4 Ways to Improve Your Instagram Stories Organic Reach

How the Instagram Stories Algorithm Works

The Instagram algorithm determines the number of followers who see your stories. The algorithm tries to identify the best, newest, most relevant, and most engaging content for each follower. Then it delivers that content to the front of the follower’s Stories feed. That’s why it’s important to get people to watch your story through to the end.

As a business, you don’t need to reach everyone on Instagram but you do need to reach people who might buy from you. The following organic tips will help you reach that target audience by sharing stories they love at a time that’s relevant to them so it will be promoted by the algorithm. This will help you increase your organic reach to a more invested, dedicated community.

#1: Make Sure Your Instagram Stories Have a Beginning, Middle, and End

When Instagram Stories launched in 2016, some people didn’t think it would last. They felt that it was designed to appeal to younger users or just somewhere to dump images not considered good enough for the main feed.

Now, Stories is expected to overtake the main feed as the primary way of sharing on Instagram. Maybe it already has because it’s been a while since official figures were released.

Crafting quality content for Stories is just as important as for main feed posts. Therefore, you should take the time to create an Instagram Stories content plan.

As you construct Instagram stories, remember they should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Start with the end in mind by thinking about the point you want to make or the message you’d like to share. Then consider what text and images you’ll need to communicate that effectively.

National Geographic has been sharing compelling stories about the world since the 19th century, and it’s now one of the most successful brands on social media. On its National Geographic WILDaccount, they share stories like this one about Rufio the skunk.

ALT

The National Geographic model can be easily translated to your Instagram account. Here are some ways you can share stories about your business:

  • Highlight customer stories and testimonials.
  • Feature a day in the life of your business or staff.
  • Share special announcements and “see it here first” developments to make your posts super-clickable.
  • Show exclusive behind-the-scenes content from events or trips.
  • Spotlight community service or outreach activities you’re involved in to show what you’re all about and what your brand values are.

In the story below, 33 Acres Brewing Co. takes viewers on a road trip—the kind of behind-the-scenes, in-the-wild storytelling that Instagram loves.

ALT

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use your main Instagram feed posts to tell followers about your Stories content so they can catch it before it disappears.

You can share longer-form written content on Stories—creating an Instagram blog post if you like—if your particular audience would welcome it. By digging deep into topics related to your brand’s industry, you’ll be providing valuable information to potential customers, helping you build trust.

In their stories, personal debt account My Frugal Year charts the experience of clearing debt and shares in-depth financial advice. As an anonymous account, it relies on text entirely, but still provides huge value for its followers.

ALT

Pro Tip: Prompt viewers to tap and hold on the screen to read stories slides that feature lots of text.

#2: Include a Variety of Video Types in Your Instagram Stories

Sure, photos are easier to post on Instagram but video catches and holds people’s attention better than any other form of content. Instagram is helping to drive the explosion in online video traffic, with more than half of consumers saying that they’ve engaged with a brand after watching a video on social media.

Instagram Stories is the perfect (and easiest) place on the platform to harness the power of video. Here are some easy ways to incorporate video into your Stories content plan:

  • GIFs: Use GIFs to turn a still into a moving, funny, engaging Instagram story post. Use search terms in the Stories sticker box to find the right GIFs for your post.
  • Boomerang: Create a short, fast burst of photos stitched together to make a mini video that moves backward and forward. It’s a short, amusing Instagram staple.

ALT

  • Hands-free recording: Instagram lets you record a series of 15-second film clips directly to Stories. Add text, illustrations, GIFs, and music, and post your story instantly.
  • Face filters: Add face filters to turn a potentially boring scene into a fun and compelling one; then talk to your followers.

Pizza Pilgrims uses GIFs galore and short video clips—like these clips of a pizza being made and a slow-mo of it coming out of the oven—to add personality to their stories and celebrate their customers.

ALT

Don’t let a low budget (or no budget) stop you. Instagram users don’t expect to see professional-quality video, especially on Stories.

The Guardian, which has a successful Instagram news page, spent several months researching different types of Instagram posts to determine what resonated best with their audience. They found that video drives more new followers than static posts and the time and money spent creating polished and professional videos, specifically for Stories, weren’t worth it.

