Big or small, local business or franchise, Instagram has been a place to share brand stories for years — if you’re not using Instagram yet, you may be late to the party. In 2016, however, they launched the ever-popular Instagram Stories — a feature mimicking Snapchat that allows users to enhance their IG presence in a more organic way.

As our Instagram feeds get more and more curated, filled with posed pictures and stylized inspirational quote images, IG Stories has become a place where you can share authentically, engage in smart storytelling and connect with your followers in a real way.

The many benefits of Instagram Stories

Social media has allowed businesses the opportunity to show their friends and followers a sneak peek into the inner workings of the brand, and Instagram Stories have taken the ability to be transparent to a whole new level. Why is this important?

The internet has allowed brands to develop personalities, value systems and actual relationships with their customers and their audiences. Today, consumers care more about a brand’s values, practices and culture than they do about price. A study conducted by Label Insight suggests that almost 94% of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to full transparency.

Your audience wants to see behind-the-scenes content from your studio, real talk from your instructors and what kinds of things are happening in class — so show them. These kinds of Stories, when shared, will create a true and lasting connection with your customers and soon-to-be customers alike.

While engaging authentically may be the goal for many on Instagram, Stories offers some extra benefits for businesses. The first benefit, of course, is staying top-of-mind.

Use Instagram Stories to get discovered

The sheer amount of content being shared on social media today boggles the mind. As of June 2016, 95 million posts are made on Instagram every day. Can you imagine what that number looks like today? With so many posts going live in a 24-hour period, it can be anywhere from tough all the way to impossible to get your posts seen by your target audience. That’s where Stories become truly beneficial. 

When an individual or a business shares an Instagram Story, a colorful ring encircles their profile picture and it gets bumped to the front of the line in a follower’s account. So every time you post a Story, you increase your chances of getting your content seen.

Having your own followers see your content is more important than you think: recent algorithm changes mean that it’s becoming more and more difficult to show up in your followers’ feeds. But what about getting seen by people new to your brand as well? Well, Instagram Stories are also discoverable! This means that people who don’t follow you will be able to see your Stories too.

How to craft a smart Story

You know by now that Instagram Stories are an important part of an Instagram strategy and your business should be creating them. But what to post? Here are some content ideas to connect studio fitness with their audience and soon-to-be raving fans:

  1. Start your Story by sharing a behind-the-scenes moment. It could be something as simple as someone cleaning equipment (everyone loves a clean facility!) or staff talking about an upcoming event they’re excited about. These small but mighty moments show the human side of your brand.
  2. Share real-life class moments. You may think that showing your customers stretching on the barre or doing a really intense cardio exercise is boring, but your potential customers will relish the opportunity to see what class at your studio is truly like before they even walk in the door. Not only will they “see the motions”, but they’ll also be able to get a grasp on the community dynamics and internal culture by watching. 
  3. Show off your customers. Whether it’s a quick selfie or a video shot of an impressive move, you should always take a moment to acknowledge your customers. Praising your customers’ hard work online not only shows viewers that you value your community, but it also gives those customers a sense of accomplishment that they’ll likely want to share with their followers as well.
  4. Create teachable moments. You 100% have industry knowledge that you can share, so do it! Make a quick video about proper form, about nutrition, about goal setting — whatever you know your audience needs to hear. This is an ideal way to position yourself as an expert and build trust with those soon-to-be customers.
  5. Answer questions. One of the best ways to utilize IG Stories is to make it a two-way conversation. The Question Sticker allows you to ask your audience questions and get their feedback or give them the opportunity to ask you questions…. Which gives you even more content to share!

These five story ideas are quick and easy posts that you can do at your studio in only a few minutes a day. Always remember to ask permission whenever you include photos or videos of your clients.

Tips for staying consistent

Even though Stories aren’t hard to do, sometimes life happens. According to social media expert Neil Patel, “If you make a habit of posting several times a day and then transition to only a few times a week, you will start to lose followers and generate less engagement per post.”

When it comes to regular posts, you can use a scheduling app to set up your content and have them post automatically so you never miss a beat; try software like Later. With Stories, however, it’s not something you can just put on autopilot. So how will you stay consistent when your business is pulling you in multiple directions?

Best practices for Instagram Stories

Start by making it a team effort. When you make your schedule, assign one day of the week to an instructor. Give them clear guidelines on the kind of posts you’d like to see, and then let them get to it.

Small team or managing the marketing on your own? No problem. Take a bunch of videos one day a week when you’re in the studio and save them all to your phone. Start each day by posting one video to your company Instagram Story. Don’t forget to add stickers to make them more fun.

You can also make some great images or infographics perfectly sized for IG Stories via Canva. Simply pick a template, add your brand colors, then drag and drop your images for customized Story content in just a few minutes.

Ready to build your brand by using Instagram Stories? In only a few minutes each week you and your team can connect with your customers in an authentic way and build the profile and trust in your studio.

This post was written by fitDEGREE, the community-driven studio management software empowering owners not to just manage their studios, but to grow them. You can learn more about how fitDEGREE can help you grow your fitness business at fitDEGREE.com.

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