May 27, 2019

5 Ways to Leverage Storytelling in Instagram Stories

“Those who tell stories rule the world” Native American proverb

As humans, our complex psychological makeup and innate curiosity naturally draw us to the narrative.

In fact, studies confirm that social storytelling produces more than 65% of public conversations. According to HubSpot, when we obtain information from a story, rather than facts, more of our brain lights up. This illumination reminds us of this hardwired knowledge: that compelling stories can influence those around us.

This is why marketing and storytelling go hand in hand. Whether the story comes from a great novel, an eccentric family member, an epic movie or hard-hitting news, humans crave a good story.

Engage your audience through a gripping or heartfelt brand story, and you’ll strengthen your brand attention and customer loyalty.

Once upon a time, word of mouth marketing was the way forward. However social media is the core essence of modern-day content marketing. And the golden tools for modern-day marketers are Instagram and Instagram Stories.

The Use of Instagram’s Story Sharing Platform

Globally, over 25 million businesses use Instagram's platform and over 200 million users visit business accounts on a daily basis. With the increase in video marketing, Instagram stories have also become more popular, reaching 500 million daily active users. 

The common uses for Instagram stories are:

  • How-Tos and Tutorials
  • Behind-the-Scenes Stories
  • User-Generated Content
  • Special Announcements
  • Time-Sensitive Offers, Deals and Promos

While there are opportunities for these uses to incorporate story-like qualities, the concept of storytelling is washed out and therefore its ability to connect through rich emotion and innate understanding.

Even so, IG stories are growing 15 times faster than newsfeeds.

While this story sharing platform is undeniably successful, providing a 15-25 percent swipe-through rate since its introduction, increased audience engagement can only improve these statistics.

That’s where tried and true storytelling comes in.

5 Ways to Implement Storytelling into Instagram Stories

Here are the five best ways to fuse the power of storytelling and Instagram stories for the greatest amount of (lasting) impact.

1. Evoke a Reaction

In a sea of stories, one great story will make a person react.

And when it comes to marketing, one of the best reactions you can induce is curiosity.

In fact, studies have shown that where information gaps exist, readers experience a sense of suspense, and this curiosity leads them to click for more information.

Need a visual example? Let’s look at the design label, Alexander McQueen. Its IG stories hold a sense of artistic mystery in their lack of explanation as if the stories were part of a much bigger and more dramatic story.

Each of these videos ticks all the boxes:

  • Short n’ sweet (to fit in the 15-second time slot IG provides)
  • Incorporates gorgeous visuals
  • Includes an air of suspense
  • Hints towards a bigger story

2. Mix Passion with Practicality

In the digital marketing industry, where 5% of branded content attracts 90% of the total engagement, great storytelling is needed more than ever.

However, great storytelling doesn’t mean a lot of storytelling. As always, quality over quantity should be the rule, and these days, where people prefer the fastest route possible, those quality stories need to be absorbed – quickly.

It’s true that for Instagram, you need to be posting regularly; however, by following Gary Vaynerchuck’s advice, you should be documenting rather than creating.

This means you should be strategizing your IG stories something like this:

  • Document your pillar content, based on one, big idea or story (this can be the creation part).
  • Repurpose that content into “micro-content” (shorter stories, quotes, rants, etc.)
  • Distribute this micro-content or mini stories on your IG story feed.

Strategy is key – especially when you’re trying to convey a massive story or idea within a 15-second slot.

3. Combine Your Social Media Stories with Your Brand Story

Brand storytelling must start with a story.

For inspiration, let’s look at Shinola, a luxury goods brand that does a great job of translating its brand story to Instagram.

They emphasize their presence in the old industrial US city of Detroit and focus on detailed and quality products. Recently the brand posted a grand opening video of their hotel on Instagram, showing the hotel lighting up the streets of Detroit.

This video is reflective of their brand story that can be found on all other platforms: a symbol of skill, built by teamwork.

5 Ways to Leverage Storytelling in Instagram Stories

4. Be Genuine

As we’ve seen with Shinola, social media marketing is used to tell your brand’s story, not simply to sell your service or product. Users/viewers can see quickly if you’re using it as just another tactic to make money, if they think your stories seem gimmicky or just not genuine. Storytelling means sharing what you stand for with your audience. It means stirring emotions and introducing value to your audience’s daily lives.

With campaigns in every corner of your strategy, social media can be the one place you can unleash your creative freedom, to be real and honest with the world – characteristics that make a story worth reading (or watching).

Look at National Geographic. Through their Instagram Stories, NatGeo educates and promotes conservation efforts by organizations and individuals across the globe. They’ve recently released the “Planet or Plastic?” call to action that invites visitors to pledge to reduce their personal plastic usage, then encourages them to share their pledge online.

This is creative, inspiring, and effective social media storytelling.

5. Create Aspirational Video

BarkBox sells monthly subscription boxes for your four-legged babies and has over 200,000 monthly subscribers.

The brand has taken advantage of its very niche product by focusing on its dog-loving audience and creating content that directly resonates with these passionate customers through aspirational stories that inform, educate, and entertain.

This is because their employees are being true to themselves as well.

Their real-life dog stories and how-to videos go beyond regular everyday snippets to show their shared adoration for dogs.

Here are some takeaways from BarkBox when creating storytelling IG stories:

  • Make your audience feel part of a community, not a customer base.
  • Give your audience a voice to provide feedback.
  • Laughter is key: humour is linked to higher recall, which means a message diffused with humor will be easier for your audience to remember.

Show them you believe in something bigger than your service or product.

5 Ways to Leverage Storytelling in Instagram Stories

Final Takeaway: The Heart of the Story

Like all of our examples, brands must take a stand for the causes and issues that are most meaningful to them, and to their audience.

This soul-fire is what great storytelling is born of.

To maximize your story’s connection to your audience, make sure you have a cause, topic or character (heart) that your audience can relate to. According to research, one strong character will always connect with audiences more effectively than a statistic or group of people.

Whether you’re looking to rule the world, or to just take the next step in your brand journey, combining this core with a great story will surely help your brand stand out as a sanctuary of calm in a world of showy advertisements.


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