Instagram Stories for Engagement & Website Traffic

Instagram Stories is a feature on Instagram that like allows you to snap a picture or record a video, write text on it, pin text on videos and more.

Just like it’s competitor SnapChat, Instagram Stories disappears after 24 hours.  The major difference that makes it a winner is the various methods in which you can choose to promote your business, encourage engagement, and push traffic to your website.

Use Instagram Stories to:

  • Sell your product or services
  • Share your expertise
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Share exclusive content for special discounts or giveaways
  • Encourage sign ups to your email list
  • Create more transparency 
  • Get feedback via Polls
  • And more like sharing reviews and providing phone wallpapers

Let’s go more in depth with each method.

Sell your product and services

Take photos of featured products in the best lighting at the best angle. With the Instagram Story text feature, you can use different font options to compliment the image.  Use the color dropper tool to find the exact color that suits your brand or the image to draw the eye to your Story.

Then once you’ve edited your Story image, click the “link” icon at the top to connect the Story to a specific website link so that all they have to do is “Swipe Up” to start shopping.

Note:  The “Swipe Up” feature is only available to accounts with 10K followers or more. If you have 10,000 followers or more, you can connect your website link so viewers can swipe up and shop.  If you don’t have this feature, mention “Link in bio” and use the text feature to tag yourself so it’s easier for viewers to get to your profile.

Examples: Camille Rose Naturals & Sons and Daughters TV

     

Build anticipation for an upcoming product

Show an upcoming product in your Instagram Story to give followers a first-look and build anticipation.  Their feedback might even help you forecast the amount of stock designated for online sales.

Examples: Camille Rose Naturals giving a first look at their Super Foods Hair Vitamin before it has been released in the market.

Share your expertise

To further support your posts, you can create a short video talking about your specialty or address questions that people might have about you or your product.  

Examples: Fitness Professional and Former Ms. Bikini Olympia Natalia Melo doing a live video to show her followers how she’s losing her baby weight.  Also, a Biossance representative explains the science behind their beauty product.

     

Tip: You can also create longer videos and use the Storio app to split the video into to short continuous clips. Elevation Church is very skilled at utilizing this feature. So feel free to check them out to get a better understanding!

Answer frequently asked questions

Create Q and A images to educate viewers and establish your expertise.

Example: Barnett Marketing Solutions addresses a simple question on branding.

     

Share exclusive content for special discounts or giveaways

A great way to engage followers is to use your Story for a special offer or giveaway, using your post to tell people to go to your Story for an exclusive offer that will only last 24 hours. Creating urgency will get people to move. 

The offer can require them to tag their friends (to increase visibility and company awareness), sign up to your email list, and/or use specific promote code upon checkout.  

Example: Women’s CEO Project founder offers a special deal on her “Grow Your Business” ebook, letting followers know they only have a limited time.  Natalia Melo promotes a giveaway for one of her pregnancy ebooks.

     

Encourage sign ups to your email list

We can link the exclusive offer and email lists together here. So there are two ways you can do this.  

  1. You can simply mention that followers should join your tribe for special news and discounts with a Swipe Up / Link in bio option.
  2. You can tease the next offer that viewers might have missed by telling them to sign up to your email list. That way, they’ll have another way to get the discount even if they miss the story.

Examples: Fitness Guru Natalia Melo’s nutrition eBook release and Barnett Marketing’s Boss Brand sign up

     

Be transparent

Show your followers a behind the scenes look at your business or personal life, especially if it’s entertaining. This is what’s great about Instagram Stories– there are no branding rules and you show what you want.  Since it disappears in 24 hours, you have more flexibility to be yourself without worrying about deleting it later.

Note: People can screenshot though, so be careful!

Examples: Business Guru (1K-in-1Day) Nicole Walters showing her excitement in Whole Foods. Also, Biossance employees show a behind the scenes look at how they get the perfect product shot.

     

Polls

Running a poll is one of the easiest ways to engage your followers.  Show followers that you value their opinion asking for feedback in your Instagram Story.

Example: Biossance uses the poll feature to get feedback on the kind of tips followers want to see.

Customer Reviews and Wallpapers

Post customer reviews to your Story to gain credibility.  For the wallpaper, tell viewers in a previous post to hold down and screenshot. It’s a nice little gift to them, and they will continue to engage with you.

Examples: BootyQueen Apparel’s customer review and phone wallpaper. 

     

The Wrap Up

Using these tactics will definitely increase the level of engagement in your account and increase traffic to your website when used correctly.  My personal suggestion is to strategize, but also have fun with it!  I’ll even give you another tip: Create the Instagram Story graphic in Canva using dimensions “1080 x 1920” and store them in your Design Library.  And the Stories that take a lot of time to design, save and reuse them! 🙂

 

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Canva: How to Create Social Media Post Graphics

Intro to Canva

Canva is a free graphic-design tool website used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tool can be used for both web and print media design and graphics, and access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. In my opinion, Canva is really awesome. Like…I love it….I love it a lot.

HEADS UP: If you already have experience with Canva, by all means, skip the intro stuff by clicking here so we can get to the nitty gritty!

