Today’s post is a bit different…

Instead of doing my usual, I’m going to look at a new tool we authors (and anyone) can use for marketing. It’s an expansion of one of the current marketing tools: Instagram.

Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms, one used by more than 400 million people! With 60% of users logging onto Instagram daily, it’s a platform that guarantees a wide reach. Instagram–like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms–can be used to promote just about anything: products, services, events, and the list goes on. If you know how to use it correctly, it can be one of the most effective tools in your arsenal.

Now, Instagram has launched a new product that may make it an even more valuable tool. That’s right, we’re talking about Instagram Stories!

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram “Stories” is a feature that allows Instagram users the ability to share updates–as many as you want. Instagram will stitch multiple photos and videos into a single slideshow. That “Story” is available for exactly 24 hours after sharing them.

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Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat

If Instagram Stories sounds so familiar, it’s because it’s pretty much exactly what Snapchat offers! It’s the same “disappearing content” model, one that promotes greater sharing among users.

The reason it’s so familiar is due to Snapchat’s success. Unlike the eternally available content on Instagram, Snapchat’s content disappears after a short amount of time once opened. This makes it easier for users to share all manner of content, secure in the knowledge that it will be erased from their history.

So why is Instagram Stories the better option? Well, if you look at Snapchat, you’ll find that it’s fairly limited. It can only access other Snapchat accounts, and it has no access to outside social media websites. You can’t post content from your Snapchat to your Facebook or Twitter, or vice versa.

But with Instagram, all of the platforms are integrated. Content from Instagram can be seamlessly posted to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media sites, and content from social media can be shared to Instagram easily. For people who share content across multiple media platforms, Instagram is the smarter of the two options. The fact that it’s as easy as clicking one button to share everything is one of the major perks of Instagram–and now Instagram Stories.

Another benefit of Instagram Stories is the fact that the app itself has been around for longer. While Snapchat has only become popular in the last couple of years, Instagram has been going strong since 2010. The year after being purchased by Facebook in 2012, it grew by a staggering 23%!

For those who use social media as a marketing/publicity tool, it’s very likely that your Instagram following is significantly larger than your Snapchat following. Most people are accustomed to regular interaction with their followers on Instagram, and their followers tend to be in all age ranges. Snapchat, on the other hand, is one of those apps used primarily by teenagers and young adults, so the audience reached is much younger.

Combine the wider audience range with the comfortable, familiar platform and greater interaction between social media platforms, and you can understand why Instagram is the better option. While Snapchat will remain a trendy app among the youth, the truth is that Instagram may have just taken over the Snapchat “sweet spot” by adding the Stories feature.

How You Can Use Instagram Stories

For years, you’ve been leveraging your social media accounts to promote events or book launches, so how can this latest Instagram update work in your favor?

The answer is simple: FOMO.

FOMO means “fear of missing out”, and it’s a fear that social media has only helped to increase! More and more, people are jumping on new bandwagons (apps, services, products) even if they don’t need them, simply because they see so many other people using them. They participate out of fear that they are missing out on something awesome. After all, if so many other people are doing it, it has to be great, right?

All of the content posted to Instagram Stories is ephemeral, and it will fade away after just 24 hours. Once the content is posted, people have a limited time to view it, else miss out altogether. This means they are far more likely to follow your content more closely just to be 100% certain they consume it before it disappears.

Let’s put feet to this concept:

You have an event (for example, my Lament of the Fallen Book Launch Party) coming up, but you want to add an element of “exclusivity” to it. All you have to do is post to your Facebook, Twitter, etc. a message saying, “Watch out for a Story with all the information you need to join the event”. If ONLY those who view your Story are able to attend, it will be a way to create that exclusive feel to your event. Plus, it will help to drive more people to your social media accounts, leading to growth in your audience and better engagement.

Another excellent use of Instagram Stories is to share content of your event AS IT’S HAPPENING. Seeing as the content will only be available for 24 hours after it’s uploaded, people who want to avoid “fear of missing out” will stay glued to your Instagram feed to find out what’s going on. When they see just how much fun your event was, they’ll be much more engaged the next time you host an event.

The more people want to stay abreast of your disappearing content, the more they will access Instagram. This leads to better engagement with your audience, and greater visibility for your content. Even if there are no Stories to see, the followers will be on Instagram and thus have a better chance of seeing the content you are posting.

 

And yes, I WILL be posting a Story on the 18th, with exclusive content available ONLY to those who see it for the 24 hours it will be live. Definitely not something you want to miss out on…