In a nutshell, Instagram Stories are less perfect versions of your regular posts or a behind-the-scenes peek at something bigger and better and not  likely to be featured on your official feed. That’s not to say that Instagram Stories are a lesser version of Instagram posts, just in terms of content, it’s not as ‘perfect’. In fact, that’s the whole point, it gives you as a brand an opportunity to show your flawed human side.

Demonstrating to your audience that you aren’t just a faceless business, that there are real people behind your brand is priceless in terms of audience loyalty. It gives your company an authenticity you can’t buy in an ad campaign.

There are many ways to get the most out of an Instagram Stories post, here are our top five hacks to ensure you maximize this marketing opportunity.

Hack #1 – Use Stickers

While these may seem tacky in an Instagram post, this is what Stories are all about. Make it fun and show your audience you’re not always about perfectly designed everything, sometimes you decide to slap a smiley face emoji on a happy photo and enjoy the moment. There are new stickers added frequently so check back for more timely or seasonal ones to add.

There are also stickers for locations, hashtags, and polls, so if you don’t want to be too slap-happy, use practical stickers and tell your audience where you are with a location sticker, or get really practical and use a hashtag sticker. These types of stickers are searchable, just like location tags and hashtags usually are.

Poll stickers are fantastic for boosting engagement on your posts. You can simply ask a yes/no question or customize the answers. This is a good measure to test out if your audience is engaging with your content or not.

Hack #2 – Create Shareable Stories

A great hack for increasing views of your Stories is to allow users to share them via direct message with their friends. To do this, go to Story Settings in your profile (and tap the gear icon) and toggle Allow Sharing. This increases your Story views and also might help increase your number of followers if they like the Story enough.

Hack #3 – Use Camera Roll Footage

Many people make the mistake of thinking Stories are always ‘live’ and they have to film them within the Instagram app. Nope. You can upload content from your camera roll by tapping on the little square icon on the bottom left of the Stories camera screen. This way you can ensure you have the content ready for viewing, and not just something you shot quickly on the go in the app.

Hack #4 – Real People

Ideas for Stories content are things like sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes snippets or staff takeovers. Including real people who are often hidden behind the brand is a way to make your business more authentic and relatable. You can also be less serious and more fun when using Stories, for example, nutrition guru Amanda Meixner has over 1.1 million followers and keeps her official posts informative and serious, while her Stories, for the most part, feature her dancing around dry brushing her skin or making a green smoothie and her audience love this side of her. She is able to give people the information they are looking for, but by getting a little bit silly, she makes herself relatable to many people, which is what makes them stick around and engage with her content.

Hack #5 – Tag Users

This feature makes Instagram Stories stand out from other social media outlets like Snapchat because you can actually tag other users in your Stories post. This is a convenient way to give other brands a shout out. The Story gets sent automatically to anyone tagged, so if there is someone you wanted to capture the attention of, tag them in a Story.

These five pro tips should help you maximize the use of Instagram Stories for your business. A handy little feature Instagram offers is that if you open your Story and swipe up on the screen, you’ll be able to see how many people have viewed your Story as well as the names of every person who has seen the photos or videos in your Story.