It’s always a fun part of the job to try out new tools to get your message across, and video seems to be taking over the content world. While it’s not brand new, Instagram Stories are becoming the new “news feed,” and brands are using the slideshow of videos and photos to give their customers a taste of the people and personalities behind their products.

Instagram carries a pressure other social media platforms don’t – photos must be perfectly polished and as attractive as possible to get the attention of followers. Instagram Stories are intended to be more relaxed and personal. Think of it as a peek into someone’s less-than-perfect life, because as much as we love stylized food and sunsets, reality also sells.

Stories create a richer account of a brand than what a series of individual photos or videos can provide. And, Stories allow you post as much as you want without affecting your main news feed.

New to Instagram Stories?

Stories are located at the top bar of the Instagram app and displayed as your friends’ profile photos. You can create your own story by tapping on the plus sign, and view other stories by tapping on a friend’s profile photo.

You can import a slideshow of photos or videos from your camera roll and add to your story throughout the day. Each new addition will expire 24 hours after it was posted. Stories are limited to your followers, and no one can publicly like or comment on your story. HubSpot has a great step-by-step guide.

The same social media best practices apply to Instagram Stories: post often, deliver great content and pay attention to your audience.

How can I use them?

Give your followers a behind-the-scenes experience
Add some authenticity to your content by taking your followers behind-the-scenes of a special event or launch of a new product or service. People who view your Stories are probably big fans, so treat them to an interview with a key player or celebrity.

Collaborate with other brands or influencers to swap Instagram accounts for a certain period of time. You also can pitch the idea to a media outlet to reach a much more significant audience.

Show “a day in the life”
Look to an employee or influencer to tell a story that showcases your product or service in an engaging way. Think of it as a grown-up, digital version of take-your-kid-to-work day.

Host a Q&A or contest
Urge people to interact with your brand by inviting them to ask questions and offer responses in real-time. Or, layout the rules of a contest and use the “swipe up” option to link to an entry page.

Take the plunge

Every new tool takes time to develop a list of best practices, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Instagram Stories can be a great addition to your social media mix to show your personality, broaden your audience and drive more traffic to your website.