The Basics

The sidebar from top to bottom:

-User info, once you create an acccount

-Create a design: Self explanatory

-All your designs: All the designs you’ve created on Canva

-Shared with you: A colleague or client can share designs via the email address registered on Canva, and the program stores it here.

-Team members: If you have employees are team members, you can add them specifically as “team members” so that sharing designs is easier for you.  Those with free accounts can add up to 10 team members.

-Your brand: NOT FOR US FREE ACCOUNT USERS! Yea, you have to upgrade to Canva for Work to get this feature. However, you create your own sheet using our Boss Brand Guide. If you don’t have it, sign up to be a Boss Brand and you’ll get it for free. Shameless plug? Whatevs. Haha.

-Find templates: An area that has various templates depending on your needs such as social media, etsy banner, flyers, etc.

-Add new folder:  Looks like us Free Account users can only add up to 2 folders. Anything beyond that requires a Canva for Work membership.

-Trash: When you delete designs, Canva will store it in its Trash section for 30 days before permanently remove it.  This feature has been a life saver for me recently.

Creating a Design

You can choose any template by using what is shown or clicking the “more” button to the right.  If you need to create a graphic with custom dimensions, all you have to do is click “Use custom dimensions” at the top right and enter the width and height in pixels.

This feature is a MUST when creating covers for your social media platforms because they are not in the templates.  The Boss Brand Guide has  pixel dimensions for all the popular social media platforms to ensure your graphics look their best.

Since this tutorial is for creating a social media post, we’re just going to click the “social media” template.

Your Work Area

Another tab will open up and your work are will look like the image above.  Let’s quickly introduce the menu bar and tools on the left side.

Free Photos: Pretty self explanatory. Canva will show you all the photos available for free. However, they are not sorted out.  So it’s better to user the search bar above it to find what you want and Canva will automatically show you the free ones first.Grids: Similar to Pic-Stich, you can combine photos into one organized graphic.

Frames: Add a frame to your graphic.

Shapes: Add shapes to your graphic. (Boy, this part is easy!)

Lines: Add lines to your graphic.

Illustrations: Drawings of images, not photos. What’s cool about illustrations in Canva is that one you choose it, you can change the color(s).

Icons: You can also change color(s) of icons as well.

Charts: It’s obvious, but honestly….I’ve never used this in Canva.  I usually use the charts in Word or Excel, but perhaps you can make your data more attractive creating the chart here.

I Love Canva: All kinds of fun Canva icons, which is great for someone like me who is doing tutorials because I don’t have to search for Canva pngs.  It’s all in one place!


Text: Canva helps you out by giving you Header 1, 2 and 3 sizes (top 3) so that you’ll have the size figured out and all you have to do is change the font if needed.  They also provide some really beautiful samples that you can add to your graphic.  You just click it, and update the words to your own.

Background: You can set the background to a color by choosing one on the default palette or click the square with the plus sign to create your own color using the shade selector or enter the exact hexadecimal color. The exact hexadecimal color is essential for maintaining consistency in your brand.

Refer to your Boss Brand Guide for more on hexadecimal colors.

Uploads: You can upload images to your library so that images such as your brand logo are readily available.

The Nitty Gritty

To get my background image, I’m going to search “office” in the search bar.  The image is a naturally a rectangle, but I’m going to pull the corner of the image out to make it big enough to fill the enter area of the square.

     

 

Then to create my overlay, you go to Elements: Shapes.  Choose the square. Canva should automatically center if for you. (If not, you’ll fix it in the next few steps.)  To make the square some transparency, click the checkered button and drag the circle to the left to your desired level of transparency.

   

 

Centering: If you still need to center the square (you can do this anything in Canva), you can drag it until you see the purple dashes create 4 perfect squares.  That means it’s centered.

 

Now I’m going to save you from utter boredom by showing you all the rest in one graphic (made in Canva, of course).

 

Name your file by clicking the name generic name Canva provided (sometimes it’s Untitled, or the first few words of your text).

 

The download your file. Canva recommends PNG, and I also agree because PNG files keep the integrity of the graphic while JPGs tend to lose some of the quality especially when resized.  You also have the option to download the graphic as a PDF.  The “All pages” only applies if you created multiple pages of graphics in one file. I’ll explain next.

 

If you want to create all your social media templates in one file, you can click what looks like 2 sheets of paper next to the page number by the graphic. It will create a copy.  I suggest completing the graphic, copying it and replacing the background.  Then if you need to change the wording, the fonts and everything are already set.  Super easy!

Want to see how a post is created in real time?  Watch it here!
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Instagram’s Algorithm Change in 2018: What You Need To Do About It

You might have noticed that your posts aren’t getting as much love as they used to. You’re not alone. Instagram’s new algorithm change in 2018 has drastically changed post visibility to the point where businesses and entrepreneurs who heavily rely on the platform for sales are suffering.

Seriously, you’ve been scheduling days to meticulously design your Instagram graphics/posts, writing all the captions and scheduling them out. OR you just took a bomb selfie and want to post it right away.  Your followers will see it in their feed and give you a bunch of Likes, right?  According to Instagram’s new algorithm, not necessarily.

