How To Use Storytelling For Instagram Sales
Once upon a time, when Instagram began its way online, it was nothing to do with sales. There was a fun test to check which social network was right for you:
At first, Instagram was more like a personal photo album or online storefront to publish product photos. But as its technical capabilities and entrepreneurial imagination evolved, businesses began using Instagram as a powerful marketing platform for customer engagement and more sales.
And now, well into the 2020s, one of the top trends in social media marketing is how to sell through Instagram storytelling. Let’s dive into the storytelling details and find out how to get the most out of it for your business in 2023.
Instagram Instruments for Storytelling
Today, Instagram offers tons of instruments to tell stories:
You can do that in photos, captions, or videos. It’s also great to tell stories via carousel posts, where you can either use visual storytelling or write text you didn’t mention in captions.
Here are some technical details for all Instagram users and social media marketers to know to tell a story:
You’ll need to limit it to 2,200 characters in captions, 1,000 characters in comments, and 15 seconds in videos (Stories). Instagram Reels are also available to create longer stories, but the initial settings are still enough.
Brands most actively use storytelling in Instagram posts: The text of 2,200 characters looks solid and enough to tell everything you want. Plus, you can introduce it as a short story or a summary to meet a character limit or divide a story into several posts.
Another means of storytelling is via Instagram Stories. It’s ephemeral content that disappears from your account after 24 hours, and it works even better than traditional posts because it addresses a user’s FOMO (fear of missing out). Stories are perfect for short-term sales, discounts, contests, and other limited-time events. If you don’t want them to disappear, save them to Highlights.
Now that you know all the core instruments Instagram gives for storytelling, let’s see how to implement this technique to boost sales.
How to Use Storytelling on Instagram
As with any other marketing technique, you need a clear picture of what, why, and to whom you want to tell your story. As with any business, you need to understand the target audience inside out and know and where your potential customers “live.”
How to choose engaging topics for Instagram storytelling?
The ideas are “in the air,” as they say, and all you need is to not to miss them. What are your brand mission and values? Do your clients and would-be clients have any pain points? What are the most frequently asked questions among your customers?
Write them down, and you’ll have a content plan ready!
Top 10 Ideas for Storytelling on Instagram
- A story about your product: Don’t simply show your new lipstick, for example, but share a video testimonial from a girl who dreamed of having sensual lips and how your product helped her.
- A story about your service: Not only can your hair salon deal with gray or weak hair but add a touching, human story. E.g. a lady who spent time in the hospital and felt a new burst of life with the help of your professionals.
- News: What happens “behind the curtains” of your business? Any challenges your employees overcome to deliver a new product to customers? Share stories with your audience. Be authentic and transparent.
- Discounts, sales, contests: They all work to tell in Instagram Stories. Be sure to share the pictures of the winners – happy customers who were lucky to get discounts, etc.
- The story of your company: Avoid those boring chronological notes we often see on websites. Ask founders to share their memories and feelings about what motivated them to start a business other than money. It will be a great story to save in Instagram Highlights.
- FAQ: For example, use pictures to visualize a story on how a customer can return a product. Tell them how your delivery works.
- Your team: Ask employees to shoot a short video story of how and why they joined your company. Or, you can frame such stories as interviews or short captions in a storytelling format.
- “Behind-the-scenes:” It’s great to tell about how you prepared for a conference, professional contest, TV interview, special party, etc. Followers will love such content as it demonstrates the real people behind your brand.
- Helpful tips: Use stories to share how-tos and other educational content with your audience. They’ll appreciate the format. The human brain processes 70% of information via stories. That’s why storytelling is the only way for consumers to remember the information you share. Emotional response matters here.
- UGC: Feel free to delegate content creation to your followers. Ask them to share stories about their most romantic Valentine’s Day or the best story about New Year’s resolutions or any other holiday. Share their stories, tag them, and boost visibility and engagement.
