3 Brands Using Instagram Stories Well (And What You Can Learn from Them)

With more than 200 million daily users, it’s likely your brand has at least tinkered with Instagram Stories by now. Indeed, with that size of an audience, more and more marketers are sitting up and taking notes on the disappearing content feature.

In Instagram’s words, “…you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.”

And while more influencers and users may be leaning on Instagram Stories to distribute content to their followers, not all Stories are created equal. Some brands are truly killing it with creative, funny, or unexpected content. Their Stories certainly rise above the noise on Instagram, and their consistent efforts are rewarded with views and engagement as a result.

Which brands have become major players in the space? Here are a few of our favorites. Read on to learn what you can take from their success and implement in your own strategy. And if you need a little help creating killer content for your brand, check out our guide to using Instagram Stories.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear. Plus we’ll show you how you can use Hootsuite to grow your own following on Instagram and other platforms.

General Electric—great visual storytelling

Who knew images of airplanes and turbines could garner such a large following? While you may not expect a 120-year-old company to be at the cutting edge of social media—they are. General Electric has become a master at using everything Instagram Stories has to offer.

As one of the earliest adopters of the feature, GE’s Stories content initially mirrored much of the content on its Snapchat channel. For example, one of their first Stories touted a Snapchat series on volcanoes they’d recently published.

Image: NUVIThe Instagram Story encourages viewers to check out the original post on Snapchat, but also followed up with behind-the-scenes footage revealing how they created these breathtaking images.

Since those early days, GE’s strategy has slightly shifted. Now, the company uses visual storytelling to draw in viewers and engage its almost-300,000 followers.

How to make this work for your brand

No matter your brand does or sells, storytelling is key. As research and multiple experiments have shown, telling tales can help brands sell more products. Stories drums up personal interest in your brand and products. And when customers feel like they know the story or person behind a brand, your product can have a higher perceived worth.

With that in mind, examine each piece of content through a storytelling lens. Make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end; that it communicates a coherent message; and, of course, that it makes sense for your brand.

Create quality content that tells a compelling story and viewers are more likely to engage and keep coming back for more.

NASA—adds context while promoting other content and channels

Image: NewsWhipThese Instagram Stories might leave you—ahem—starstruck. While I may be biased due to my fascination with the night sky, no one can really question NASA’s prowess when it comes to Instagram Stories.

Yes, they post some of the gorgeous images of stars and supernovas that you might expect. But the brilliance of NASA’s Story strategy is in how they use the feature to go deeper—offering background, additional info or research, and more visuals that complement their regular Instagram posts. So not only are their posts informative for fledging astronomy nerds, but all the fresh content incentivizes followers to check out both NASA’s Instagram feed and Stories.

One example is an Instagram Story NASA published to drive more followers to their @NASAPeople Twitter channel (and perhaps to recruit some new astronauts—pick me!):

Image: The Social Shakeup Show

How to make this work for your brand

While NASA may have some seriously great content fall into their laps (thanks, Space Program), any social marketer can take advantage of their learnings.

The biggest insight here is that Instagram Stories shouldn’t only be regurgitated content from Snapchat or your Instagram feed. Each post should add value and context. Create complementary content between your regular Instagram feed and your Stories content—have them build on one another. This keeps all of your posts fresh and rewards users who take the time to check out both.

GoPro—the perfect mix of original and user-generated content

GoPro makes absolutely killer adventure videos that regularly top the viral video charts. Obviously the camera brand is well positioned to share incredible footage from both its in-house team and community of users.

GoPro has become synonymous with adventure, as customers don these body cameras and capture beautiful scenery and outings around the world. And that sense of adventure has obviously translated well to Instagram Stories. If you take a peek at GoPro’s Stories content, you’ll see a stunning mix of brand-owned visuals and user-generated content.

How to make this work for your brand

There are two takeaways here. First, don’t shy away from using professional photography to represent your brand. GoPro’s images and videos are high-quality and eye-catching. It’s almost impossible not to be drawn in.

Second, don’t forget about the opportunity to use curated content on your social media channels. If, like GoPro, you have customers or clients creating amazing content that’s relevant to the rest of your audience, then consider reposting it (with permission, of course).

And now that you’ve got a solid idea of what works for some of the top companies using Instagram Stories, you can use it as inspiration and apply the tactics and content types to your own efforts. Happy posting.

Social media moves fast and keeping up with the rate of change—new platforms and shifting best practices—can be tough. Learn the fundamental social media marketing skills you need to stay ahead of the pack with free training from Hootsuite Academy.


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