Instagram Stories came along last August and what seemed initially like Instagram trying to copy SnapChat has quickly become one of the most popular new social media tools to drop in the past few years.
Stories can be a massive boon to your lawn care business. What better way to show your customers your work ethic or how good your lawns look? Used correctly, it could be one of your most significant social media marketing tools.
Here I’ll briefly explain how Stories work (and how they’re different than Snaps), how to use the tool, how to create engagement through its features, and how your lawn care company can use Instagram Stories to grow.
What Are Instagram Stories?
If you’re an Instagram user, you’ve probably seen Stories pop up at the top of your feed. They’re the graduated circle icons of some of the people and brands that you follow. If you tap one, you’ll see that user’s Story. If you have ever used Snapchat, then you should be reasonably familiar with the format. Mostly, they’re disappearing videos that allow you to add various filters and stickers.
Instagram didn’t want to merely make a Snapchat clone however and to set their app apart, they still allow you to maintain your picture feed and add stories, which are featured, so you have the opportunity of a double dip into people’s lives. They also give you better writing tools and allow you to use pictures that are already on your phone as long as they’re less than 24 hours old along with a few other features we’ll cover in a bit.
How To Use Instagram Stories
First, make sure you set up Stories correctly. Click on your profile image and head over to your settings at the top left. There you’ll be able to set Stories to behave as you would like them to. If you want to save the pictures and video you use, you can fix it to do so there. You can also manage who sees your Stories and determine whether you’d like to see replies to posts.
Next, you’ll want to poke around a bit and get used to what each tool can do. The first thing you’ll need to do is press the “camera” icon at the top left of your feed. You’ll see a few icons at the bottom that will present you different options along with a “slideable” text that allows you to choose the format of your Story post.
Let’s talk about those icons quickly
The “gallery” icon will allow you to choose recent pictures from your library.
The “lightning” icon is your flash.
The “circular arrows” icon is to switch from front to back camera.
The “face” icon with the twinkles will allow you to create a scene or add stickers. The stickers feature is where a lot of the novelty is at as auto-detects your face and where it should place items such as a top hat or bunny ears. All you need to do to record is press and hold the white button between the icons.
Before you record, you’ll need to choose a Story format type
There’s “Live,” which, like the name implies, is a live broadcast.
“Normal” allows you to record video and add filters without any other special video effects.
“Boomerang” is likely the format I see used most often, and it produces a 2-second loop of sped up video captured in 4 seconds that gets played forward and backward on repeat. You can add stickers, text, and colors to it and it makes for a nice little digestible pseudo-GIF.
“Rewind,” just does what you think it does and allows you to record videos to be played entirely in reverse. You can use the stickers, color, and text with that as well.
Lastly, there’s “Hands-Free” that will let you hit record and do your thing without having to hold the white button.
You can take all of these segments and add them to your Story or use them individually. If you want someone to know what your day looks like start to finish, you can. If you’re going to show people, like Charity Water did recently, the journey a person in a 3rd world country has to take to get water, you can. Use the tool to do what it suggests you should and tell a story.
Tips To Use Stories To Engage Users
Use Mentions In Your Stories
Technically, you can’t @ someone or mention them in your story but Instagram decided to give a workaround to savvy users, and if you write their handle in the picture, they’ll get a notification. It’s another feature that Instagram can offer its users that Snapchat simply can’t.
Provide Useful Content
Don’t simply use Instagram Stories as a marketing platform (actually, go ahead and apply that rule to all of social media.). You can most certainly let your customers know what you’re working on this week but it won’t mean much if you don’t make the announcement useful. Let them know how they can get in on what you’re doing.
Check Your Messages
I would encourage you to allow other users to send you messages. This will give you another avenue to allow folks to interact with your business. It may also invite spam but not many things in life won’t these days. Mostly, you’ll see people responding to your Stories and that will allow you to craft them a bit more going forward.
Keep Up With Your Numbers
The other great thing about Stories is that you can very easily see your view count. Just open your story and swipe up. There you’ll see how many people saw it along with names. Not only that but you can also see which individual parts of your story people looked at more often. You can then use that data to add to or delete content that doesn’t resonate.
Don’t Forget The Point
All of the engagement in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t connect with people and show them the value of your service. Your job is to reach as many local people as you can that might be interested in your business. Even if the audience is your 254 followers on Instagram, you can make the content funny, smart, engaging, and interactive but ultimately, make the content matter.