All you have to do is put what you want to say into a coherent text and decide on the format. The most popular storytelling techniques are Hero’s Journey, False Start, Frame, Sparklines, and In Media Res.
The Hero’s Journey is a good one to start with
The hero of the story faces a problem, starts a journey to solve it, overcomes challenges, and finally wins. This technique is easy to represent via Instagram.
Anyone can be the hero of your story: you, your employees, clients, partners, clients’ friends, clients’ partners, etc. Any problem relevant to your brand and customers’ needs can work. Even if it seems a bit far-fetched, a brief and engaging presentation will help you keep the reader’s attention till the end.
It stands to reason that every story needs a narrative arc: exposition, climax, and resolution.
- Exposition: the intro of your story, with the background info about characters and setting.
- Rising action: something that grabs interest and motivates to keep watching (reading); the moment when conflict appears.
- Climax: the main event, the rise of tension when the character faces the truth and makes a decision.
- Falling action: emotions, feedback, comments; the moment of conflict resolution and the results of the character’s decision.
- Resolution: the conclusion, the moral of your story, or the point you wanted to share with your audience.
The Narrative Arc
The format of Instagram Stories (15 seconds) is enough to introduce the whole narrative arc. If your story is long, segment it into several videos or captions.
For the above elements to work, consider the instruments for audience engagement and interaction:
- Communication: ask questions, ask for opinions, and ask for feedback.
- Recognizable design: help users distinguish your story from the information flow.
- Dynamics: alternate between live streams, videos, photos, charts, and texts.
- Emotion: for your story to resonate, it needs to evoke emotions from people who see it.
All these elements allow you to boost visibility, build loyalty, and increase sales via Instagram.
Once you’ve written a story, re-read it and answer this question:
Would you tell it to anyone else if you were not the author but its reader? Often, viral marketing (when people spread and share the information themselves) yields even better results than the most well-thought-out content strategy.
How to Make Your Story Sell on Instagram
It stands to reason that storytelling alone won’t influence your sales. The bare fact you write marketing content in the form of stories can’t bring customers to you right here and now. Direct calls to action to buy something won’t work either:
Online users have got banner blindness already: They tend to ignore page elements or words they perceive to be ads and aggressive sales.
For storytelling to influence your Instagram sales, consider writing and sharing three types of stories with your followers: engaging, entertaining, and selling.
Engaging stories allow you to grab the audience’s interest and encourage them to follow your Instagram page and visit it again.
Entertaining stories keep the audience’s interest and are a kind of guarantee that followers won’t unsubscribe from you when you don’t have any promos, sales, or monetary perks for them.
Finally, here come selling stories.
Any promos should be natural and implicit so that the reader would come to think of the benefits of purchasing from you on their own. At least, the reader or viewer needs to get interested in the product or service used by the hero of your story and want to know more about it.
Many brands use such an approach to storytelling on Instagram and other channels. Thus, Nike tells about people facing and overcoming challenges, Apple shares stories of people defying common standards, and Airbnb writes about travels around the world.
It’s critical to hook the audience from the very beginning
Remember: the competition is high, and many brands struggle for users’ (read: potential customers) attention.
Your three instruments to do that:
- High-quality custom visuals: Visual learners, people process pictures 60,000 faster than text. It’s the first thing they’ll notice in feeds, and your task is to encourage them to click.
- Catchy headlines: They should attract by meaning, font, and overall design. Alternatively, you can write a headline directly in the image.
- Fascinating introductions: It’s necessary to capture attention and immerse the reader in the story from the first paragraph; otherwise, they won’t continue reading the second one.
Ready to Try Storytelling for Instagram Sales?
The tips from this post are suitable for different niches. Whether you’re a brand selling cosmetics or WordPress plugins, or you’re a psychologist or a nutritionist on Instagram, consider engaging the audience and promoting your products/services via storytelling.
This writing technique allows online users to see the authenticity and transparency of your brand, get to know you, and become loyal to what you have for them. In the consumerism world, a true story can become a weapon that helps you stand out.
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