The Instagram Stories feature made its debut in 2016, with many IG users finding many similarities to another social media platform called Snapchat.

Fast forward to today and Instagram has seemingly taken Snapchat’s idea and run with it in a major way. IG stories have become more popular as users love the opportunity to take in bite-sized content snippets without scrolling through their normal timelines.

The Instagram Story started as a way for IG users to highlight their content, but it has quickly become a valuable tool for small businesses to reach clients. How do these little bits of information hold any value with customers?

Well, we know that humans are seeing a decrease in their attention spans. An Instagram Story can only last up to 15-seconds.

We also know that a platform designed for mobile devices is better received on mobile devices. Thus, the vertical presentation of IG stories makes them more visually palatable than standard posts.

The 24-hour lifespan offers an element of urgency for users to view your content. If you are known to offer valuable content through your IG stories, users will be quick to view it before it disappears.

Quite frankly, if your business is not using Instagram and its Stories feature, you are missing out. Here are four ways IG can benefit your small business.

Grow larger, faster with Instagram Stories

One of the tenets of a successful business is having an ability to develop, maintain, and grow a base of customers, clients, or in the case of IG – an audience. Instagram offers a convenient way to reach unimaginable numbers of new contacts and grow the knowledge of your business.

IG features a variety of tools that can help reach users who may not hear about your business via any other means.

Location Tagging – Add your location to posts and IG Stories. This will allow users to find your content as they browse posts for a certain area or region.

The Hashtag – The term hashtag has become a full-fledged verb (#whowouldathunkit). It is a powerful tool when used appropriately.

Adding hashtags to your IG Stories can boost your searchability exponentially. The hashtag serves as a virtual filing cabinet, allowing users to search for broad topics they may be interested in.

Variety is the spice of life

A major pro-tip for businesses new to Instagram is to make sure their IG profile page holds to a consistent theme. This can be similar posts, a color scheme, or a consistent content posting strategy.

That rule goes out of the window with IG Stories. Their lack of permanence allows you to be far more creative and freer with your content. You can free yourself from the need to stick with a theme and post whatever you want in your stories.

Users expect a more personal connection through Instagram Stories, so use the opportunity to ditch the stuffy brand loyalty and post a funny video!

Get users on the express train to your site

Instagram has added features specifically designed for small businesses and retailers. These features make it simple to drive traffic to your business.

Users are far more likely to be interested in products or brands that they have seen on IG stories than those who do not get featured in Stories.

Shopping Bags – Instagram created the product sticker for small businesses to highlight products or offerings on their IG Stories. Users can explore these notifications and are directed straight to your site for further information.

Swipe Up – There is no stronger call to action than the “Swipe Up” direction on IG Stories. This feature directs users to swipe up on a posted story, which directs them to your website or other destination of your choosing. Procuring website traffic has never been this simple!

People want engagement, and they want it NOW

Instagram algorithms are driven primarily by engagement factors. Do people look at your posts? Do they interact with them? How quickly do they find you? These are all factors IG considers important when they decide whose content is valuable.

IG Stories are the interstate highway to engagement. Once again, IG offers features designed to help your small business!

Polling – You can set up polls on Instagram Stories for your followers and other users to answer. This feature can drive engagement and offer you valuable market research.

Ask Me Anything – While this seems like a loaded feature, this allows true engagement with other users. The feature works both ways: You can ask a question and garner free form answers, or your audience can ask you free form questions.

Tagging – The ability to tag other users on Instagram offers a unique opportunity to engage with other businesses or users that might be interested in your IG story. Every tag is another chance to engage with users who might not know anything about your business.

Instagram Stories hold immense value

By now, you should see the value offered by the IG Stories feature. If your small business could use a fresh audience, work Instagram Stories into your social media presence.