Over the past 3 years, I have had a love hate relationship with Instagram. Three years ago, I was truly loving it. I had built my following and was seeing some real engagement. Two years ago, I began seeing some huge returns from that following. Fast forward to about six months ago, when I was completely ready to give up on Instagram. I wasn’t loving the new algorithms and wasn’t seeing much ROI from the time I was spending on it. I couldn’t see my friends’ pictures and was tired of the perfectly curated feeds. However, over the last couple of months, since Instagram has added and updated Instagram stories, I am finding my love for it again.

Here’s a little background on Instagram stories.

A while back, Instagram was acquired by Facebook. Shortly thereafter, Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat as well. When Snapchat turned them down, Facebook did what they do best, and created their own version of Snapchat: Instagram Stories.

At the time, I had been using Snapchat and was really loving it. That platform really connects with millennials who value authenticity and transparency above a perfectly crafted, “fake” Instagram feed. However, Snapchat lacked user friendliness and a simple way to find and add followers.

So, I decided to try Instagram stories, since I had built a significant following there. As I began adding to my story daily, I started seeing over a thousand impressions on each post throughout the day. This had been a significant increase from what I had seen prior, due to the new algorithm that was negatively affecting still images on my normal feed. Because I was seeing so much engagement, I decided to go all in with Instagram Stories and have been impressed and encouraged by their latest round of updates.

Instagram Story Updates

  • Recently Instagram has enabled you to mention other profiles in your story, similar to the way you tag people in a still shot in your feed. This is going to be key for female entrepreneurs looking for brand partnerships, building a following and reaching out to influencers. It is also a way to encourage your followers to support and get to know your clients and collaborators.
  • I have also learned that Instagram recently began allowing you to place links in your story. While I don’t have this capability yet, I am guessing it is something they will roll out slowly in the coming months. This is ideal for creating leads through free early stage offers, or linking to your paid programs and goods. You can check to see if this is available to you by looking for the link at the bottom of your story pics and videos. In the meantime, I have seen huge growth in my email list, as I have simply shared about my early stage offers in my Story and encouraged followers to grab those offers through the link in my profile.
  • Instagram has recently added the Boomerang feature, which makes your story just a bit more fun. I will admit, it’s not nearly as fun as Snapchat filters, but Cole loves to play with it, and it can add a small element of silliness to your story.
  • Suggested People to Follow is also a great way to begin interacting with influencers and building relationships with potential clients and collaborators.

I fully believe that all female entrepreneurs need to begin working this platform into their social media strategy. This is an even more necessary tool for you if millennials are a part of your target market. This feature gives millennials a sneak peak into your life, allowing you to connect with them in a transparent way. I have had countless people tell me they found me through my Instagram feed, but got to know me through my Instagram Stories. This helps followers see that you are real, and then decide whether they like you. It also means you may lose a few followers along the way. I did! That’s totally okay, I ended up gaining more followers in the long run. Once you start using Instagram Stories, some people may find that you just aren’t their cup of tea, but using stories effectively will help you find your tribe and build your following with those who are truly qualified leads.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • I have kept my account  a personal account, not a business account. While the business account does give you some great insights, I began to see my engagement drop once I switched to business. My theory here is that once you change your account over to business, Instagram is going to make you pay to play. I have experimented with both and have found far better results using my personal account.
  • You don’t have to lead an amazing lifestyle to use Instagram Stories. Remember, Instagram Stories is all about being real, raw and honest. You don’t need everything to be perfectly curated. You don’t need to be doing something interesting to begin sharing your day on Instagram Stories. People want to see the normalness of your life, so show them what you actually do every day. You can always add in some new project teasers, helpful tips and brands you love, to ensure you are adding value to your followers’ lives and giving them a glimpse into what you have to offer.  You do not need to be a celebrity to use Instagram Stories well!

As of right now, I truly believe that this is going to be one of the most powerful platforms for female entrepreneurs to begin building and engaging an audience of qualified leads. Plus, it's just kind of fun to use!  As with everything Facebook related, things are subject to rapid change. However, it is worth spending some time on.

If you aren’t yet following me, I’d love to have you. My stories aren’t glamorous. They are surprisingly normal, filled with helpful tips for wellness professionals and female entrepreneurs, and completely real and honest. If that’s your thing, you can find me at @AmandaTress. I truly look forward to interacting with you there!