Expert Shares Instagram Stories How to Tips for Small Business Marketing

Instagram Stories How To: Actionable Advice

Most of Generation Z spends over three hours viewing online video daily, with an emphasis on mobile devices. They also only watch one or two movies per quarter, according to a National Association of Broadcasters panel in April.

These lopsided numbers sound all too familiar when you listen to enough media industry panels. Mobile and interactive digital have the momentum, while difficult-to-measure buckets (print, cable TV, etc) continue to lose in reach and budgets. But small businesses seeking to use video to reach an ever expanding audience must look under the hood at mobile video’s social functions to better understand this.

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According to PricewaterhouseCoopers 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey (PDF), ad budgets are shifting to digital marketing but as the authors point out, “the trick is to present their brands and products naturally in the social media discourse.” Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty products were mentioneed in the PwC survey for the feedback gained from social bloggers, as was restaurant brand Sweetgreen for its pairing of food imagery with comments from customers and chefs. A separate study from Allianz this year says 86 percent of Americans trust social media posts from people they know personally, versus 55 percent when a brand posts, almost as bad as a coin toss.

Instagram Stories How To Tips

Small Business Trends connected with Nicholas Kirchner, a marketing agency owner who at 21 years old is near the cusp of Gen Z himself. Here’s our Q&A about Instagram and Facebook. For the most part, his answers align with what research is saying.

Instagram Stories How To: Actionable Advice

Nicholas Kirchner is founder and CEO of Pixsuls, a Milwaukee based digital marketing agency that helps ecommerce companies, influencers and consultants increase revenue through paid social advertising on Facebook, Instagram and through sales funnels. Areas of expertise include reduction of ad spend waste, custom audience strategy, lead generation and ecommerce funnels. Kirchner has been invited to speak about marketing at various conferences and universities such as the University of Southern California.

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Small Business Trends: How could Instagram be used as an audience research tool?

Nicholas Kirchner: Quick and easy polling on Instagram Stories is one of the most powerful methods for determining whether a product or service will resonate with an audience. I strongly recommend polling your audience several times per week; remember, people love to have and share opinions.

I frequently have clients post polls on their social to determine something as simple as what their audience wants to see from them, all the way to whether they would buy a new product or service if they launched it.

Polling allows you to get direct feedback within minutes that you can utilize to make good marketing decisions moving forward based on data, not theory.

Small Business Trends: Specifically on IG Stories, I sense a lot of brands oscillating between excitement and fearful inaction because they know IG Stories have so much potential. How can a brand stand out from competitors who are also using IG Stories?

Nicholas Kirchner: Remember to use polls, tag locations, etc. I find our clients get more engagement when we use these tools. Use a variety of photos and videos so it’s not always the same thing over and over.

If you meet up with other influencers, be sure to tag them in your Stories with their @name and ask for a story shoutout in exchange. This is an easy way to grow your following and partnerships are key to growing your Instagram quickly.

Use Stories to document your day to day life, because if you want to build your brand around who you are, people need to know what that really means. Gary Vaynerchuk always says “Document over create” meaning you don’t have to wait until you have something super cool to share; just show people what you’re already doing! It’s more genuine and relatable.

Small Business Trends: One great thing is that Instagram has intensified the optional bells and whistles we can use within an IG Story. Can we go through the popular ones?

Nicholas Kirchner: Let’s go through four.


  • Boomerang is a feature inside of IG Stories that allows you to record a few seconds of video, and then plays it in reverse and keeps looping. Kind of neat for short clips or experiences; it adds some variety to just otherwise short video clips.

Stop Motion

  • Stop motion allows you to take a sequence of photos and then plays them in a loop and makes for a cool setup if you’re traveling around a bit that day, or documenting an afternoon, for example.


  • As I mentioned, tagging other users and influencers in your Stories is a great way to not only build relationships with other influencers, but also drive traffic to links in another users bio. When you grow your account large enough, you’ll be the one getting approached for shoutouts.

Swipe Up

  • This is by far my favorite feature because it allows you to directly link to your website in your Instagram Story by simply having people “swipe up”. This is great for promoting your own products/services, affiliate offers, podcasts, or additional content. Remember to use swipe up sparingly however, as no one wants to see call-to-actions all day long with no content, value or entertainment.

Small Business Trends: What are your Thoughts on Instagram as an Ad Placement Versus Facebook?

Nicholas Kirchner: Instagram is another placement within Facebook’s Ad Manager platform. I find that Instagram can achieve similar ad metrics for most products. The big thing here is that we’ll always test these placements separately for clients so the algorithm can optimize for just that platform.

Another interesting thing is that ad content for videos is limited to 60 seconds on Instagram whereas Facebook’s maximum time limit is 45 minutes for paid ads.

I recommend testing both platforms simultaneously to see which works better for your audience. I see products that cater to the 18-30 market work very well on Instagram, because that’s where a lot of attention is for that demographic right now as they move away from Facebook.

The good news with Instagram Ads is you still have the ability to use the Facebook pixel on any landing pages for conversion tracking and user behavior, along with the ability to create custom audiences off of people who engaged with your Instagram account/ads.

You’ll also have the option to choose whether you’d like your ad to be displayed in Instagram feeds only, or if you’d like it to appear in Stories as well. Mind you the “swipe up” feature will be used for Story ads, and a simple call-to-action banner will appear as usual for ads in the feed.

Always test everything when it comes to running paid traffic online, and Instagram as an ad placement is no exception to the rule as we’ve seen great results with it.

Small Business Trends: Finally, IGTV. Predictions?

Nicholas Kirchner: There will also be advertising opportunities for longer form content on IGTV in the future, but Instagram has said they are focusing on growing their user base in the separate app before releasing any ads on the platform. As an advertiser this is definitely something to keep an eye on! I don’t think IGTV will replace TV, Netflix, etc. any time soon, but it is an interesting thing to watch and be involved in. It’s great that Instagram is allowing longer form content on its platform instead of only 60 second videos or stories.

Pictured: Nicholas Kirchner, Tom Bilyeu
Images: Nicholas Kirchner 3 Comments ▼

Alex Yong Alex Yong is a staff writer and host of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world. Alex was named a must-follow PR resource in Cision North America’s list of the top 50 Twitter influencers utilizing rich media tweets, alongside Guy Kawasaki and Lee Odden.

3 Reactions
  1. The instant stories are really effective for more than behind the scenes and the audience is getting more used to it everyday.

  2. You can try using it to see how it fares with your target market. This way, you can decide if stories really work for your business.

  3. I guess there is a magic to it but using other means of advertising is also essential.