"Let me quickly check this person's profile before meeting them in person."

"I wonder what Swati from college is up to these days, let's find out."

"Mmm, I'm craving some doughnuts, but there is still some time for lunch. How about I search with the hashtag and quench my cravings with some pictures till then?"

These are some of the phrases that most of you think if not say out loud regularly. This would not have been possible without the advent of a social media platform where everything is available at the tap of a finger. Of these, Instagram is currently ruling the social media scenario. Just ask yourself a simple question - Which social media platform do you use the most in your day-to-day life? Instagram will be the answer for most of you reading this. There is no denying the popularity of Instagram. The application, now owned by Facebook, is used by people all across the globe - ranging through all ages be it a seven-year-old kid, or a 70-year-young person. It is, in fact, challenging to find a person roaming on the Earth's surface who does not possess a cell phone. Hence, anyone owning a mobile phone can easily tap into the world of Instagram. Instagram does not require you to take off a certain time of your day to devote to the application. A quick scroll in between work, or checking out the latest updates during lunch break is enough.

But entertainment is not all that an Instagram offers. Of the many features that one can make use of on Instagram, there is the Story feature. Instagram Stories last for 24 hours and can be tapped on to move to the next one. Introduced in 2016, these audiovisuals can be 15 seconds long at most. Studies show that the use of Instagram Stories has only gone up since its initial launch. With new Story engagement features every now and then, Instagram provides a great opportunity for your e-commerce website to boost its business through these stories.

Why you should create more Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories pose as a powerful tool to increase engagement and bring in sales for your e-commerce website. If you are not yet using them for your e-commerce website, here is a list of facts that will make you switch sides.

  • Instagram Stories are rendered such a powerful tool by marketers that they allocate 31% of their advertising budget to advertisements on Instagram Stories.
  • As many as 200 million users on Instagram make their footfall on a minimum of one e-commerce account daily.
  • The majority (62%) of consumers are drawn towards a website after seeing their Instagram Story.
Did you know? Among the most viewed Instagram Stories of a particular day, a third are from e-commerce accounts.
Men and women getting engaged to each other.
Ring Concierge, a jewelry brand, posts pictures of its customers' engagement showcasing the product. (Credits: @ringconcierge)

How to tailor an Instagram Story for your brand?

As an e-commerce website, you need to add your own touch to the Story you put up so that viewers can easily associate the Story with your brand. The Story should ideally align with what your brand stands for, its aesthetics, and even the color palette at times. Here is how you can use different features to achieve the same.

  • Use Instagram's Design Tools
  • Try the Boomerang feature
  • Use Instagram Story Templates
  • Add a GIF

Use Instagram's Design Tools

Instagram provides certain in-built tools for you to use in your stories. Some of the available features are:

  • Layout - This can be used to prepare a collage with multiple stories simultaneously.
  • Effects - Instagram offers several filters that play with the vibe and colors of the picture or video.
  • Brush - The brush tool can be used to make freehand patterns, drawings, or even text on your Story.

Try the Boomerang feature

A woman taking out hair extensions.
Luxy Hair posted a boomerang of a woman pulling out their Halo hair extension (Credits: @luxyhair)

Boomerang puts together multiple pictures or a series of pictures into a high-quality short movie that plays back and forth repetitively. Users may get creative with the “Slowmo,” “Duo”, and “Echo techniques, apart from the classic boomerang effect. Although these effects are only available for video shot through Instagram itself, they might be useful if you are an e-commerce brand that routinely posts witty and edgy material.

Use Instagram Story Templates

There are a plethora of simple and inexpensive design applications available that make creating Instagram Stories a breeze. Such templates help give you an outline or a template of a creative Instagram Story. All you have to do is replace the pictures or videos with the ones from your e-commerce brand. To top it off, you can add music that goes with the Story.

Add a GIF

A man wearing a floral print shirt and shades.
Chubbies, an apparel brand, uses GIFs to introduce the launch of new products (Credits: @chubbies)

Your e-commerce account can make the most out of the create mode on Instagram by using a giphy or GIF. Any GIF you submit to a story will be seamlessly resized or duplicated to suit the display settings. When you are pleased with your GIF, you can finish it off by adding text to boost engagement, or add stickers, too.

