At first glance, Instagram looks like a platform where users share their photos and images of things they love. In reality, however, it is a fast-growing social media platform with more than 1 billion active users every month.
With such a massive number of users interacting with content, brands use the platform to connect with their customers and prospects.
As a feature that started as an add-on tool, Instagram stories have gained popularity on the platform with 500 million active users every day.
Trying to expand your reach through Instagram stories feels like a chore. Once you hit a plateau, every other effort leaves you frustrated.
A quick fix would be giving up on all efforts to expand your reach and pay more attention to your small audience. Giving up is easy. But it’s not the smartest thing to do.
So let’s look at practical ways to optimize your Instagram stories and skyrocket your reach.
Post Consistently and Distribute Content Evenly
Expanding your reach requires you to improve the level of brand awareness in your audience. According to Pam Moore, your prospects need 5-7 interactions before they start recognizing you or your brand.
That may sound like a lot, but don’t fear. It doesn’t have to be any more work than you’re already doing when you start thinking of Instagram as a content distribution channel rather than “another platform to learn”.
Start redistributing content from other mediums and platforms your brand is already active on to your feed and stories. For example, if you started a blog for your business, you can easily redistribute that content to Instagram.
Posting stories consistently increases the number of brand interactions and helps you earn your audience’s trust and loyalty, much more so than a weekly or monthly blog post will do alone.
For example, you can repurpose content from a blog post into an Instagram feed post. Then take that feed post and turn it into a short video on stories, or you can simply share the feed post on your story to redirect them to engage on the post itself.
Let’s say you have a blog post like mine below on how to host a webinar and the different platforms to choose from:
Source: Adam Enfroy
I could literally take that blog post and create 15-20 Instagram feed posts about the different webinar hosting providers I talk about in my blog post.
From there, I could repurpose this content into stories… Either by sharing it directly to my stories or I could do a short video training (6-7 stories long) giving a few tips on recording webinars with a call-to-action to check out my blog post for more details.
The key is figuring out what your audience wants and what they benefit from. When you post consistently, you’ll know what types of stories appeal to your audience and focus on creating them.
Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes content based on relevance, timeliness, and user interaction. As you create your Instagram stories, make sure that they are relevant to your users.
Edit your story pictures before posting to maintain quality by using an excellent photo editing app. Your users will interact more with your stories, meaning that Instagram will make sure that they keep seeing other stories you share in the future.
Think that posting consistently will take up loads of time? Think again. I like to use a social media scheduler like SocialPilot to have my content post on autopilot.
Here are three Instagram story ideas to get you started:
- Share client testimonials:
Source: Hailey Lucas
Introduce yourself to your followers like Adventure For Less, a travel couple:
Source: Adventure For Less
Share what you do behind the scenes e.g., team activities:
Add Hashtags to Stories
Your Instagram posts include a short post or caption and a hashtag. Hashtags help in organizing and categorizing content to optimize it so that users discover it.
Using the right hashtags gives you more visibility by exposing your stories to people who don’t follow you.
For example, I posted a photo of dolphins on Instagram with the following hashtags: #dolphinswim, #dolphins🐬, #cozumelmexico, and #dolphinlove.
These hashtags will help Instagram categorize his photo. Users who are interested in dolphins, Cozumel, and Mexico will see it, even though they haven’t started following him on Instagram.
These users might even share this photo on their Instagram feed and add more hashtags hence increasing its reach.
Besides, the hashtags you use don’t just remain on the platform. If a user shares your story on Facebook, it appears together with your hashtags, hence giving you more exposure.
Instagram users rely on hashtags to find interesting content and topics. Brands, on the other hand, use hashtags to improve awareness and reach a bigger audience. And, it’s highly effective.
Just be sure to use hashtags wisely and avoid using the same ones for every post or story, otherwise, you risk getting shadowbanned.
Here’s how to identify relevant hashtags:
- Make a list of hashtags by looking at what your competitors and influencers in your niche are using
- Look at the hashtags your competitor’s followers are using when sharing content relevant to your niche
- Identify the most important ones based on how specific they are in relation to the stories you want to share. If, for example, a user searches for VPN services and uses #vpn, they’ll find thousands of posts and stories as opposed to searching a more specific hashtag like #bestvpnformac… See the difference?
Adding hashtags to your story might ruin its final look and make it less appealing. Here are the options you can use to hide them:
- Type your hashtags in your story and pinch them to reduce their size
- Write your hashtags in a colored text that matches your Instagram story background
- Use GIFs or image stickers to cover your hashtags
- Instagram Marketing for Beginners
- Social Media Marketing 101
- 22 Creative Instagram Post Ideas
- 9 Easy Tips to Make Killer Instagram Videos
Use Geotags/Location Tags
Location stickers allow people who don’t follow you to see your stories through the explore tab. Depending on where you are, use geographical tags in your Instagram stories to increase your exposure and reach a wider audience.
