[This is part two of a three-part series on Instagram for business.]

Instagram Stories and Instagram Live are temporary yet creative ways to reach your Instagram audience. When used effectively, these features provide users with tools to more actively engage with followers.

Instagram Stories

For companies and brands, Instagram Stories are a quick, easy, and creative way to reach your audience. Stories can also be posted much more frequently without having to worry about overloading followers. Here are some tips for how to get the most out of Instagram Stories:

Consider A Series Format

Posting consistent updates about certain topics will make your viewers want to come back for more. For example, doing something as simple as posting a poll on the same day each week will make your followers pay attention to your stories because they’ll being expecting it.

Posting regular updates on a project or product is another great option for keeping followers engaged. By posting “sneak peeks” or vague updates, you can keep users engaged without giving away too much information at once. This way, they will keep checking you page for more information.

Utilize Story Highlights 

Instagram’s Highlights feature is cool because it allows you to permanently post stories to your profile under your bio. By utilizing Story Highlights, brands can create a “personality” by selecting photos or videos that best capture what they want followers to know about them.

For example, Anthropologie has multiple Story Highlights on their profile, all showing different aspects of their brand. One of their most popular items are their Chino pants, so they have a Story Highlight dedicated to the item.

Get Creative With Your Stories

The Instagram Stories feature provides numerous options to customize your photos or videos. Not only can companies post photos or videos taken in the moment, but users can also add media saved to their devices in the last 24 hours.

Users can add text or draw on posts, and Instagram also offers a wide variety of stickers, filters, and tags to enhance stories. The hashtags and location tags are particularly useful because they will show your story to any user who views the tag. However, it’s important not to overload stories with tags, filters, text, etc. to avoid distracting viewers from the actual content. When used well, these features do a great job of creating post engagement.

One example of a brand using the Stories feature creatively is Anthropologie’s Chino 101 Story. The company started the post by telling viewers how and when their product gain popularity, followed by multiple photos of a model wearing the pants. Each image includes a snippet of information that highlights qualities of the item.

Anthropologie is a good example of using Stories creatively because they provided viewers with relevant information in an interesting way. The company utilized artistic photos and text while also showing off one of their products.

Stories are the perfect way to experiment with new ideas, whether it’s content that brands might turn into a true post or a new way of engaging with the target audience.

Instagram Live

A newer feature, Instagram Live is a great tool for further engaging with followers by providing endless creative possibilities. When you begin streaming, Instagram notifies followers so they can tune in, and viewers can comment while you record. Everyone can see comments, when someone joins, and how many people are viewing the live stream. Check out our tips for using Instagram Live:

Promote Your Live Session Beforehand

In order to gain as many viewers as possible and maximize engagement, it’s important to promote your Instagram Live session. Select a date and time to go live and post about it! Creating interest and excitement about what you’ll be talking about makes it more likely that users will tune in.

Engage With Viewers

When utilizing the Instagram Live feature, remember that one of its main purposes is to create interaction between you and your followers. This may mean acknowledging comments from viewers or inviting them to participate. Some ideas for creating interaction through Instagram Live include creating a contest, hosting a Q&A session, or revealing a new product.

Providing viewers with information they can’t find anywhere else is an awesome way to get followers to come back for future live sessions. For example, if you tell them about a new product and then ask them to sign up for more information on your website, they will likely feel that they’re getting access to exclusive information and potential deals.

Instagram Stories and Instagram Live are the perfect features to help audiences feel more connected to a brand or company. Utilizing them effectively is a great way to increase brand loyalty.

In the final part of this series, we’ll look at how to promote your brand’s Instagram page.