8 creative ideas to add your branding to Stories

The more viewers interact with your Stories, the better your shots are at climbing the Instagram rank, courtesy of their algorithm. Check out these various features and tricks that you can use to build engagement.

  • Ask a Question
  • Quiz Stickers
  • Polls
  • Slide-able emojis
  • Join Chat Sticker
  • Element of Mystery
  • Voice of Customer

Ask a Question

A woman showing off her extensions.
Luxy Hair, a brand that sells hair extensions, lets their followers ask them any question to which they reply using appropriate background images. (Credits: @luxyhair)

The option to ask a question by posting a sticker for the same on your Instagram Story was introduced not too long ago. This provides a great opportunity to let your viewers directly ask you any query that they might have. Once you use this feature, you are bound to get all sorts of questions ranging from professional ones to questions that are just for fun. The questions enter in your messages section. These further provide a great opportunity to post subsequent Stories that are in reply to these questions. Moreover, while posting the answers you can select any background of your choice for the given Story. This feature allows you to skip the tardy process of feedback forms as well.

Quiz Stickers

Quiz about a deluxe hair styler.
A hair extension brand put up a Story video along with some text clues asking its customers to guess the name of the product in a quiz form (Credit: @luxyhair)

Nothing like a good guessing game to keep your customers on the edge of their seats. The quiz feature can also be used as a sticker on your Instagram Story. This is in the form of a multiple-choice question where the question and the answers are set by you. When the viewer clicks on the right option, it turns green with a tick mark. On the other hand, if the viewer guesses the answer wrong, the option turns red with a cross mark. Quizzes can be a good way to make your customers acquainted with your brand and its history, achievements, or an upcoming launch.

Polls

Various snacks in a movie theatre.
Polls help motivate viewers by engaging them with fun options (Credits: @chubbies)

Stickers in the form of polls are among the easiest and quickest stickers for your audience to participate in, rendering them an excellent choice for a quick spike in engagement. Polls are a great method to get more audience participation, and the simplest ones typically work best. These come along with a question which you can set as your preferences. To make the most out of polls ask a question that is crucial to your business, yet is a simple one. The best polls are often yes or no ones or any "this or that" poll format. Such polls give you a quick insight into a viewer's preference. These are often instrumental in figuring out what a buyer is looking for and subsequently coming up with products or services that match their tastes.

Slide-able emojis

Women with curly hair pulled up to a ponytail.
Luxy Hair, the hair extension brand lets their viewers state if they like the various ponytail extensions, with the use of different slide-able emojis (Credits: @luxyhair)

This is by far one of the most simple features out there. In contrary to all the previously mentioned features, this one does not essentially require an accompanying question. Further, owing to the increasing vast range and variety of emojis, the possibilities for this slider are endless. For instance, you can add a heart emoji slider to know if your viewers like a particular product or service provided by your e-commerce brand. If you want to take the creativity up a notch, you can use a pointer emoji and list a few options below it. The viewers can slide the emoji over the option that they prefer.

Join chat sticker

Screenshots of Instagram stories and chatbox.
A step-by-step representation of how you can use the Join Chat sticker in your Instagram Story (Credits: The Verge)

The option to join a chat was introduced by Instagram close the time when it launched the option to ask a question. By clicking on the Join Chat sticker on your Instagram Story, the viewers can get access to join a chat room. The maximum capacity of this chat is however limited to 32 people at a time. Wondering what if you do not want certain people to join? Worry not, because the application allows you to select the members who can join the chat. You can use this feature to hold a limited survey for an upcoming feature.

Element of mystery

Different materials of varying colors used for loungewear shorts.
The clothing brand Chubbies launched a new line of loungewear without actually showing pictures of the entire product (Credits: @chubbies)

The human soul tends to be drawn towards anything mysterious. If your Instagram Story gives away all the details about your product or service, it leaves no room for viewers to engage with your brand further. It is so because no urge is ignited in them to click to know further. Everything is simply laid out in front of them. To avoid this and increase click and subsequent engagement, make your Stories as interesting as possible. You can simply break up bits and pieces of information into separate Stories that span for several days. You may also bait viewers to know more by putting up a minimalistic story and has a simple catchphrase.