In this story, they’ve posted grainy news video, confident that their Instagram followers will be happy to watch it. The Stories format is more suited to casual, in-the-moment footage.

ALT

Tools to Create Instagram Stories Video

New apps are popping up all the time that make it easy to create branded video content from just a few still images.

Mojo video app is a free dedicated story-maker for Instagram that allows you to customize animated templates, adding in your choice of fonts and colors. Upgrade to the Pro version ($39.99/year) to use your own logo and fonts.

ALT

GIF Maker by Momento automatically turns photos or a sequence of images into moving GIFs. You can also add filters, stickers, text, and effects in the app. It’s free to download, but if you upgrade to Momento Premium ($9.99/month or $47.99/year), you can remove the watermark and get access to additional features.

International flexible working business WeWork often creates engaging videos by combining photographs from its spaces around the world. It uses moving text and graphics to weave the visuals together and draws viewers into the conversation by asking for their opinions via polls and question stickers. Access to easy-to-use creative apps means you don’t have to be a large organization with significant resources to do the same.

ALT

#3: Treat Your Instagram Stories Viewers Like Friends and Family

Instagram is a visual platform that helps businesses make a personal connection with customers. Stepping out of your comfort zone and in front of the camera is the perfect way to build trust with your audience and boost the reach of your stories and business.

As Instagram has become more crowded with brands and influencers, engagement on both types of accounts is down. Facebook, which owns Instagram, says it wants to deliver friends and family into people’s feeds. So what does a business do? Behave more like friends and family.

Serve up content that builds meaningful, familiar relationships. Be valuable by being visible. Posts with faces in them have always been popular on Instagram.

Be the Story on Stories

Harriet Inglis, founder of self-heating eye mask company Spacemasks, saw her online presence skyrocket and sales take off when she became the story on her Stories. And, news flash, you don’t always have to talk about your business. Her dry humor and commentary on day-to-day life as a mom and business owner have generated loyal fans and brand advocates.

ALT

Pro Tip: Using subtitles, just a few words on the screen, to give viewers an idea of what you’re talking about can be invaluable to those watching with the sound off.

#4: Add Instagram Stories Elements to Hold Viewers’ Attention

Instagram users have mercilessly short attention spans and unbelievably fast thumbs. You need to plan your Stories content to hold as many viewers as possible through to the end of the post. How-to’s and tutorials are the perfect “must watch to the end” Stories content.

Lead with your strongest image or video clip in the first story frame. Don’t expect people to hang around for the money shot; capture their interest from the get-go.

Incorporating the following elements in your stories will also help hold viewers’ interest:

  • Use text prompts to make it clear exactly what you’re posting about and why it’s worth watching.
  • Add music or voiceover to your stories. According to Instagram, 60% of stories are watched with the sound on.
  • Use numbers or letters to suggest you’ll be sharing a sequence of valuable content that’s worth sticking around for.
  • Use interactive stickers to encourage followers to participate in your story by answering questions and chiming in on polls. This input can also provide you with great audience insights.

Wern PR used a numbered reveal in the story below to demonstrate the results of a coaching call with a client. The payoff at the end is a glowing testimonial for Wern. It’s great awareness-building content for the customer—a superfan—and a compelling story for their followers too.

ALT

Post Instagram Stories When People Are Watching

Instagram Stories is designed for sharing content that’s current. However, if you want immediate and optimal engagement, post your story when your followers are most likely to be online.

To discover when your audience is active on the platform, start by examining the Instagram Insights for your business account. This data gives a useful starting point but trial and error can be equally important for establishing your best posting times. Perhaps your audience is often online in the evening but is most engaged in the morning.

As a guide, Buffer’s research with Delmondo on 15,000 posts from the top 200 brands on Instagram found that the best time to post to Stories is outside of work hours. For my account, I’ve found that for instant Stories engagement, evening is my best time, and by posting after 7 PM, I can increase my views by more than 50%.

There’s currently no capability to schedule stories without using a third-party app, although recent developments allowing users to schedule main feed posts and IGTV to Instagram through Facebook suggest that it may be possible in the future.

