An often overlooked aspect of social media is its relationship to customer insights and feedback. So many times, brands look at social media as a bullhorn announcing activities instead of focusing on cultivating community. Luckily, there are features that enable two-way communication between customers and brand.
Currently, one of the hottest communications channels is Instagram Stories. As more and more social media users are gravitating towards Stories — which is content that disappears after 24 hours — there is robust first-party data. Here are three ways to use Instagram Stories to build relationships with customers and glean more into their insights.
Encourage direct messaging
Direct messaging on Instagram is becoming increasingly commonplace—some see it as the new email for Gen-Z. The best part with Instagram Stories is that each story has an option to reply either through emoji or direct message. For example, if a post that includes a new product gets a lot of fire emojis or hearts, you know that it’s a hit from your audience.
Direct messaging is great for small businesses to gather feedback from their community to further authentic relationships. Small business owner, Sorena Adams of SlickFace Beauty shares, “As a stylist, I'm a big believer in customizing and identifying with each client. Instagram helps me do so. Any time I create content on my Instagram Story, my clients get to learn like a pro. When a client sends a direct message for makeup or lash styling, the most important part is now I get to see what looks they love. Once I find their ideal look and have locked in that trust, I can better serve them.”
“Direct messaging is such an important feature for larger brands as long as they have a strategy for it,” said Nick Cicero, VP of Strategy at Conviva whose clients include the NCAA, Billboard, MTV, Cirque du Soleil and more. He provides reasoning on why it’s not only important for learning insights, but why having direct messaging and replies on allows for the algorithm to work in your favor.
“Direct messaging isn’t just a great way to engage viewers and gather feedback, it’s a strategic way to increase your reach on Instagram Stories as well. In an Instagram Stories study, we found that accounts that have replies turned on in their stories command a higher reach rate than those who don’t.”
Direct messages are first-hand relationships with customers and should be nurtured and valued.
Create quizzes and polls
Quizzes and polls have always been an essential factor for strategists to figure out how to best serve their audience. Tools like SurveyMonkey are fantastic for large businesses, but for those wanting to gather quick insights at no cost, Instagram Story polls and quizzes are a great option. Since you already have an audience that watches your content regularly, you know that they have a strong brand affinity towards your product succeeding.
Sarah Moret, Founder of Curie Deodorant, uses Instagram Stories to tap into her millennial target demographic as she builds out her consumer brand, “We use story polls weekly because we've found it's the best way to engage with our audience. It feels more intimate than other mediums, and the way Instagram is designed, it actually feels fun to participate in polls. We ask all kinds of questions, from silly ones (dad bod or a chiseled bod?) to ones designed to illicit product-related feedback (what types of scent do you prefer, floral or musky?).
The poll feature also provides lots of quick feedback for decision making.
Joahn Ginsberg, Founder of post-partum fashion line Ella Garland Clothing, has used the poll feature to help with her with product design, “When I first started and gained a number of new followers, I used the Instagram poll feature to narrow down various details of the dresses. It helped me hone in on what my target audience liked. It also had the added benefit of making them feel a part of the finished product and building brand loyalty quicker.”
For large companies, the tactics are the same; however, to pull large amounts of data, you need to invest in third-party tools. Cicero explains his process of working with brand partners on this. “Another smart way to gather feedback is to look at the actual Stories data and see what content is over or underperforming. Find out what the average performance of your stories are in terms of average reach, completion rate, impressions, exits, and compare your recent stories to those benchmarks. You can quickly see if your audience responds to certain types of content when you engage in some form of content benchmarking.”
On Instagram Stories, influencers and tastemakers are using the questions feature to engage their audiences, and this can translate into business as well. The great thing about this feature is that it allows for many ways to gather customer feedback:
Bringing in an influencer for a takeover and using their community for more product discoverability.
Having a product manager or executive ask the community if they have any questions they can answer or ways to improve the product.
Creating open-ended questions that allow for more answers comparative to a poll.
You can even save them afterward in your Highlights section so that there is a long-lasting reach. And, you can always keep a story on your phone and share the video within your company so they will have access to it for later use.
It’s a win-win
As you can see, there are many ways to utilize Instagram Stories to focus on the customer. No matter if you’re a small business, startup, or large company, the ability to connect with community and learn is invaluable to a product. With any customer feedback, you’ll need to make sure there are multiple data points before making any product changes. However, by using Instagram Stories to gather customer feedback to help improve products for scalability and for building a better community, it’s a low-cost and low-friction way to do so.