Voice of Customer

A person riding a cycle through a road and two images of cycles with mounts.
Quad Lock, a brand that sells biking mounts and gears, reposts Stories of customers using their products (Credits: @quadlockcycle)

At times it can be too monotonous for your audience to view Stories only from your brand perspective. Providing a new angle through your customers, friends of customers, influencers, celebrities can induce a sense of genuineness to your Stories. This can be done through a staff who works at your e-commerce business, or a customer or client. The staff can talk about how the product is made or what a typical day at their work looks like. On the other hand, a video where a customer unboxes your product and gives an honest review about it can capture the viewer's attention and intrigue them to take action as well.

8 hacks to make your Instagram Stories presentable

All your efforts into branding your Stories and driving sales through them will only be possible only if you make it worth people's time to watch your Stories in the first place. For this, you need to ensure that you present your Stories in a way that is interesting and catchy. Here are a few hacks to make your Stories presentable:

  • Collage letters
  • Cutout images
  • Hanging text
  • Layered fonts
  • Highlighted alphabets
  • Automatic arrow lines
  • Drop shadow  
  • Glow patterns

Collage letters

Collage letters used in pictures of coffee an a dog.
Here are the ways to find and use collage letters in your Instagram Stories (Credits: Hayls World)

These are a fun way to substitute text in your Instagram Story. All you need to do is search for collage letters in the GIF option within your Story. Thereafter, you will get a list of GIFs that look like paper cut-outs of individual alphabets. Simple use these GIF alphabets to form your words. These give an edgy look to your Stories and since the alphabets are moving, they provide a jolly mood too.

Cutout images

Images showing a pair of feet and a coffee mug.
By cutting out only part of an image and revamping the edges, you can get a chic Instagram Story (Credits: Hayls World) 

Sometimes you may have an image that does not look good as a whole but you want to use part of it in your Instagram Story. This is where cutout images come into the picture (pun intended). To use this hack cover your story with a solid color first. Now using the erase tool, trace only the part that you want to show in your Story. You can smooth out the edges of the selection by tracing lines around it using the pen tool.

Hanging text

Images of a park, a new phone, and an upcoming studio.
Making the text seem like it is hanging from above gives your Instagram Story a unique appearance (Credits: Hayls World) 

You can create the illusion of your text hanging from the top of your Story screen using this hack. To do this simply type repeated hyphens or underscores until you get a relatively long straight line. Now rotate the line from horizontal to vertical and place it such that it joins your text to the top of the screen. You can create multiple lines of any color of your choice.

Layered fonts

New launches and customer review for a garment company.
Chubbies, the apparel brand, uses different font styles in its Instagram Stories to make them look more interesting (Credits: @chubbies)

Using one single font can make your Story seem monotonous. To avoid this, make it a point to use multiple different font styles in your Stories. Moreover, the fonts should be of varied sizes and colors for them to stand out all the more. Layering different fonts makes your Story look chic and fun.

Highlighted alphabets

A cup of hot chocolate placed on a saucer on a table.
Here is how you can highlight different alphabets with tones and shades of a color that matches the overall theme of your Instagram Story (Credits: Hayls World)

Ditch the old-school way of highlighting the entire text with this super fun hack. Instead of highlighting chunks of text as a whole, you can highlight each alphabet of the words in your Story. To do this, just type one alphabet and highlight it with a color of your liking. Similarly, highlight the next letter with a different shade or tone of the same color. The color you choose should go well with the existing color palette of your Instagram Story. This hack is better suited for texts consisting of only about a couple of words or so.

Automatic arrow lines

A children's book about animal crossing and an Instagram post that asks viewers to subscribe.
Using the arrow tool, you can effortlessly add arrows to any part of your Instagram Story (Credits: Hayls World) 

This one is a relatively recent feature on Instagram Stories. While creating a Story, click on the brush tool. Here you will notice an arrow option situated on the upper left side of the screen. Selecting this tool and drawing any line will produce an arrow based on the lines you draw. In other words, the arrow tool simply puts an arrowhead on the lines drawn by you. Like all other brush tools, this one too can be used in any color.