Conclusion

It’s been a tough year on Instagram. Since early May, marketers and users have reported a sharp decline in engagement across the platform. The engagement rate for brands now sits at around 0.9%, which is down more than half from earlier in the year.

With more businesses vying for attention on feeds every day, engagement on brand content overall has to decline; it’s a natural and inevitable consequence of Instagram becoming more popular. So now more than ever, you need to focus on what makes great, compelling Instagram story content for your followers.

By adjusting your approach and upping your storytelling game, you can create content that’s more engaging and relevant to your followers. Then it will rank better within the algorithm and appear closer to the front of the Stories feed. The result? Better organic reach and engagement for your business.

Link to Original Source

Related posts

The team at 94.9 KLTY has served the Dallas/Fort Worth community for over 35 years. In 2020, the need was never greater. Through their local campaigns, Christmas Wish and Speak Love, they were able to assist many families who were impacted by not only the pandemic, but by hard times in general. The Speak Lovecampaign helped first responders, teachers, servers, food service staff, and many more within the community throughout the year. In 2020 94.9 KLTY’s Christmas Wish campaign brought Christmas joy to hundreds of families in the DFW area. They provided vehicles, food, toys, and other forms of relief to families in their community. They could not have reached any of these needs if not for their listeners and their generous donations to 94.9 KLTY’s nonprofit programs. In total, Speak Love and Christmas Wish raised more than $160,000 for those in need in Dallas/Fort Worth. They also recognized those sacrificial front-line workers and first responders who keep our community safe. Each week, 94.9 KLTY honored them, raised funds throughout the summer, and then presented each first responder with a check as a token of their gratitude. With countless families in need because of the pandemic, 94.9 KLTY also helped the Tarrant Area Food Bank distribute food essentials on multiple occasions in September, October, November. It is 94.9 KLTY’s sincere honor to serve our listeners in Dallas/Fort Worth.

×

LIFE 96.5 seeks to empower and serve the Sioux Falls area by reaching out in faith to help make it a better place to live and work. They want to lead their listeners to Jesus and help them grow in their faith through opportunities to love and serve others. In January 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners donated over 950 brand new baby items during the Sioux Empire’s Largest Baby Shower. The Baby Shower grows every year, demonstrating their community’s love and support of the couples who are choosing life for their unborn children. LIFE 96.5 listeners, in partnership with Dacotah Bank, provided gift cards and cash donations to the Sioux Falls School District social workers to meet the needs of 1,000 homeless students. LIFE 96.5 also invited listeners to participate in a city-wide prayer parade, where they prayed for health care and government officials while driving past hospitals, schools, and city government offices. During the months of September and October 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners provided over 250 twin sheet sets and 100 mattresses to the Sioux Falls Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization for children who are sleeping on floors. Through LIFE 96.5, listeners also made a difference in the lives of patients spending Christmas at Avera Behavioral Health Hospital. Each patient received a Christmas stocking filled with gifts and a note of encouragement. In addition, each Saturday morning LIFE 96.5 staff host Life Connection, a program featuring community leaders and discussing the needs and concerns of the Sioux Falls Community.

×

89.5 KVNE exists to glorify God by encouraging people, connecting their community, and pointing people to Jesus Christ. When their community was turned upside down by COVID, they knew they had to jump into action and mobilize their listeners to make a difference for Christ. To best serve their local community, KVNE held multiple drives to support local ministry partners and those most impacted by the pandemic. They collected 1,500 gift cards (totaling more than $15,000) to benefit those in need because of shutdowns, gathered over 12,000 diapers for foster families, and collected 150 care packages for senior citizens. They also collected 1,032 fans for the Salvation Army and over 1,000 pairs of shoes for kids heading back to school. Additionally, listeners donated 1,512 care packages for the homeless in East Texas, and KVNE hosted two blood drives to help those fighting the coronavirus. People across East Texas needed connection during the pandemic, so they organized a social media outreach, called Praise Defeats, a coordinated time where listeners shot videos of themselves singing “Raise A Hallelujah.” The videos were shared thousands of times, as they deepened their community’s connection. In addition, KVNE launched a Hispanic Christian music station (Fuzión), started a worship station (Lift Worship), and began a Bible Teaching Station (The Well) – all to help people grow in their faith. God allowed them to impact His Kingdom in profound ways and serve their local community powerfully during an unprecedented time when people needed hope like never before.

