Use Instagram stories to grow an captivated audience for your business

Understanding, and then conveying your point of difference, is a powerful tool when it comes to marketing your business. But as a small business, how can you compete with the big guys and their big budgets? It’s actually quite easy 

Be you. 

It’s something no other business has, and believe it or not, as a small business you are your biggest selling point. In fact, it’s often the difference between someone choosing you and someone else.  

Have a think about why you buy from the people and businesses you do? I know for me it is certainly true – in that I am drawn to those who are not afraid to stand out and show me who they are. If what they ‘say and do’ resonates with me, I’m definitely more likely to buy from them. 

And the one place I tend to find ‘my people’ is on Instagram. I love watching Instagram stories – you can learn so much about a business from them – and this is where I like to build a connection with others. 

Instagram’s vast array of video options  

I’ll admit, Instagram is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment (aren’t we all?) as it tries to compete with TikTok with its newish reels feature. And just to confuse us even further, they also have many other forms of videos – Live, IGTV, short videos for the feed, 24 hour stories and reels – which the Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said they will be looking to refine over the next 12 months. 

But essentially, Instagram no longer wants to be seen as just the ‘square photo sharing app’ – so videos in some form or another, will be here to stay. And for that I am thankful, as it allows for so many opportunities to connect with our audience in depth. 

So anyway, on the topic of Instagram videos, the ‘story’ option is a great place for small businesses to start to engage with followers, because it is designed to disappear after twenty-four hours (or there is an option to save it to stay on your main bio page. It’s perfect for those who may be a little apprehensive about trying the video format, as not a lot of people will see them and as you improve (which you will!) there is no permanent record of where you started. 

There’s also the added feature of a caption option, which is reasonably accurate, and allows captions to be automatically added so that people can watch without having to have the sound up. Just find the caption ‘sticker’ and add it to your video, and your words will be transcribed within seconds. 

One of my favourite Instagram accounts 

I was so happy the day I found Lisa Reiner from Curvature Clothing on Instagram stories. She started her size inclusive clothing brand in Adelaide after spending years working in Alice Springs and struggling to find clothes that either fit her or represented her. Lisa is a tiny business in the scale of fashion brands, with everything made to order and she employs local people to help sew her designs. 

I ended up following her initially because I had started following a bunch of other similar kinds of designers in New Zealand and Australia (all making colourful skirts, dresses and tops), but she totally hooked me in through her Instagram stories. Lisa has a knack for creating interesting content, all based around the ‘design and making’ journey of her clothes – with a lot of stories filmed in her workroom. 

I often share her as an example to our clients and I also recently interviewed her for the MAP IT Marketing podcast

What is so captivating about Lisa and her workroom stories, is that you actually feel like you are there in the room with her. And it’s actually a win-win, because Lisa explained to me that the reason she does it is because she often feels quite isolated in the day-to-day running of her business. So she finds chatting on stories as a way to feel more connected, even though Lisa says she finds it funny that people like to listen to her talk and watch her work!   

While I had already been converted to a faithful follower, I remember becoming a super fan when Lisa shared her reluctance to use the word ‘plaid’ to describe a new fabric pattern. Instead, she opted for a follower’s suggestion of RADELAIDE, and I was sold. 

What followed next was an extremely entertaining series of stories that covered some of the weird and bizarre crimes that have occured in Adelaide over the years – one of which was the theft of a very expensive Big Bird costume. It absolutely captivated me. I remember making my family listen as I read them out loud, and I even did my own Google research to find out more. I also ensured I didn’t miss any of her stories, which meant I had to constantly check her profile as they only lasted a day, then they were gone! 

The magic of YOU

And this, my friends, is the magic of being yourself, totally and completely. Lisa opened herself up to me (and her other followers), by sharing her own interests and fascinations, and by golly it worked so well. Lisa wasn’t trying to sell us her clothing, she was just showing us what she was passionately interested in, and it made me passionately invested in hearing more. 

And this was actually something Lisa did on purpose, saying that she was sick of watching stories and just being sold to all the time. She wanted to break up that monotony from businesses, and show people what actually goes on behind the scenes. 

By tapping into one of the most successful ‘secret’ ingredients of marketing, Lisa was able to grow her audience without actually trying to pull a sale out of her followers. 

Give, instead of trying to take

And this is one of the things I stress to my clients – to not jump on social media when they are feeling stressed about sales. Because you’re likely to come across as desperate, and asking for the sale all the time doesn’t make people come back for more. Instead, set your intention to ‘giving’. 

The reason Lisa’s business stands out is because she is sharing her personality and interests that allow her to be different in a crowd of other businesses. But what is also of note is that there’s nothing ultra personal in Lisa’s posts. Besides knowing she has a daughter (who pops up from time to time), there is no sharing of daily drama or intimate life details. It’s just about her little ‘quirks’ (that usually relate to the business), and by doing that, Lisa has been able to build a very engaged audience who are ready to buy from her the minute a new range is released. 

How good is that?

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