Drop shadow

The setup for a new studio with mostly white decor.
By layering two different colored texts one on top of the other, you can get a drop shadow effect (Credits: Hayls World)

This is a simple yet effective way to make your text look cool. To begin with, simply type out the words that you want to place in your Story. Now choose a color for your text. After this, simply copy and paste the text but this time change the color of the text preferable to white or black. Now all you need to do is place the new text behind or in front of the previously colored text. Be careful to place the text at an angle, that is, slightly below or to the side of the original text. There! You have a text with a shadow effect.

Glow patterns

Images of a coffee cup, a man standing in an open space, and a lady posing with shades.
Glow patterns can be of various shapes, sizes, and colors (Credits: Hayls World)

This hack is a game-changer as they help elevate the creativity of your Instagram Story. To try this, go to the brush tool option and select the glow tool. Now create a pattern (such as a zig-zag line) around the subject of your Story. Now using the erase tool, erase the parts where the pattern overlaps the subject. Zoom in to get to work better on the details and around the edges. Once you are done, you will have a unique Story with glowing lines that highlight the main subject. GenZ is bound to love this one!

How to increase your product sales through Instagram Stories?

Once you have captured the attention of your viewers, it is now time to turn them into customers for good. Every good e-commerce brand knows that a one-time purchase does not drive consistent sales unless your customers are loyal to your brand. Here is how you can drive sales for your e-commerce website.

  • Build trust
  • Use Story Advertisements
  • Tap into the FOMO
  • Make your product seem top-notch
  • Work on the shopping experience
  • Collaborate with influencers
  • Plug a CTA
  • Special discounts and offers

Build trust

With an uproar of a variety of products available in the market, customers can be faced with the dilemma of too many choices. To stand out from the crowd, you have to use Instagram Stories in a way that builds trust in the viewer's minds and as you already know, customers always prefer to buy from a trusted brand.

Use Story Advertisements

Women wering rings, earrings, and necklaces.
Vivamcity jewelry uses Story advertisements that showcase multiple products of their brand. (Credits: @vivamcity)

More and more marketing strategies are now focused on making the most out of Instagram Stories. As a result, a hefty amount of money is spent on advertising in this space. To make your advertisements catchy, try different templates for the same. Keep the advertisements interesting, trendy, and subtle.

Highlight your product

Gourmet popcorn in a tin can and cheddar crackers in a box.
The image on the left shows a very poor quality Story of a gourmet popcorn brand. The one on the right, however, is a product image of high quality that is well thought of. Hence, the latter makes the product look top-notch. (Credits for the right image: @pipcorn)

What idea a viewer gets about your e-commerce website is completely dependent on how you present yourself. Instagram Stories are the perfect way to catch the attention of potential viewers. Here you need to make your products seem as realistic and of good quality as possible so that the viewers get an urge to buy or avail the showcased product or service.

Work on the shopping experience

The shopping experience on Instagram can be a tricky thing to get right. Some people may feel that the product or service is not portrayed effectively. It may also be so that they think that Instagram lacks adequate details on a product or service. To get things rolling, make sure you create a detailed product description, add stickers on your Instagram Stories, and link it to where the viewer can buy the product.

Collaborate with influencers

Influencers are all the rage on Instagram right now. Anyone’s explore feed has at least a few influencers on it. Moreover, influencers are not only trending, they have loyal followers who swear by the products these influencers use. If you can get some influencers to showcase or promote your products or services, it will give induce in their followers a desire to get their hands on your products and services too.

Plug a CTA

Women wearing golden hoop earrings of different sizes.
The shopping links & View Product buttons add a strong CTA to the Story (Credits: @biko_official)

Disappearing Instagram Stories work in your favor since they provide a sense of urgency to the viewer. Since these Stories only stay on Instagram for a duration of 24 hours, they give the viewers the FOMO (fear of missing out). The smartest way to induce this sense into viewers is to indicate an action that they are supposed to take after watching the story, which will in turn lead to the product page of your website. This is why you need to embed a CTA (call to action) in your Story, encouraging buyers to buy the product right then.

