Instagram is becoming the go-to social platform for music these days and the service keeps on getting hotter. One of its main features is Stories, and its sometimes both misunderstood and underutilized when it comes to promoting your brand and music. Stories can be powerful in this regard, however, when used with a little thought.
What Are Stories?
The big difference between Stories and the normal Instagram feed is that a story only lasts for 24 hours before it disappears. It’s archived so it’s not lost forever, but others will only see it for that short 1 day time period. This is not the downside that many feel it is though, as you’ll see.
One way to think about it is that your news feed is for photos and videos that are more polished, while a Story is more about the moment and doesn’t have to be, nor is it expected to be, super-produced.
Why use Stories given its time limitation? First of all, there are more than 300 million Instagram users that use the feature every day. Even better is the fact that you can add hashtags and and locations to make them discoverable by those users, and Instagram even recommends some Stories as well. Not only that, but fans can reply to a story, sending you a DM when they do. That’s just the kind of interaction that we’re looking for on any social platform.
Using Stories For Promotion
Chelsea Ira has some great tips on using Stories in a post on the TuneCore Blog, and here are some ways that she suggests where the feature can be used promotionally:
• Use polls to get the fans involved.
• Use Emoji sliders to get feedback
• Promote your other social channels
• Promote your music (latest release, upcoming gig, merch, etc.)
• Share coupon codes or discounts
• Promote a new post
Making The Most From Your Story
Stories are not a “build it and they will come” feature though, in that if you’re not careful there can be potential negative consequences. Obviously one of the things that can happen is for your Story to be ignored, but if you come off the wrong way you may be unfollowed, your content will be marked or blocked as spam, you may get negative replies, and more. The chances of these happening are low, but you have to remember that just because they’re there for only 24 hours, that doesn’t mean you can be careless.
That being said, let’s get down to business on how to get the most from your Story.
1. Make sure the photo or video is good to begin with. As said before, you don’t have to be as thoughtful as you would be with your news feed content, but there has to be an acceptable level of quality. Remember, poor quality usually gets a poor response.
2. Ask the user to do something. A photo without asking the user to do something besides look isn’t doing any promotion for you. You need a call to action, and the best way to get that is to….
3. Use some text. You can easily add text right from the app in different colors and fonts. You can add, “Come see us at..,” or “Listen to our latest release,” or Don’t you think you’ll look good in this?” for a new piece of merch. Just make sure the text is readable.
4. Tell a compelling story. We all have friends that can shoot the breeze for a half-hour on any subject and it’s boring after the first 2 minutes. Don’t be that person with pictures. Make sure every piece of content is there for a reason and it tells your promotional story.
Bottom line is that people love Stories and they’re becoming more and more popular. That means they’re also an ideal promotional tool, but only if you approach them with that in mind.
You can read more from the 2nd edition of Social Media Promotion For Musicians and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.