Social media stories. Sure, they’re cute, they’re quirky, and they’re playful, but they can also prove to be an incredibly powerful tool for building your brand, engaging your audience, leads and even generating new sales!
After all, around 500 million people engage with Instagram Stories every day, and that’s before we even get to the countless millions of social media stories on Facebook, Snapchat, and other platforms.
In other words – there’s a huge audience out there, and a huge opportunity to make social media stories one of the most effective aspects of your social media strategy, all of which leaves just one important question:
What should you put on your social media story to connect with your audience?
That’s the question we’ll answer in today’s post as we share our top 7 favorite social media story ideas to help you create a wealth of compelling content and draw the biggest return on your investment in social media and digital marketing.
How Social Media Stories Drive Brands
It’s no secret that we’ve seen more and more brands starting to make use of story about social media over the past few years, but this isn’t merely a case of jumping on the latest trend to stay relevant, cool, or “down with the kids.”
No, while that might be the reason your uncle finally took on the Ice Bucket Challenge two years too late, the real reason why scores of major brands have embraced social media stories is simple:
According to Instagram’s research:
- 58% of users say they became more interested in a product after seeing it in Stories
- 50% of people visited a website to buy a product or service after seeing it in Stories
- 45% of people said Stories was their preferred method for finding out about new trends.
In one campaign, online sock retailer Bombas used video ads in Instagram Stories to generate a 2.4X higher conversion rate than they saw with other methods, producing a 600% year-over-year growth rate.
Elsewhere, luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz put Stories to work in boosting brand awareness, generating a 14-point increase in standard ad recall and a 6.2 boost in purchase intent.
That isn’t to say that you need the bottomless budget of a major brand to be successful.
UK newspaper The Guardian found that less-polished Stories tended to be better than those that were overproduced, so you can forget all about taking a screenwriting class and blowing your entire marketing budget on hiring a Hollywood studio just to come up with a simple Story.
Using a few simple tools and video templates and a good old-fashioned dose of creativity can more than enough to make Stories work for you.
Speaking of creativity, let’s get into those 7 ideas that you can start using in your social media stories from today.
Creative Ideas for Social Media Stories
1. Answer questions
Did you know that when you “go live” on Instagram or Facebook, the recorded stream is added to your Stories for 24 hours afterward?
Combined with the ability for your followers to ask you questions during your live streams, this creates a tremendous opportunity to boost your social media engagement in real-time and keep the answers to those burning questions available on your feed long after your stream is over.
Usually, your followers will get a notification when you start your live stream, and you can even post another story in advance to build hype, promoting the upcoming event with strategic hashtags like #AMA (Ask Me Anything) encouraging followers to get in touch with their most pressing questions. Using other social media management tools will also help with track and monitor this strategy.
2. Do a story takeover
A takeover is exactly what it sounds like: Allowing a third-party (such as a notable influencer, celebrity, or even another brand) to “take over” your Stories and share content on your platform.
While it can take some time to plan and execute successful yet creative social media ideas takeover properly, they can prove incredibly effective for expanding your reach, introducing your brand to an audience you may not normally reach as followers of the person taking off your Stories visit your profile to see that person’s content.
Can’t secure the services of an influencer or VIP just yet? One fun way to use takeovers is to hand over the reins to one of your employees. It’s a great way to humanize your brand by letting your followers engage with the people behind your products or services.
3. Host a contest
Contests and giveaways have been a staple of social media marketing ever since the very beginning and continue to prove a popular way to boost engagement, up your follower count, or turbocharge your brand awareness.
You could, for example, offer a free product, a free subscription to your service, or even some face time with a consultant or an influencer you’re partnered with.
Unlike other types of online giveaways that often require sign-up forms, pop-ups, and video landing pages, promoting a contest in your Stories is pretty simple as users simply have to engage with your content. This could be by:
- Following your account
- Tagging a friend in a post related to your story (for example: win a weekend break at our hotel by tagging the person you’d bring with you)
- Sharing your Story and/or the related post
- Running a “caption contest” on one of your photos.
You could even run a photography contest encouraging followers to take pictures (and use photo editing apps to improve image quality) related to your brand and tag them with a unique hashtag.
That said, a social media contest is no easy feat, and involves multiple overlapping tasks. You’ll need to have a solid organization before you implement this strategy, especially for something new like social media stories.
I recommend ideating a sound plan, setting the right KPIs & overall setting up your organization before you decide to launch a content story campaign.
4. Do a behind-the-scenes
Much like takeovers, offering a “behind-the-scenes” peek at the people behind your brand can be a great way to add that all-important human touch.
After all, people tend to respond much better to real people than they do to nameless, faceless organizations.
Besides, a look at the inner-workings of your company can also help build transparency and showcase the care and attention that goes into your process.
If you don’t want to go the route of a complete takeover, try posting employee interviews, work-place tours, or “day in the life” clips.
5. Feature influencers
Did you know that 49% of users say they turn to influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions?
There are lots of unique ways to work with influencers too, from sponsored posts and videos to many of the suggestions already featured in this list such as contests, takeovers, and even “Ask Me Anything” live streams.
6. Share follower DMs
Received great feedback or glowing testimonials in your DMs?
One of the easiest ways to promote what you do is to take a screenshot and share it in a Story.
8. Countdown to an event
About to launch a new product with a solid call to action? A revamped website? Getting ready to go live with a special guest? You can use the countdown sticker on your Instagram story to begin building hype and interest.
One really cool feature of Instagram countdown stickers is that your followers can tap them to set a reminder for the end of your countdown. That way, when the timer hits zero, they’ll get a notification that the big launch has finally arrived.
9. Go live for a special event
When that countdown hits zero, it’s time for the event itself, and that’s another great opportunity to go live and connect with your audience in real-time.
Events can be built around anything. A new product or service launch could have its own launch event with demonstrations, giveaways, and more. The opening of your new bricks-and-mortar location could have a live-streamed guided tour, or your new book could be the focus of a live reading. These efforts can help drive your sales and promote your products better to your audience.
If you’re not too familiar with how it all works, it might be worth your while learning a few live stream tips and tricks to make sure your streamed event is a success, after which you can enjoy seeing that stream being replayed in your Stories for the next 24 hours.
10. Start a creative series
A one-off story is all well and good, but to amplify your efforts, try getting creative and building a series of posts connected by a particular theme or a narrative tied into your overall digital marketing campaign.
Perhaps you could use the voting feature on Instagram stories to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style story centered around your brand or even create a knock-out tournament where users vote on what products or services they want to see you launch next.
Put Your Imagination to Work with Social Media Stories
While these 7 ideas for real life social media stories above are enough to help get you started, the truth is that there’s no end to the possibilities when it comes to using social media stories to grow your brand.
Whether you’re partnering up with an influencer to launch an entire campaign, counting down to a product launch, or introducing your followers to the people behind your products with a behind-the-scenes tour, put your imagination to work and try experimenting with different types of social media stories until you find the ones that prove powerful in boosting your social media ROI.