So often we hear that we need to be consistent on social media, and I’ll be honest, for a long time I thought that meant that I needed to post every single day to my Instagram feed. But actually, I’ve come to realize that social media consistency is less about posting every day and more about engaging with your community every day.
Sometimes that means chatting with people in your DM ‘s, sometimes it means responding to comments, and sometimes it means seeking out other profiles to comment and start conversations with. But one of the easiest ways to start building engagement with your audience is simply to show up in your Instagram stories.
With all the features Instagram has at our disposal, from polls, to questionnaires, to even allowing our audience to simply react to a story, there are endless possibilities when it comes to connecting your audience through stories and using this area of the app to boost your reach.
I also know that showing up in Instagram stories can seem a bit intimidating at first, which is why I put together a 30 day Instagram story challenge to help take the stress out of what to post and to encourage you to start showing up regularly within your stories.
But why do I think Instagram stories are such a great place to start building connection with your audience? Well, ultimately, it’s way less formal or permanent than your actual feed, so you get to show up differently and just be yourself. This can be a game changer in how your audience finds you, interacts with you, and remembers you.
Build personal connection
In my last podcast episode where I interviewed Jess from Jess, XO copywriting, we were talking about how to build a connection with your audience through copy, but during our conversation she touched on something very important. She talked about how her audience knew her and connected with her through things like her dog named Joey Tribbiani or her love for iced coffee. Other business owners, like Jenna Kutcher for instance, share these kinds of tidbits all the time. Jenna credits some of her early business success on becoming known for her love of mac & cheese. On her podcast she shared how she thinks it was so important for people to identify with her in that way, and that even when they were in the mac & cheese aisle of the grocery store they were thinking of her.
This is so important because it proves that your audience will connect and identify with you on things outside of your actual business and services.
When you think about how you connect with friends, chances are it’s random little things about your life and your personality that bring you together. Your audience wants to see the real person behind the business. Using your Instagram stories as a way to talk about different things in your life outside of your services is going to attract your audience in a whole new way.
Especially when we think about how saturated most markets are today on social media. If you want your audience to choose you over someone else in your industry, chances are they’re going to choose you because they really identify with you as a person. Showing your personalities, your hobbies, your family, or anything that’s important to you, is going to attract an audience that cares about the same things.
Share your process and behind the scenes
Sharing your process or how you work can be one of the best ways to really utilize your Instagram stories without having to think of new content. Talking about what you’re doing that day, or showing what you’re working on in that very moment, it’s both interesting and enlightening to a lot of your audience.
I actually find that when I show more behind the scenes content I get a bigger response from my audience, usually in the form of DM‘s. And that’s just what Instagram wants to see. They want to see people engaging with your content and when they notice different accounts DMing you, especially if you’re responding to those DM ‘s, they will definitely reward you.
I also think this is a great way to show that you’re an expert in your industry because you’re showing your audience exactly what you work on each day and how much time, effort, and thought you put into your client projects. The goal with any business is to not only attract inquiries but to attract inquiries that truly value what you do, so when someone sees how you work and it resonates with them, more often than not they’re going to value your expertise.
Talk about your business in new ways
Most Instagram story challenges are going to encourage you to talk about your business in ways that you typically don’t share on your feed, maybe through before and afters, talking about your brand values, or sharing ways that your business has changed or grown through the years.
These are all great ways to connect with your audience while still providing information that encourages people to get in contact with you and work with you. You don’t have to be salesy, and in fact during a story challenge that’s going on for about a month I honestly don’t think that you should be salesy throughout that entire month. People aren’t going to tune into your stories every day if they just feel like you were trying to sell them on your services.
Instead, when you talk about your business during a story challenge you should give insight into the thought behind your business, what matters to you, what kind of businesses you like to work with, what inspires you, and maybe ideas or projects that have changed your perspective on running a business.
Again, we’re more interested in building connections with our audience and getting them to engage, because once they feel that bond with you they are WAY more likely to work with you in the future.
Share what you know
During an Instagram story challenge you can also use some of the prompts to show off a bit. People love to learn things that they don’t know, and they also love to see process as well as a finished product.
So often in our feeds we only show the finished product and we somehow expect people to know how hard we work and train in order to create beautiful things.
Since Instagram stories are a bit more relaxed, you can show tips and tricks that you’ve learned, or show your favorite hacks when using certain software, and not only will that start a conversation with other people in your industry that can build a community around you and send work your way, but again it will show your value and expertise to potential clients within your audience.
Also showing your unique set of skills is going to set you apart from other people in your industry. A lot of people can’t tell the difference between photographer to photographer, or designer to designer, but if you show them what you know how to do and what you can specifically offer them, That’s going to be way more influential in their decision to work with you than any sales pitch could ever be.
Share what you are working on
Similar to sharing your process, your audience loves to see what you’re working on at that very moment, even if it’s still very much a work in progress.
One of my favorite ways to utilize Instagram stories is to get your audience to vote on different concepts that you’re working on. Not only does that get your audience majorly involved in what you’re doing, it can show a broader scope of work than just the finished portfolio piece.
You can also show multiple projects at once, or multiple mockups and stylings for each project, to show just how versatile your work is and show how busy you actually are. Both are great selling points for your audience and I have no doubt that you will have people commenting or reacting to your work to help boost your engagement.
At the end of the day, engagement is the name of the game when it comes to Instagram, and if you’re not utilizing Instagram stories as a way to boost your engagement and connect with your audience, you absolutely need to start!
If you’re intimidated to start showing up in your Instagram stories, I promise that the more you do it the more comfortable you will get and the less pressure you will put on each story to be perfect.
Using an Instagram story challenge like the one in my resource library is a great place to start if you’re not sure what to talk about or you want to make sure that you show up consistently over a long period of time. My Instagram story challenge is a 30 day challenge for business owners and bloggers. You can grab your copy by signing up to our resource library at the bottom of the page. And tag me if you use the story challenge so that I can re-share your stories with my audience as well!