Instead of showing posts in chronological order, Instagram said they made changes based on users’ previous behaviors or reactions to posts as a way to “improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” Yep, because they are in your brain after all.

Instagram also explained in their blog that the order of photos and videos in our feeds will be based on the likelihood we’ll be interested in the content, our relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.

 It’s All About Engagement

Engagement is what Instagram wants. So all those silly comments under your picture with the raised hands, three hearts, or that ridiculous “Nice pic. You should check out my page,” is all methods of engaging.  But here’s where it gets good: Instagram will also be tracking how quickly you respond to those comments or your post visibility could change.

Dang, that’s rough. How will can we adhere to these new rules and still win?

Instagram Stories: Your New BFF

Instagram Stories (IG Stories, because I’m not going to keep writing it out) along with WhatsApp have 300 million users each. Yep, you read it right– 300 MILLION. So if you’re trying to be seen, make use of that bad boy.  Here are some ways to use IG Stories to draw people to your post:

  1. Take a screenshot of your profile feed and cover up your latest post with a sticker and tell people to check your latest post.
  2. Post the same image as the post, but only a portion of it. Tell your audience to go to your post to see the whole thing. This would work well if the photo is compelling or entertaining.
  3. Use IG Stories to entertain or show your real life…because people appreciate that your a human being.  Then, they will naturally click to your profile to view your posts.

I also want to add that IG Stories not have the same color demands as your profile feed. Just be real and/or entertaining to get your audience interacting. And the more a user interacts with your Story, the more visibility your posts will be in their feed.

Post Quality Content

Yea….your posts are going to have to take a little more effort these days. It not only has to be eye-catching and relevant to your profile, BUT it also has to look good as a whole in your entire feed.  “Why,” you ask.  Well, Instagram is also measuring how quickly your audience engages (Likes or comments) on your post as well as how long they spend on it. So a semi-decent photo that gets a Like here and there throughout the week won’t cut it if you want Instagram to increase your visibility. We’ve got to be more intentional about what we post now people!

And with that being said, I’m suggesting that you keep a color scheme in place while using the same 2 or 3 filters to have a profile feed that’s pleasing to the eye.  It shouldn’t be monotonous, but it should users should sense a theme throughout. Here’s a few examples of good profiles.

Lashawn McKinzie:

She empowers Home Stagers to leverage social media. She sure knows how to do it!

 

Shop Studio DIY:

Making life a party. Doesn’t their feed give you happy vibes?

 

Respond to Comments in a Timely Manner

Now, I’ve read on some sources that Instagram not only wants to see users engage quickly to posts but they also want YOU to respond to the comments you receive asap. Um….yea….Instagram we have news for you: We. Have. LIVES.

So here’s my suggestion: Schedule 30 minutes to an hour of your day maybe twice per day to respond to comments.  Do NOT and I repeat, DO NOT stop your daily activities and respond all day long. We have jobs and families relying on us. Ain’t nobody got time for Instagram’s games. Handle the requirement in a way that keeps you sane.

Bonus suggestion: If you have the funds, you can use the Pro Version of social media management apps out there like Buffer, Social Bee, Later, Preview App, and Hootsuite.  The good thing with these apps is that you can also organize your posts so you see exactly what it looks like in your feed before you post as well as view all your comments in one place.

Use Those Hashtags Wisely

Making up hashtags is fun, isn’t it? Well you don’t have to stop necessarily, but if you are a business trying to target a specific audience, you might want to be more mindful of how you are using those hashtags.  You want to make sure you hashtag the category of users who will benefit from seeing your post.  For example, if you sell baby clothes, your hashtags would not only be #babywear or #babyclothes, but #newmom #momlife #mommy.  If you sell a swaddler that keeps the baby asleep longer, you will want to hashtag #tiredmom or #tiredmommy.

You will want to avoid overly used hashtags that are tied to millions of posts because then your post will get lost in the search feed.  Use ones that are used by smaller crowds so that you’ll stand out, and if you want to use many one of the popular ones you can. Mix it up.

 

Steer Clear of Banned Hashtags

Yes, you’d probably guess by now that there are just some hashtags that Instagram is totally over. “Babe,” “Curvy,” and even “Beyonce” are currently banned from being used.  Using them won’t get you any additional visibility. In fact, you can be “shadow banned,” which is a term meaning that your posts are blocked from appearing in certain places on a platform, and you won’t even know it. 

Here’s how to find out if a hashtag is banned:

  1. Go to the Search or Magnifying glass
  2. At the top under the search bar, you will see “Top, People, Tags, Places…” Click TAGS.
  3. Type the hashtag you intend you use. If it’s a common one that isn’t showing up, it’s banned. Obviously, this doesn’t apply if you are making up your own hashtag. Just ones that you’d think would be there.

Do the Best You Can

Now that you have this information, simply do the best you can.  Even though I manage social media accounts, I am not about letting it give you massive anxiety.  Post your best images, work your hustle, redirect your audience to your website, build your lists, and make some sales.

Let’s Talk: What’s going to be the biggest obstacle for you to overcome with these new Instagram requirements?

 

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