Instagram for business owners

How to use Instagram stories for your small business

by Michaela fong

Instagram for business owners

How to use Instagram stories for your small business

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If you’re still struggling to figure out what to share on Instagram stories for your small business and how to get more followers to engage with your stories, then you’re not alone.

I recently put a sticker out on Instagram stories asking how the Small Biz Babes Community feels about their own Instagram stories. Turns out, most small business owners aren’t sure what to post on stories, how to get people to engage with their stories, and how stories can help them attract more customers online.

So today, I’m answering four common questions about Instagram stories directly from the Small Biz Babes Community and how you can use stories to build trust and boost sales in your small business.

I’m also sharing examples of how to “break the ice” with your audience and what to post so they feel more comfortable engaging with your stories. 

Without further adieu, let’s get to the first question.

Q: Can you gain more followers from Instagram stories? If so, how?  

When it comes to Instagram stories, the majority of people who watch your stories are the ones who already follow you. Think about how someone discovers you on Instagram.

First, they scroll the feed, consuming content like any other day.

Let’s say one of your reel shows up on their feed and they find it really interesting. What do they do next? They click on it, check out your profile, and scroll through some of your other posts — usually your top nine most recent posts.  

If they found the content on your profile to be interesting, that’s when may hit follow. 

Once they follow you, they’ll start to see even more of your posts on their feed. And if they’re really intrigued and enjoying your content, that’s when they might finally tap into your stories to get to know you better. 

To answer this question, no, Instagram stories aren’t for gaining more followers. Stories are for building relationship with followers you already have. Because sales on social media come through trust and relationships. People are much more likely to trust you online (and become a customer) if they feel like they know the real human behind the account — that’s you! 

So overall, Instagram stories are meant to help you build a trust with your current followers by humanizing your brand.

Q: What should I post on Instagram stories for my small business?

The fun thing about Instagram stories is that they aren’t as restrictive as feed posts. 

All the posts you share on your feed, whether they’re reels, photos, or carousels, have to stick within your niche and content pillars. This is so Instagram’s algorithm can easily categorize your content and people searching for content like yours can easily find it.

But on stories, you can post about anything! Even if it doesn’t relate to your niche or small business. The point of Instagram stories is to give your audience something a little more personal. Something they can relate to and remember you by. 

What does that look like? I’ve got two examples for you! 

2 personal post ideas for Instagram stories:

01 – Snippets from your day

You can share parts of your morning routine or what you do throughout the day that gives your audience an idea of the person you are, your values, and the lifestyle you like to live. 

For example, you’ve probably seen on my Instagram stories a quote from the morning journal I write in every day. Or pictures of me making my morning smoothie. These personal details show my audience that I care about my health and mindfulness rituals.

Think about the real moments from your everyday life. What can you show to your audience that tells them who you are and what you care about?

02 – Footage of where you live and where you’re from

I don’t mean you need to share every room of your house. That’s meant to stay private! What I mean is sharing about the overall vibe of your hometown.

For example, do you go for walks or order coffee in your local area? You can share the path you explore with some of the scenery or your go-to drink order. Since I live in Canada, I often share beautiful lake scenery with mountains in the background when I go for a walk with my morning coffee. Creating these points of connection outside of your business gives your audience a reason to remember you, compared to if you were only posting your products. 

Now, I know sharing personal content may feel weird. Especially if you’re new to posting on social media or if you feel uncomfortable sharing details about your life. 

But think about the stories you watch from some of your favourite Instagram accounts! I bet the stories you remember are the stories about their personal lives, whether they’re moving to a new city, renovating their kitchen, or painting in their free time.  

Thanks to their personal stories, you feel more connected to them, and they stay in the forefront of your mind.

Q: How personal should I be on Instagram stories? 

Let’s be honest, posting personal things on social media can feel awkward! I remember when I first started posting more personal content on my Instagram stories, it felt so unnatural. I kept thinking no one would care about my coffee order or who I am as a person. I also had no idea  how personal was too personal. 
Over the years, I’ve learned that ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. For me, my golden rule is to share things on stories that I wouldn’t mind sharing with a nice lady in a coffee shop.

Even though you do want to be personal on stories, let’s not forget that you’re still the face behind your business. Which means you probably don’t want to post on stories what you’d only share with a best friend or partner. Make sense?

My golden rule is to use Instagram stories strategically to show the real moments from business and sprinkle some personal content and opinions in between. Let me give you examples of what I mean by using Instagram stories strategically for business.

7 things you should be posting on Instagram stories from a business perspective: 

01 – Behind the scenes of real moments in business — Show us what you’re working on! That can mean progress on projects of yours or items on your to-do list for the day. 