×

Since 1986, The JOY FM has made community service a hallmark of its ministry to listeners – first in Sarasota, and then expanding to Tampa, other Florida markets, and most recently to Atlanta and Middle Georgia. Even with this growth, community outreach remains hands-on, with legacy events like T-Shirts for Turkeys, which helped feed more than 28,700 families in all markets served last year. 2020 created new challenges for serving, so The JOY FM innovated several service projects to accommodate contactless delivery and social distancing. JOY Drop and Restock, a brand-new outreach, collected 30 tons of food to restock local food banks hit hard by the pandemic. Partnering with Natalie Grant and Hope for Justice, Team Freedom approached a grand total of $1,000,000 in 2020 to fight human trafficking. As listeners faced political rhetoric and serious questions about race and justice, as well as practical challenges like hybrid classrooms, The JOY FM programming (on terrestrial signals, as well as its LF Radio and JOY Worship platforms) responded with a recommitment to our mission of “Helping You Find JOY.” Resources for listeners, such as the Off Air with Carmen podcast, was provided to help listeners wrestle with big questions like Christian citizenship. Possibly The JOY FM’s most relevant community service effort for 2020 was prayer. The JOY FM’s Prayer and Crisis Referral service interacted with 620,936 listeners in need of prayer or help. Of those calls and texts, 4,949 listeners reported praying to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

×

“Hope Starts Here” is more than The Light FM’s tagline. It’s their mission. In 2020, they were intentional in regularly offering community-needed resources and hope-filled encouragement. They hosted their 5th annual Make a Difference training to encourage listeners to share God’s hope and saw 14 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus. The Light FM also visited eight local Law Enforcement agencies to share words of encouragement and care baskets. They partnered with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and artists of Winter Jam for a private concert and time of prayer with families battling pediatric cancer. The Light FM listeners from five different cities donated 258 wheelchairs, 262 crutches, 259 walkers, 71 transport chairs, and 66 canes to Wheels for the World, which brings mobility and the hope of Christ around the world. During stay-at-home orders, The Light FM began offering free monthly virtual events, including: a graduation ceremony, featuring artists and Bible teachers; a conference with Crown Financial on how to manage finances during the pandemic; Girl Talk LIVE, a women’s event with worship and Bible study; God’s Hope in Crisis training with chaplains of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team; a pastor appreciation event for local churches, featuring Chip Ingram and Matthew West; and a Family Christmas Night with live music, games, and a devotion from The Light FM staff. Even throughout the pandemic, The Light FM also found ways to be out in the public, safely, with six drive-in events featuring movies and live music.

×

2021 Membership Exclusives

January – Your 2021 Radio Goals – Virtual Event
February – SURPRISE BENEFIT 
March – Radio Station Field Trip
April – A Webinar for YOUR Board
May – Virtual Mentoring Event
June – SURPRISE BENEFIT at Momentum
July – Salary Survey Webinar
August – Fundraising Webinar
September – Creative Images
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Radio Station Field Trip
December – Virtual Christmas Party

*subject to change

×

Paul Cameron began his career in radio prior to graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1980, starting his first job in 1979 as part-time on-air talent at WMKC 96.7FM (an adult contemporary station). In 1980 Paul moved to part-time on-air talent for WHBY-AM 1230 (a news/talk station), and while still working there, began working part-time for WEMI 100.1FM. In 1981, he went full-time for WEMI and over the years served as program director, music director, station manager, and director of radio operations. In 2002 he assumed the role of executive director and general manager for Christian Family Radio, now known as The Family Radio Network. Since 2016 Paul has been chief operating officer and afternoon on-air host. He was part of the transition from one full power station to five full power stations and six translators, all in Wisconsin. Paul has given back to his community by serving on several local boards in various capacities, including The Emergency Shelter of Appleton, The Community Clothes Closet of Menasha, and Loaves and Fishes of the Fox Valley. He also serves on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and has been a fundraiser host with ShareMedia/Dunham+Company since 2002.

