So you’re on Instagram, but so are 700 million other people, with 25 million of those being businesses. How can you make yourself stand out in a sea of literally millions of other Instagrammers? (Yes, it’s a word, we checked. Merriam-Webster is more than likely adding it to the dictionary as you read this.) One word: Stories. You’ve most likely watched Instagram Stories from some of your favorite ‘grammers, be it other florists, bloggers or friends. And you’ve probably loved them, right? Instagram Stories are a great way to not only be seen on Instagram, but to connect more personally with clients as well.
According to Instagram, one-third of the most viewed Stories on the platform are from businesses - a huge number when you consider business profiles only make up about 28% of the total users on Instagram. And even better news, two-thirds of visits to business profiles are users that don’t already follow that business on Instagram. With 300 million Instagram users viewing Stories daily, that’s a lot of opportunities to get your content before the eyes of potential customers, and current customers that you want to keep coming back for more of your floral magic.
We know, we know, we’re total data geeks and we just threw a lot of numbers at you! But aside from all of the technological reasons (changing algorithms, engagement, etc.) there are so many other ways and reasons to be using Stories for your business. So now that you’re on board, we want to share some of the different ways you can use them to your benefit and achieve the engagement you need to run a successful business in the age of Social Media!
One of our most asked questions when it comes to Instagram is whether or not to share BTS (behind-the-scenes) and personal images on your business feed. Well, when answering that question, there are many things to consider. The Instagram feed has now become your portfolio… brides will scroll through yours and decide within SECONDS if they like your work and want to reach out to you. And with all of the beautifully curated feeds out there, you do want to compete with those and make sure yours is consistent and representative of your brand. However, with all of those beautifully curated feeds, how do YOU stand out? To a potential bride or customer who doesn’t necessarily look at flowers and weddings all day, it can be overwhelming to differentiate between all the pretty! Well, Stories are a great way to set yourself apart and show the world a little bit about the designer behind the flowers.
I don’t know about you, but when the time comes for me to choose all of the vendors for my wedding, I not only want to love their work, but I want to love them. Stories is a space to share your personality - if you’re a big goofball in real life, show us! Are you witty and sarcastic and have an opinion on just about everything? You bet there’s going to be someone out there who connects with that. Instagram users and potential clients love seeing little pieces of your life outside of work - it helps them feel like they know you even if in reality, you've never met.
Stories are also a great place to share some BTS of your day-to-day life as a florist... the “ugly” stuff. We know that gorgeous centerpiece on that carefully curated tablescape didn’t just appear… show us how it got there! The process can be just as interesting for your clients or fellow vendors, and as an added bonus, it shows them just how much hard work goes into being a florist, something people don’t always realize! On top of potential clients, this is also a great way to network and connect with other vendors in the industry, making “Instagram friends” if you will, who want to work with you in the future and will direct their clients to you. Win-win!
Okay, so let’s quickly recap the WHY’S of using Stories:
- To show off that sparkling (or goofy) personality of yours
- To show your process and a little BTS of your life as a florist
- To increase engagement on your content
- To network with industry vendors
So now that you have a little more insight into some of the benefits of using Stories, here are some tips, tricks and how-to's to achieving that.
Going live can be super intimidating, but Instagram has made it so easy that it’s really not that big of a deal! We’ve seen florists use Live videos in a number of ways… from live design demonstrations to Q+A’s (both personal and business related), Live stories are a great way to interact in real time and allow your followers to ask questions for you to answer right then and there. If you’re not already following Ponderosa & Thyme, she uses Instagram Live all the time and is one of our favorites to tune into.
If your Instagram is a business account (which it should be) one of our most utilized features is the good ‘ole “Swipe Up!” for links. Whether you want to share new content you’ve posted to your blog or website, or you just want to direct customers/brides to your contact page, this feature is exclusive to business profiles and sees really high engagement. When we started linking our new blog posts on Stories, we saw a huge increase in link opens and people reading and commenting on our blogs, and it makes complete sense with how convenient it is - a simple swipe and they’re right where you want them.
In the most general sense, polls can be a great way to find out WHAT your followers are interested in seeing. If you’re still struggling with determining what to post on your feed and/or Stories, do a little crowdsourcing!
Polls can also be used as fun little ways to interact with your followers, even if you’re not *really* looking for an answer. For example, posting two arrangements and asking them which they like best. Or maybe you DO want an answer! Your followers’ input could be just what you need to answer the important questions in life…. like blush vs. millennial pink ;)
It’s both a blessing and a curse that Stories only last 24 hours… but that all changed when Instagram introduced Highlights. If you went on an Insta-Rant (not yet a word, but it probably should be) about pricing and you want everyone to hear what you had to say, make it a Highlight! You can really use them for anything - a portfolio of your best work, a BTS of an event from start to finish, upcoming events or workshops - and you can add to individual highlights even after you've already posted the original one. If you need a little inspiration, Shean Strong has some great ones - from “Five Fun Facts” to our personal favorite, “Driving with Shean,” the possibilities are endless.
Fight the Algorithm
We’ve all heard about the changing algorithms, and because of them you might sometimes notice less engagement (likes & comments) on your posts. One way to help guide followers to new posts on your feed is to use Stories! Many bloggers & Influencers do this by screenshotting their feed and literally just saying “NEW POST!” as a way to direct them there and increase engagement. And in doing research for this blog, we learned that there might be some new features on the way to make sharing new posts even easier... stay tuned!
Insights & Tutorials
We've talked a lot about engagement and insights and all this technical stuff - but what does it all mean?! To find out how to analyze all this data, check out this article from Social Media Examiner... they can explain things a bit better than we can ;)
And if you're looking for some more technical help on how to use all of the great (and constantly evolving) features, check out these two helpful visual guides to help you master your Insta-Story game!
If you weren't already using Stories, we hope you've convinced you by now! If you have any questions or comments, or have discovered another creative use of them, share with us in the Comments below!