Amanda Peterson of Enlightened Digital, our guest author, is passionate about Instagram, for some very good reasons.

Since its launch in 2016, Instagram Stories has spread like wildfire. Just two years after its release to Instagram users, Stories, which allows Instagram users to share ephemeral photos and videos with their followers, has up to 400 million daily active users. Based on shifts in social media habits however, this shouldn’t be surprising. The more we use our mobile phones, the bigger the urge to share a glimpse of our daily lives through instantaneous images and videos. Stories fulfills this preference, allowing users to post unedited, imperfect, and “of the moment” style content.

Even Mark Zuckerberg implies that Stories will soon play a more integral role in social media marketing strategy stating, “We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps. That’s because Stories is a better format for sharing multiple quick video clips throughout your day.”

Today, many brands have already begun to experiment with posting Stories across their Instagram platform. Not all of them, however, see it as a vital part of their strategy, but rather a test to maintain engagement within their audience.

As the shift toward Stories-style content continues to grow and popularize among social media users, digital marketers need to be at the forefront of this trend. If you’ve yet to integrate Instagram Stories into your social media strategy, here are three reasons it’s time to start.

Increase brand exposure with Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories offers digital marketers a great opportunity to reach a higher number of people by taking advantage of one of the fastest-growing social networks. Not only can marketers utilize Stories to reach Instagram’s 250 million-and-growing population, but Instagram has also reported that Stories has encouraged users to stay on the platform longer and visit it more frequently. In fact, Instagram users under the age of 25 spend at least 32 minutes per day viewing Stories on the app.

Aside from Instagram’s massive reach potential, the frequency of which consumers expect to see Stories fuels top of mind awareness for your brand. As ThriveHive suggests, “Instagram Stories allows you to continue using (or start implementing) frequent posting as an engagement strategy—instead of only “wow” posting—to stay top of mind for your audience.” Implementing creative strategies like Instagram Story takeovers or sponsored advertisements enables brands to extend their reach and expose their brand to new audiences.

Maximize customer action

Research shows that on average, more than 1 in 3 daily active Instagram users said they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Stories. With over one million advertisers placing native ads in Stories, over 120 million users have since clicked and visited a website, called, emailed, or sent a direct message to get more information about a specific brand.

Features on the app created specifically for Stories have made it easier to increase sales, generate leads, and gain traffic. “Swipe up” links are particularly useful for promoting the sale of a particular product, or the launch of a new one, as they take the user directly to the relevant landing page. Stories has also recently implemented its “Shop Stickers,” which can attach product information directly to a Story post.

Stories can make user interactions more purposeful, directing traffic to specific product pages, blog posts, or even other brand accounts. Simple features available directly in the app are easy to implement, but can have a major impact on consumer conversion rates.

Improve brand loyalty

Stories is the ideal hub for authentic content, which is one of the best ways to establish a loyal following and customer base. Research has shown that 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. In particular, an overwhelming 90% of millennials say brand authenticity is a major factor in their buying decisions, proving that younger consumers prefer “real and organic” over “perfect and packaged.”

Stories are a great way to boost your brand’s personality. Try posting content like a Q&A session about your brand, a behind-the-scenes look at your headquarters or manufacturing center, or even a day in the life with your brand’s CEO. This style of content provides a humanized element to the operation that no other form of digital marketing can really nail, and allows your brand to make a genuine connection with your audience.

Instagram Stories provides marketers with a unique way to engage with their audience and there’s no better time than now to begin capitalizing on all they offer. Be sure to make some room for Stories in your digital marketing strategy— your brand is sure to be rewarded for it.

Looking for more tips on social media tools? Be sure to check out our social media starter kit

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