5 Instagram Story Tricks For Your Small Business

May 4, 2020
5 min read

Instagram stories are one of the best things to happen to small businesses.

They represent an incredible opportunity to market to customers in real time.

While big brands sometimes take days to plan and launch a series of Instagram stories, many small businesses don’t have that kind of time or overhead.

You’ll be happy to know…

That doesn’t matter.  

This post is going show you five tricks on how to use Instagram stories effectively for your small business.

Without spending hours planning or thousands of dollars on creative assets and influencers.

You can meet your customers right where they are with a few creative techniques that have proven effective in 2020.

person holding phone open to Instagram profile

Some Interesting Instagram Stats

Instagram was launched in 2010 and since than has become a monster in the social media marketing game.

Don’t believe us?

Here are some bonkers stats from 2020:

  • Brands post an average of 2.5 stories a week
  • of the most viewed stories are from businesses
  • 500 Million Instagram accounts check stories every day
  • 1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers look for stories of the products they want to buy
  • 6% of businesses use Instagram Stories for product promotion

So how do small business owners cash in on all the fun?

This post will teach you some popular Instagram Story tricks that are being used right now to grow brands around the world.

Read: How To Take Better Instagram Pictures in 2020

#1 Story Storms

Within the parameters of an Instagram Story users have 30 seconds to share an idea.

That’s on purpose.

Instagram wants the story tool to be used concisely. Long form videos are for IGTV, anyways.

However… when used sparingly, Story Storms are a unique way of adding long-form content to your stories about a particular topic, event or product.

pineapple wearing sunglasses with text beside it that says "Story Storm: a continuous stream of updates about the same topic."

How It Works: A Story Storm is a continuous stream of updates about the same topic. Maybe you’re having an event with exclusive offers.

Teasing a post on your Instagram page about it and then asking your followers to tune into your Story Storm can be an effective way of capturing an audience for a longer time.

It also adds value as the story disappears after 24 hours. Don’t tune in and you miss all the details!

black hallway with giant neon question mark

Always Ask a Question

The ultimate goal of social media is to engage with your followers in real time. What better way to do that then to ask a question? You can do this a variety of ways.

For example, after a Story Storm, leave your viewers with a question:

  • What do you think?
  • Have a better idea to share?
  • Do you agree with me?
  • What’s your favourite product that we carry?

This is a great way to get real insight into the people that are viewing your content on a daily basis. Asking questions puts a call to action in the hands of your followers. As you engage with their answers you also create a relationship of trust and respect.

young man taking selfie

#2 Takeovers

One of the best and easiest ways to generate excitement on your Instagram stories is letting someone take-it over for the day. This could be a follower, employee or someone else in your industry with a following.

Not only does this automatically double your viewership because their followers will join yours in watching, it gives your business a genuine and authentic image.

Takeovers can also be a fun way to be competitive while still having fun.

person taking photo of a coast line and the ocean on their phone

#3 Encourage DM Slides

The best way to increase engagement through Instagram stories is direct messages.

That’s why asking a question is so effective.

In your stories ask your followers to either click on a link in your bio or send you a direct message!

Direct messages help you build connections and further engage with followers about your brand.

In the beginning, you might only get a few responses.

But that just means you have time to answer them all -- which you always should.

Insider Tip: Sending them a video message makes it that much more personable.

man in black shirt staring down at his iphone

#4 Go Behind The Senes

This has proven to be one of the most effective ways to use Instagram stories.

People love getting a taste of what goes on behind the scenes. Not only does it humanize the brands they love, it lets them get a feel for the people that make the machine go.

We have seen this strategy employed brilliantly across dozens of industries.

  • Restaurants use it to highlight a new menu item.
  • Retailers give their customers a glimpse at some of the new products they have hitting the shelves in the upcoming weeks.
  • Car dealerships use this strategy to show their customers what happens in the shop after their vehicle gets dropped off.
videographer filming in a studio

Giving a glimpse creates anticipation. It also humanizes your business.

Even better?

It generates excitement and that leads to engagement. The more your followers feel like they know your brand, the more loyal they become.

#5 Go Live

This wouldn’t be a very thorough post about Instagram stories if it didn’t include going live.

In the age where social distancing has eliminated so many of the public forums in which brands and Instagram Influencers used to engage with their followers, Instagram Live has become the next-best-thing.

Live is the most organic way to connect with your followers in real time.

For small business owners, it’s a chance to show your human side.

  • You could go live from the kitchen in a cozy sweater.
  • Maybe you decide to share something new from the couch.

Live is letting your followers get a glimpse into your life.

video camera recording woman in a library

Going LIVE is the ultimate form of social media connection.

Because of the relaxed nature of a live feed, it’s a great opportunity to announce something new.

The best part about Instagram live stories? Anything goes!

Mistakes are common and expected. While bigger companies pre-plan their live events, small businesses are under no such obligation to be that polished.

Shoot off the hip. Be real.

Your followers will appreciate it.

Why Do Instagram Stories Matter?

When you operate a small business, it usually means you are working with a fairly limited marketing budget.

Any opportunity to reach your customers in an authentic and effective way at a reasonable price is worthy of your attention.

Instagram Stories Do Just That

As social media evolves, brands are constantly reinventing the ways they communicate with their followers.

Instagram stories are an ever-evolving tool that allows marketers and business owners to be fluid and adapt with the tides of change.

They’re easy and fun to create. They also allow you to be creative and unique in the way you tell your story.

Better yet…

They cost nothing to make and are one of the most direct ways to reach your target audience online.

girl standing in black jacket looking at the Sand Fran bridge


While we love Instagram stories for its ability to outreach in new and unique ways, try to avoid using it as a sales-only tool.

If anything, reserve your stories for engaging content and conversation development.

The more authentic your content is, the more likely followers are going to engage with it.

While there are dozens of other ways to make your stories effective like…

  • Geotagging
  • Hashtagging
  • Link building

These five tips will help you get started in a big way. And if you’re really curious… click the link below to learn even more ways you can dominate on Instagram.

Read: How Small Business Are Winning on Instagram

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