Did you know that half of the most-viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses, not individual users? Close to 1.7 billion accounts use Instagram Stories every day, and 500 million users use them daily. And Instagram Stories are growing 15 times faster than posts in regular feeds.
There’s a good reason, particularly for businesses, to make Stories a key part of your social media marketing strategy. Instagram Stories allow you to build your following, engage your audience, drive traffic to your site, and, most importantly showcase social proof. Plus, it’s really fun to create Instagram Stories and watch your followers interact with them!
Looking for ideas on how to get going with Instagram Stories, or make yours more exciting? Here are 10 Instagram Story Ideas ideas that have been proven to work for travel and hospitality brands, and how they can help turn followers into customers.
1 | Use The Swipe Up Feature
Integrate swipe-up calls to action (CTAs) within your Stories to provide more information, link to a related blog post on your website, or allow people to buy tickets directly from the Story. Note that this feature is only available to businesses that have a following of 10,000 people or more.
If you are eligible, though, you can track how many website visitors came from Instagram, see how many new social followers you got, and note any jumps in newsletter and/or email list subscribers. Also calculate the total value of tickets, travel experiences, items purchased, or rooms booked as a direct result of your Stories content.
This example comes from Destination BC, who has added a swipe up CTA that links viewers to a blog post on where they can go to see cherry blossoms. The beautiful pink visuals in the Stories catch the attention of Destination BC’s followers’, and inspire them to visit the website to learn more about how they can have this experience for themselves.
2 | Put Your Link in Your Bio
If you don’t have 10,000 or more followers (yet!), you can always use your Instagram Story to promote a link in your bio. Use platforms like Linktree, like the tour operator Collette does, to drive people to your most recent campaign.
3 | Use Interactive Elements
Make your Stories interactive by adding questions and poll stickers that followers can participate in. Use the results to create interesting stories, and while they’re visiting, capture their emails to add to mailing lists (with permission) for further communication.
4 | Create Compilation Videos
Videos get 12 times more shares on social media sites than just text and photos. So why not use them? Collect user-generated content (UGC) visuals and stitch them together to make a video. It perfectly suits the Instagram Stories format since you can make each one a frame or create a longer video. Build them around a specific theme, like Spa Day or Ziplining Adventures so it flows well.
Add a CTA swipe-up on the last frame that directs to a booking site or information page about that adventure, or to a link in your bio where they can get more details.
Sunwing made a compilation video that walks viewers through all the elements of a perfect vacation, with each Instagram Story segment showing a different one. They then finish the story with a swipe up CTA that links out to their ultimate vacation planner.
5 | Create Story Highlights
What’s great about Instagram Stories is that you can share tons of in-the-moment visuals. What’s not so great is that they disappear after 24 hours. So collect past Stories and save them to your profile homepage as Highlights. You can sort them by topics of interest and/or followers to get more out of them.
Find the most popular images or videos from a past Story and display them on your profile page with promotional links or swipe-up CTAs. Offer people a sneak peek of a new trip or activity, customer testimonials or even repost photos of some of your guests enjoying their stay. This will help sustain engagement and enhance customer loyalty. People love seeing themselves be featured on Instagram!
Hotel X has created Highlights that showcase topics like dining, wellness, and romance that would be of interest to a variety of prospective guests. Additionally, their Highlight covers are designed to match their branding and the themes that they feature.
6 | Show Specific Events or Occasions
If you have an awesome special event coming up, like a Halloween costume party, New Year’s Eve ball, an exhibit opening, or a flash sale, use those details to your advantage. Post photos, information, videos, and more to capture followers’ attention at least a week before and continue to post during and after.
Start with ticket discounts and deals through links, bio links, and swipe-up CTAs about a week prior, then use the Stories countdown sticker a few days ahead of the event. Go live once it starts, checking your DMs and reposting tagged posts. After the event, post a round-up Highlight on your profile page, linking it to a photo gallery, PR blast, or blog post summary on your website.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis used Instagram Stories to promote their holiday exhibit, Jolly Days, throughout the holiday season. This year, they filled these stories with polls, questions, and countdowns, to see great engagement success.
7 | Do a Take-Over
For 24 hours, let a visitor or influencer take over your Story, posting from a trip or event. They will probably re-post the content to their own Story as well, giving you more exposure to their followers, too.
You can gain new followers and more profile views and ask the take-over person to link to a CTA. Go a step further and add a discount using the influencer’s code for those who book on the website (this lets you track conversions, too) or to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter or blog using the form fill Story sticker.
Cabot Links invited the Barstool Sports guys to do a takeover on their Instagram Stories. They played the course at Twilight and posted photos and videos of the beautiful course as they made their way through it. They then turned the series of videos into a Highlight reel to live on the Cabot Links Instagram profile.
8 | Feature Photo or Video Content Submissions
Find photos and videos from followers and feature them daily, and/or include them as a reel at the end of a contest. Create a Highlight on your profile to save them all. Don’t forget to tag the user every time you share one!
Combine this with a blog post or photo gallery on your website that features contest submissions and direct Instagram Story viewers to this post so they can browse winners. Note where each photo was taken and include enticing details to make it even more attractive. Keep in mind that if the user doesn’t tag your Instagram account or use your brand’s hashtag, you’ll need to get their permission to use the visual.
G Adventures gives their guests a chance to be featured on their Instagram Stories. In fact, guest content makes up a large portion of their Stories! It’s the perfect way to showcase what it’s really like to be on a variety of G Adventures’ tours without needing their staff to be on the road filming footage and taking photos.
9 | Engage and Interact With Your Community
Use the editor to make your Instagram Stories fun by adding GIF stickers, countdowns, filters, and other cool items.
The key here is to use the results from a poll or question to create a contest and give away prizes like discounts or special coupons. Ask people what they would rather do at a destination, for example, then create a video that highlights the best way to spend a day at your destination based on the results. Grab email addresses along the way to add to your mailing list, and link to a place on your website where the responses will be posted so those who contributed can check them out.
10 | Share an IGTV Video to Your Story
If you don't have 10,000 followers, there is a way to get links in your Stories. You'll just need to have posted at least one video on IGTV. You won't be able to post a URL, but you can link directly to your video so viewers can watch.
Simply open the IGTV video you'd like to share with your story, tap the airplane icon, and "add a video to your story." You'll have the option of adding text, stickers or filters.
How to Use UGC in Your Instagram Stories
You can get super creative with Instagram Stories, adding different elements and imagery, such as UGC that is authentic, trustworthy, and exciting. UGC is unedited and personal, and perfectly fits the in-the-moment look and feel of Stories. Did you know that ads that use UGC have four-times higher click-through rates?
To use UGC, browse hashtags, business accounts, pages, and more to discover great ones, or use software that simplifies this process through quick and easy search functions. Get the rights from the owner, edit and put them together in relevant groups, then build your social posts.
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