Here are four different ways you can use a location sticker to increase your reach:
- Use location stickers and hashtags when your team is on-site at events and conferences to attract more of your target market and event attendees to your company’s page. This also helps ensure attendees don’t miss your booth! Here’s how Monday.com, the software that helps you manage tasks, does it:
Tag your company headquarters and share a behind the scenes story like Housecall Pro has done: Source: Housecall Pro
This also helps to show off your company’s culture and build a stronger community amongst your followers.
- Create videos to build hype around events outside your headquarters, such as a new store opening or an exhibition, then share them as stories and tag that location:
Source: Housecall Pro
- If you sell physical products or are learning how to start a dropshipping business, but don’t have a store or company headquarters, deliver a product to a customer. Record their reactions and first impressions of your product, then share the video in your Instagram stories and tag their location to boost your reach. The stories you share from different locations evoke curiosity and users who watch them will follow you to see more of what you share.
Create Enticing Highlights Covers
Since your stories expire after 24 hours, highlights allow you to keep your stories on your profile even after they expire. They also allow you to get rid of clutter by organizing your stories’ content into different categories.
Besides, having a highlights section will help you avoid overwhelming your users with a ton of content in their feed.
In your highlights, use stories that have lots of engagement because they are more likely to appeal to other users who see your profile for the first time. They’ll also help you make a good first impression.
Other story ideas to include in your highlights are such as product information, customer testimonials, origin story, and content that solves your customers’ problems.
To make users click through your highlights and watch your stories, your highlights’ covers need to be enticing enough.
Here is what I mean:
Source: Adam Enfroy
An Instagram user seeing this account for the first time (and is interested in travel) will click through the highlight covers on this account because of the following reasons:
- They are familiar meaning that a user will recognize them instantly
- They tell a story to evoke an emotional response. Each image is related to a famous story about the country in the highlight
- They are visually stimulating due to the amount of detail they have, unique lighting, and color
Capturing these elements (and more) when creating your story highlights can be overwhelming. Use Venngage to create enticing highlights and make them stand out.
Repost User-Generated Content to Boost Reach
Want to boost ROI, expand your reach, and satisfy customers at the same time? Then avoid being too salesy on Instagram and instead, let your customers do your marketing for you through user-generated content.
Customers who are happy and satisfied with your products or services will most likely post a great review online.
Results from a survey by the Sitel group reveal that while 37% of customers will post negative reviews on social media, while 49% will share a positive review.
Source: Sitel Group
Pretty powerful stuff, right?
Not only that, but outside of social media, 77% of customers are happy to recommend a company to family and friends following a positive experience.
See how important it is to encourage customers to share their experiences?
Your customer reviews are part of user-generated content that you need to use in your customer feedback strategy to start building credibility and boosting your reach.
When a user posts content talking about your brand on any social media platform, they’ll tag you, their friends, and their family in their posts.
Source: Alfred Coffee Co
They might even write raving reviews and send them via scheduled email or post them on other review sites which you can then repost as a story:
Here are a few guidelines to help you make the most of user-generated content:
- Use a tool like Mention to see what your customers say about you or your business on social media and other online platforms
- Identify great reviews and request permission from the creator to repost it as a story on Instagram
- Once you post it, tag your customers, their location (if they are on Instagram), and add other relevant hashtags.
If you’ve tried increasing your Instagram reach without much success, then these tips should get you unstuck.
Even if you’re new to the Instagram game but have a decent-sized email list, you can try sending personalized emails to get your list to join you over on Instagram…
Just be sure your profile is primed for growth before you do so, though.
If you’re wondering what you need to start with, brainstorm three different story ideas, then create an Instagram posting schedule and stick by it.
Share your stories during different times of the day. Instagram users log into the platform during different times of the day, so your account will have a story for everyone who comes across it.
While this will get you up and running, you’ll need to do more. Create videos and share locations whenever you travel for events or vacations to expand your reach.
You’ll also need to create great highlight covers for your best stories to help you get hold of a user’s attention, so they click the “follow” button. Finally, look for user-generated content share it in your stories.
As you do this, remember to look at the results you get to identify where you need to improve. Over time, your frustrations with growing expanding your reach will start giving room to the joy of adding new followers every day.
Adam Enfroy writes about how to scale your blog like a startup to 150,000 monthly readers at www.adamenfroy.com. He launched his blog in 2019 and started generating over $35,000/month in revenue within 9 months. He wants to teach new bloggers how to do the same.