The old saying goes if you can’t find the answers, you are asking the wrong questions. No doubt as you peruse Google’s offerings on the subject of Instagram stories and branding, you have read and watched several useless tips like, “Always include your logo” and “Give a call to action” and “Use a branding kit” and “Templates” and rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. It is all equally useful advice, only helpful to the novice who has no idea what branding is. The reason you cannot find a good answer to branding vis-à-vis Instagram stories is that you are asking the wrong questions. The correct question is, “How can my brand Benefit from activity on Instagram Stories?”
An Extension of Your Brand’s Arm
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As you know, branding is the dissemination of a principle that defines your company. It isn’t a big deal for established brands but is a game changer for up-and-coming brands. Dominoes built their empire on the brand principle that you can get a pizza fast. Their slogan was “We deliver in 30 minutes or your pizza is free.” When Volvo was up and coming, its brand principle was safety.
Branding is not about fancy designs. Branding is not about logos or templates or borders. Branding is about the public perception of your brand.
Instagram stories need to help you educate, promote, or in some way benefit your brand. It needs to become a branding arm, a portal through which you spread a certain message. You can change its function over time, you don’t have to be permanently consistent, nevertheless, it needs to function to benefit your brand.
Instagram Stories?? Instagram Posts?? Instagram Reels??
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The team at Instagram like to make things needlessly confusing so here is a reminder. Instagram stories are videos you post on Instagram, they are only seen by your followers, and they disappear after 24 hours. People are now able to “Like” stories without them appearing in the poster’s DMs, which is a big plus for popular accounts.
Instagram posts are the ones available to the public. They are the images and shares you add to your Instagram account. Instagram Reels are the videos that you add to your Instagram. Unlike Stories, Instagram reels are just like posts, they appear on your posts section and on a Reels tab too. Instagram Reels do not disappear after 24 hours.
The Purpose Of Your Stories
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How are your stories going to benefit your brand? How are Instagram stories going to become a branding arm in your organization? Below are a few ways your Instagram Stories may be used to benefit your brand.
The easiest method is to make stories an educational tool. In short, they teach people about your brand principles via various means. This method works if your followers are excited about your content but are having trouble linking the content and your brand.
For example, if you sell TVs, but your Instagram content is mostly posts about funny comic cartoons, then people are not going to know or understand your brand principles. In these cases, subjecting your followers to brand-educating stories is a good idea. You can let them know what your brand principles are all about.
This is where you remind people of your brand at regular intervals, where the frequency is based on the turnover of your product. For example, perhaps two times per year for car sales, perhaps once per week for social media marketing services.
Reminding people of your brand and reaffirming its principles is good if your followers are mostly engaged with your content but not your brand. It gently reminds them of what you do without affecting their enjoyment of your posts.
Building Brand Recognition
This is where it doesn’t matter what your content is or why you are posting. This is where you simply offer up something educational or promotional about your brand with the aim of drip marketing a little brand recognition. New start-up streaming services on web browsers will typically do this, as will start-up gambling websites. They post anything that they think will attract people’s attention, and they put their website or brand name in the bottom corner.
For most companies, getting attention with the hopes of creating brand recognition needs a little more nuance than simply posting logos and URLs into Stories posts. Nevertheless, even these crude methods work for some companies. Just remember that there are easier and more permanent ways to create brand recognition than by offering Instagram stories to people who have already subscribed/followed you.
Outright Brand Promotion
This is the most overt form of promotion, and it is the bread and butter of Instagram clothing and makeup designers, marketers, and merchants. They say what they are, what they offer, what they do, and they wave their company name and logos around like sparklers on the 4th of July. This is a popular method of branding on Instagram stories because it is easy. This means any half-baked influencer marketing plan can pull it off with a trickle of success.
If you are going this route, then you are basically saying, “We are X, we do X, give us money.” If you are going this route, then it is highly recommended that your Instagram posts/reels are also promotional. The followers you are chasing need to already be invested in your products, services or brand. Otherwise, your success will be as effective as the Latter Day Saints people who knock on strangers’ houses and hope to be let in.
Brand Promotion Through Social Validation
This is another easy one. You promote your brand based on how popular your brand is. If you recall those old Burberry ads or the old Adidas ads, where all you ever saw was sexy and “Hip” teens wearing the clothing items. The advertising was constantly saying, “Hey, look at how cool those people are.” It probably goes without saying that you need a strong idea of your target audience when using this method. Your brand needs the clear demographics that it is aimed for. It is not suitable if you have products aimed at kids, some aimed at adults, some aimed at women, and some at men, etc. If your target audience is a little more mixed or vague, then try brand promotion through product promotion (which is discussed later).
If you do not have a large following, then this easy method becomes a little tricky. You may have to fake it until you make it. Buying bot likes and followers will make it difficult for your future content to gain any traction, so instead, go and buy Instagram accounts from a social media marketplace like Fame Swap. That way, you have the follower numbers to justify your social validation marketing.
Brand Promotion Through Product Promotion
You need a following that is warm to your brand or your products in order for this to work. This mention that at least some of your Instagram posts/reels need to be promotional in nature. If you can cultivate a following that mostly understands your brand and/or wants your products, then brand promotion through product promotion has a better hit rate with Instagram stories.
Again, you have to remember that Instagram stories are only for people who are already following. Imagine if you were following a guy because he has cool cars, and then on his stories he drops some promotional content about a health shake. On the other hand, if he dropped an advert about auto insurance, then it may have more impact. In this case, it helps the brand because the car guy and the product work in tandem to demonstrate that the brand is something desirable.
Brand Promotion Through Competitor Shaming
The last and least method by which you may create Instagram stories to help your brand is to compare your brand with your competitors. You can compare everything from delivery times and prices to staff happiness and business ethics. It has the dual effect of promoting your brand while pulling down your competitors. The trouble is that it is very difficult to create compelling Instagram stories when you are shaming your competitors for the betterment of your own brand.
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