×

Rob Dempsey has been serving the HIS Radio Network listeners faithfully since 2000, currently working as operations manager and morning show co-host on the HIS Morning Crew with Rob & Lizz. Rob worked as a security guard at television studios for the Home Shopping Network before he was called into the radio ministry. Now, Rob’s personal stories of overcoming obstacles, walking through a long journey to health, and stepping out in faith and selflessness inspire his listeners. Some know him as the guy who lost 140 pounds to overcome obesity, others know him as the 16-year-old kid kicked out of his home to live in the streets, and others know him as being a foster and adoptive parent. Rob and his wife’s kids range from a 34-year-old war hero, 25-year-old social media marketing specialist, 19-year-old honors college student, a 12-year-old they adopted in November 2009, as well as many foster children throughout the last 9 years. Recently, Rob has been on a health journey which included two surgeries, one a major reconstructive surgery. These past two years have been a challenge for Rob, but he continues to show that through God, anyone can become an overcomer.

×

Since 1989, Mike Harper has faithfully impacted East Texas on-the-air at 89.5 KVNE, where he serves as VP Communications and morning show host. He began as a volunteer weekend DJ, driving from 90 miles away. Mike advanced the cause of Christian radio by serving several years on the steering committee for CMB, and he has taken part in every NCRS/CMB since 1999. According to Nielsen, Mike and Carrie in the Morning has been the #1 Morning Show for a decade (#1 Persons 12+) propelling KVNE as high as an 8.3 share and helping KVNE become the #1 rated station in the Tyler/Longview market. During that time, KVNE won 8 Station of the Year Awards (CMB & NRB). Additionally, Mike and his co-host Carrie Parsons have been awarded “Best Morning Show in East Texas” for 9 years in a row. Mike has shaved his head to reach a pledge drive goal, donned white tights and a cape “for the children,” and stood on top of a building during a remote broadcast. He has daily arrived faithfully at 5:00 am and braved ice, snow, hail, and tornados in an effort to keep his listeners safe, encourage them, and point them to Jesus.

×

Bryan O’Neal has spent a lifetime entertaining, encouraging, and spreading God’s love to millions over the airwaves, landing his first radio job in 1972 in mainstream Top 40 radio. In 1978 Bryan hosted and produced Portland’s first CCM’s 30-minute radio show on Top 40 62-KGW. He then teamed up with his good friend Bob Anthony to plan a full-time CCM station in Santa Rosa. Eventually that station became K-LOVE. After K-LOVE moved to Sacramento, Bryan became their full-time employee #13 in 1994. In 1998 Bryan worked as the program director for another CCM station, KPAM/Pamplin Media. In 2001 Bryan teamed up once again with Bob Anthony at EMF’s Air1. Bryan was instrumental in moving Air1’s entire Portland staff to the new building in Rocklin, where he worked as operations director and then program director. In 2005 Bryan worked a short stint at KTSL in Spokane, and then became the music director and afternoon host at 89.7 KSGN in Redlands, California. Bryan O’Neal has worked as the program director at KSGN and co-host with Brandi Lanai for nearly 10 years of Bryan and Brandi in the Morning. Bryan hung up his headphones for retirement in March of 2021.

×

Bill Scott is one of the founders of Vidare Creative, a fundraising consulting company which helps Christian radio stations, through their 365 plan concept, raise the funds they need to grow. Bill has been a part of Christian radio for 39 years. He’s worked at WCIE, The JOY FM, and WAY FM as a production director, on-air talent, program director, and station manager. Bill co-hosted Dawson McCallister Live, which aired on 500 radio stations each weekend. Bill began ZJAM, a syndicated show that aired on 350 stations in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Guatemala each weekend. Bill’s latest show was Xtreme Talk Live, airing each Sunday night on over 200 radio stations. Bill has hosted 700 fundraisers on Christian radio in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Bill also runs Men of Radio, a Facebook group with over 600 men from Christian radio. For the past three years, he has hosted the Men of Radio Winter Retreat in McCall, Idaho, with the focus of getting to know other men on Christian radio so they can walk through life together. Bill Scott believes passionately in Christian radio, and he has dedicated his life to see it grow.

×