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How to Inspire Customers Through Instagram Storytelling

Instagram now has 700-plus million users (and the number keeps growing), and 63 percent of millennials use the site. In other words, if you want your business to connect with the world’s fastest growing super buyers, then learning the art of Instagram storytelling is a must! But storytelling on Instagram is just that—an art, and like any art, it requires finesse and a different approach than other marketing techniques.

Don’t Just Sell 

Instagram isn’t about selling: it’s about telling. Stories are the currency of this social site, and every image that has a story to tell has a place. The key here is to use Instagram to curate your brand, cultivate your image, and share your story through images and videos. Patagonia is an excellent example of this.

They’ve established themselves as the grandparents of adventure, and they use their Instagram feed to tell the stories of a worldwide community of outdoor lovers and enthusiasts as they scale the highest peaks, swim the deepest oceans, and explore everything the Earth has to offer in between. Other things you can use your Instagram storytelling for include:

  • Educating audiences (Patagonia, for instance, uses their storytelling to draw attention to environmental issues)
  • Start conversations about issues that matter to your brand
  • Define your brand and align yourself with certain narratives

Plus, now you can include multiple images in your post so it has never been easier to tell a story in a single post. This is so important for ecommerce businesses because they can show the utility, steps or variations of their product in a single post instead of a video or multiple posts!

The key takeaway here is to not merely snap photos of your product or service, but convey the personality and vibe of your company. This can mean quotes that are ‘on-brand’ or customers using your products. Notice how Patagonia doesn’t exclusively showcase their product? They’re an adventure-oriented company and their Instagram successfully conveys that.

Use Visuals That Show Your Product as a Problem-Solver

This is part and parcel of using Instagram to tell stories rather than selling products and services. Instagram is a great way to share all the myriad of ways your company can solve problems. For instance, Nest Cam, the indoor security camera company, created #NestCam to assemble user-generated videos of all the things customers use their cameras for. And ok, maybe no huge global crises were solved, but people tackled fun and engaging questions like “What does my pet do all day when I’m not there,” or “Is it a raccoon or squirrel bandit breaking into the garbage?” This can only serve as great insight into how your customers are interacting with your product or service. Always be sure to check your company hashtag or tagged photos to find user-generated content and keep track of your social presence!

Create a Community

One of the most impactful things you can use Instagram for is to forge communities, create a sense of belonging among like-minded people, and show the role your brand plays in the community. A perfect example of this type of brand community is P&G’s Being Girl community, which brings together an enormous demographic of people who use their products: girls and women. The community uses hashtags like #LikeAGirl, hosts conversations, and provides resources to help girls and women explore issues, topics, and questions that all women face. Another part of this is engaging with your audience. If someone comments on your photo, like the comment and reply with a ‘thank you’ or thoughtful insight on what they’ve said. Just as with other social media channels, it’s all about being social. Ask questions, comment on similar accounts or those who follow you and post consistently. 

Use Descriptions Wisely

Photo captions and video descriptions are an important part of the narrative you create on Instagram. But descriptions shouldn’t just recap what a photo is already conveying: the captions must add to the story. Instead of recounting the imagery, use descriptions to explore specific elements of the images, provide background, educate, ask questions or problem solve. It’s also important to use relevant hashtags because just as with Twitter, it’s how new users find your page. (It’s probably not in your best interest to only use the hashtag #TotesAmaze though, even if it is)

Encourage Audience Engagement

Instagram without audience engagement is like playing a movie to an empty theater—there’s no point. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can engage audiences using Instagram. These include creating and using hashtags to encourage others to add to your story, using links so that audiences can follow your story from beginning to end, asking questions, responding to questions, and by drawing attention to social, environmental, political, and other causes that are near and dear to your brand.

The key to inspiring customers and telling stories through Instagram is to change your approach from using Instagram as a selling tool to using it as a brand, image, and community building tool. When used effectively, Instagram will connect you with audiences all over the globe on a more human level, and especially for younger buyers like millennials, there’s no better way to build relationships between consumers and brands.


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