Special discounts and offers

AWomen wearing Arican style tops whose prices are listed.
Grass-Fields, a women's clothing brand, posts stories about special offers, discounts, and sales. It also highlights the items that are under sale (Credits: @grass_fields)

It goes without saying that discounts, sales, and special offers are a no-brainer way to attract customers. After all, who does not like to take a load off their pockets? You can offer the seasonal sale of your products, like summer sales or winter sales. These can be based on special occasions too like Christmas. On the other hand, special offers like discounts to the first 50 customers work like a charm as well. Whatever be your method, make sure the offer stands out significantly in your Instagram Story.

Now that I have stories, How to make them go viral?

The best way to make your Instagram Story reach thousands of people is through Instagram advertisements. However, there are some other hacks through which your e-commerce site can take a step closer to becoming a household name. Oh, and did I mention that these are absolutely free?

  • Be consistent
  • Use location tags
  • Keep it short
  • Give a defined structure
  • Keep reposts limited
  • Make it newsworthy
  • Use hashtags

Post consistently

Consistency is the key when it comes to reaching a large audience with your Instagram Stories. It has been noticed that accounts that post at irregular intervals are far less likely to get to the feed of people than those who maintain a regular cycle with their content. The higher the consistency of your Instagram Stories, the more likely your e-commerce account is to get to more users. This in turn increases the chance of your Story appearing when a user taps through their daily Stories feed. Subsequently, your Instagram Story will eventually climb the position of ranking in their feeds.

Use location tags for targeted reach

Location tags are the next best thing after hashtags when it comes to bumping up your Instagram Story reach. Location tags significantly take the views for your Story up a notch since these Stories will appear whenever someone searches for a particular location. Once a user searches for the location that is tagged in your Story, all Instagram Stories that have tagged the particular place will appear on the top left corner of the search page. This keeps all Stories with the same location tag under one roof. Location tags can be a lifesaver for lifestyle-related e-commerce brands, particularly the ones that deal with edibles or travel and tourism.

Short stories get shared

With the increasing comfort of making getting everything at the click of a button, people no longer have the patience of watching something lengthy. This applies to all your Instagram Stories as well. Nobody likes to watch a Story that feels like it is spanning through ages. To avoid this keep the duration of your Stories limited. According to research, the optimum time for an Instagram Story should be within seven seconds.

Build a story arc

Like all good content, your Instagram Story too should have a well-defined structure. Movies, novels, comics, you name it and they have all got a beginning, a middle, and an ending. So why should your Instagram Stories be left out? The beginning slid should be juicy and enticing to grab the attention of viewers. On the other hand, the middle can be informative or can have a climax depending on the nature of your Story. Finally, make sure you draw a conclusion that brings together a positive ending that will lead viewers to shop for your products.

Keep reposts limited

It has been observed that sharing stories from other pages is not likely to bode well for your business account. While it is important to showcase what customers are saying about your products and services, your Stories should not be solely about that. Keeping a check on reposts, and bumping up original content should be a priority.

Make it newsworthy

Is your product offering something new that the world has never seen before? Are you launching a new product line? Will the product help any cause? If your answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then your product can make the news. Anything new attracts viewers. If your Story is informative and has the qualities of what makes news, then it will attract more and more views and shares.

Use hashtags

Procedure of making coffee.
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters uses hashtags to explain the various processes that go behind making their coffee (Credits: @49th)

Hashtags are a great way to engage your audience since they signify everything that is trending. Hashtags may be used to start a dialogue on your Instagram Story. You could urge your followers to continue the hashtag with a story of their own. If you want your hashtags to stick with your audience, make sure they're consistent. For instance, if you want to hop on the trend of #throwbackthursdays, make sure you put up a memory or an old picture or video every Thursday without fail.

Conclusion

Keeping up with trends is one of the surefire ways to make sure that your e-commerce brand withstands the test of time. Since Instagram is a household name at present, making your mark through Instagram Stories helps you stay on trend while attracting the attention of many at a time. These Stories help you make users aware of your brand and the products and services you offer. Moreover, Instagram Stories offer a number of amazing features are to engage your viewers that help in driving traffic towards your account and your brand. This, in turn, results in the most fruitful outcome that any e-commerce business can hope for - sales. So what are you waiting for? Put up your Instagram Story now!