02 – Sneak peeks of upcoming launches — It’s so important to share behind the scenes of an upcoming launch with your audience because first of all, you want to prime them. You want them familiar with what you’re launching so they can be excited to purchase by the time it launches. 

Also, it’s an easy, non-salesy way to promote your upcoming launch by taking your audience along for the journey. Sharing about your launch on stories makes your audience feel involved and naturally more curious about your new product or offer. And that brings me to my next point:

03 – Make your audience part of the launch process — Invite your audience to make decisions about the launch with Instagram story polls, where you ask them questions about the direction of your launch! I recently did this by asking which photo the Small Biz Babes Community preferred on my website. The feedback I got blew my mind! Getting your audience involved is a great way for them to feel excited about your upcoming launch. 

04 – Countdowns and reminders for your launches — This one is easy to do and an absolute must. It’s especially important if you are selling something in limited quantities or for a limited time. People need to be reminded over and over and over again so they don’t miss out. Oh, and here’s an Instagram story hack: use the countdown sticker so people can turn on the notification for when your launch goes live! 

05 – Reviews and testimonials If your audience sees other happy customers have already shopped with you, it boosts the trust factor of your brand. 

06 – Common questions your audience asks (or should be asking) about your product — You can host a Q&A session specific to your launch and even ask questions yourself that your audience should know to share on stories. This way, you can strategically communicate the most important info about your upcoming launch. 

07 – Links you want your followers to visit — This doesn’t have to be links to only your website. It could also be to your blog, newsletter opt-ins, or freebies so you can direct them to your other platforms and ideally grow your email list.

Q: How do you get people to engage with your stories? 

I know it can feels weird to post stickers on stories that no one engages with. It kind of feels like you’re talking to yourself. And let me tell you, it’s very normal and just requires a little practice and experimentation. Keep posting and track what resonates with your audience, specifically.

And if you get stuck, here are a few steps you can take to make it easier for your audience to engage with you: 

5 things you can do to increase engagement on Instagram stories 

01 – Ask easy questions that are fun to answer —  Questions like, “How was your weekend?” or “What’s your morning drink of choice — coffee or tea?”, don’t require a lot of thinking. They aren’t related to selling either. Questions like these help you get to know your audience, kind of like breaking the ice with someone you meet for the first time. 

02 – Engage with your followers first It will take time for your audience to feel comfortable engaging with you. How do you conquer the crickets? Be the first one to engage! Start by sharing relatable moments of your day with a slider sticker. 

For example, you could share a picture with a quote from a book you’re reading and a reading slider emoji. Then if you see someone’s liked or interacted with it, send them a DM.  A simple message that says “I’m so glad you liked this quote, thank you for being here, and wish you a lovely week!” will help them remember you and feel comfortable engaging with you again in the future. 

03 – Share more personal content — We already touched on how important it is to share more personal content. It’s truly key because it’s so much easier to engage with personal content compared to reshared posts on stories from your feed. 

04 – Use engagement stickers and poll questions — Whether they’re related to your business or personal content, use them as much as you can! You can also make them fun to engage with, like creating your own “this or that” quiz. 

05 – BONUS TIP: Check story insights and pay attention to which stories your audience engaged with the most  — You can even keep track with a little notebook, like I do, to write down what worked and didn’t work to help you create more engaging stories moving forward.

Remember, you are not going to see people start engaging with you by doing one hack or another. It’s a compound effect that leads to results when you keep showing up consistently even when no one is watching (just yet).

Key takeaways: 

01 – Instagram stories aren’t for growing your audience or only resharing feed posts — They’re for humanizing your brand and building relationships and trust with your audience. Strong relationships and trust help you convert sales on social media. 

02 – Want more people to engage with your stories? Make it easier for them to engage!  — That means taking the initiative to engage with your audience first.

03 – Don’t forget to make your audience part of future launches — Constantly take them behind the scenes to share progress, sneak peeks, and even get them to vote on small decisions for an upcoming launch. This helps your audience feel already invested in your product even before you launch it! 

If you have no idea where to start with Instagram stories or how to use them to build trust and boost sales, tune in and learn more in today’s podcast episode here 🎧.   

Talk to you soon, 


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DISCLAIMER: Some of the links you'll find in my blogs are affiliate links. If you happen to love something as much as I do and decide to give it a shot through one of these links, I might earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me keep creating my podcasts and blogs that I hope you enjoy and find valuable. I promise to only recommend products and services that I've personally tried and absolutely LOVE.

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