Over 500 million users look at Instagram Stories every day. To help you visualize the scale here, that’s more than all the people living in Canada, the US, and Mexico combined—and that’s just one feature. With so many viewers concentrated on one specific section of a platform, it’s understandable why brands have taken such a liking to market on Instagram Stories.
Not only does it remove the scroll-through effort that regular posts demand, but it also gives businesses the room to get more creative. From filters to stickers to GIFs, there are plenty of built-in engagement drivers—one of the most popular of these being the Story poll. Launched in late 2017, this simple feature has chalked up millions of engagements just by letting people vote on a question.
While Instagram’s Stories has been around for a while, the network is finding more ways for its users to creatively branch out on it. The Story feature has also grown leaps and bounds as a brand marketing space since its launch and is becoming increasingly interactive with the addition of features like conversation stickers.
From influencers to large businesses, a substantial number of Instagrammers are now using the Story polls feature, not only to interact with their audience but also to bring them in on decision-making and use this crowd-sourced information for future brand activities.
Before we can explore how to use Story polls in your marketing, we’ll quickly walk you through the steps involved in setting one up.
How to set up an Instagram Story poll
1. Open Instagram and click on the camera button to launch a new Story.
2. Once the camera is activated, click the square icon with a smiley face to activate the sticker option. From here, choose the “Poll” feature.
3. Now customize your question and answer options as you desire. You can use this space creatively, to get the answers that you really want.
Pro tip: Make your polls fun and participatory—avoid boring “yes/no” questions as much as possible!
4. Share your Story poll and wait for audience answers to come rolling in. They’ll be able to vote within the 24-hour window that Stories appear for. You can also check progress at the bottom left corner of the story poll.
5. After the polling window is shut, you can extract the full metrics directly from Instagram. To do this, click on your Story poll and click on the audience in the bottom left corner to see who your voters were. You can click on the bar graph icon next to it, to view the specific metrics and breakdown.
Note – Your polls, like any other Instagram Story, will disappear within 24 hours, so set a reminder to check the progress throughout the day.b
6. Sharing poll results is a great way to engage your audience, especially since they took time to vote on it. To do this, simply click on the ‘Share Results‘ button near the Views tab, and the results can be published as a new Story.
How to use Instagram Story Polls
One of the core reasons for Instagram’s wide usage is the simplicity of the platform. The ease of use and flexibility allows everyone to customize their content as they see fit, and this has come to bear interesting results over time. We’re going to share some ideas on how you can use Story polls as a brand to improve engagement, clicks and brand lead generation.
a. Conversation starter – A poll can be a great way to get talking to your audience. Do away with yes/no questions and get cracking with ice-breakers, quizzes, and polls that can lead the way to further conversation with a prospective customer via Direct Message.
b. Get help with decision making – Has your designer come up with two equally excellent ideas for your new design? Need help deciding? Throw it on your Instagram Story, add a poll sticker, and let your audience in on your decision-making process. This kind of activity helps build more engagement for your brand and gives your audience a sense of significance that their views are being heard.
You can crowd-source ideas this way—you can get opinions for things like venues, refreshments, and color-schemes for events, provide options for freebies or giveaways, curate opinions for the kind of content they want to see next or find out what time everyone would prefer to tune in to your Live stream. You can even find out how your leads would like to be contacted—like by mail or SMS.
For instance, Instagram influencer Sue B Zimmerman regularly uses the Story poll feature to communicate with her audience. One of the things she does is ask her audience which topic they’d like to see an in-depth video lesson on.
c. Brand campaigns and contests – If you’re running a campaign, you’re probably building some hype around it on social media. You’re going through the motions of building hype, keeping your followers on their toes, throwing interesting hints, and keeping the conversation running until the campaign day.
This format works across campaign types – sales, product releases, feature upgrades and more. You can integrate Polls into any of these steps to help get engagement going.
You can alternatively use polls to run contests like product giveaways, as well. By posting a contest question, and rewarding the right answers, you can use this format to have positive engagement with your target audience and build brand recall.
d. Get ratings without the dreaded 1-stars – If you want to compare two of your products or services, and find out which one is liked more, throw them in a poll! If you see your audience overwhelmingly supporting one option – not only can it reveal what’s working for you, but also give you some insight into what’s not. You can further extend the conversation by asking for more feedback based on the responses you receive.
e. Gamify your content – Gamifying content has become a theme across mediums. But it doesn’t have to stop with entertainment, even brand marketing can borrow some notes from it. Try setting up Stories where voters who get the correct answer can access benefits, like discount codes, and see your engagement and follower count shoot through the roof. Just don’t forget to use relevant #hashtags to help get discovered! These kinds of polls can be especially useful for new businesses, who are trying to build brand recognition via social media.
f. Show off products – This is Instagram. You don’t need an occasion or a full-fledged campaign to display your wares. Stories work as an always-on marketing space to design beautiful photos featuring your products. But while you’re at it, remember to throw in a casual poll—in this case, your poll can be playful and funny so it doesn’t take the focus away from the product but does help you engage the viewer. Take a look at how Target uses its associated brand profiles on Instagram to this end.
Owing to the comparatively informal approach most brands take on Stories, they’re a great way to appeal to your audience and get closer to them. By leveraging features like poll stickers, you can turn this audience into active participants on your profile as well—even the quiet ones.
Note – Polls, like any other Stories, can be saved and used in the highlight reel on your profile. This makes sure that even after the Story expires and voting is done, anyone who looks up your brand on Instagram can see the kind of content your profile has.
Discovery via #hashtags
Making your polls discoverable is a crucial step in creating the impression you desire. Yes, this means that even without turning your Story into a paid advertisement, you can get organic views and engagements on your polls. How do you do that?
Hashtags, of course. One of the key features that make posts and Stories discoverable, hashtags can help you search for a catchphrase, theme, brand name, or trend. You can either use a tool like Hashtagify or simply browse around Instagram to find the popular hashtags in your industry and among your target audience and try to incorporate them into your Instagram Stories.
For instance, if you’re posting a poll about DIY crafts, you can add #DIY to your Poll, before launching it. It will be auto-populated under the hashtag. So when users search based on the hashtag, your Story (if your profile is set to public) will be available for all to see under a public #DIY Stories section, along with similar posts from across the globe.
Using Story polls for Instagram ads! [new]
In a bid to make the Stories format more actionable and business-oriented, Instagram has recently launched the ability to use create polls for your Instagram Story ads. This can be done directly, via the Facebook Ad Manager platform, the same way you set up any Instagram ad, except for checking the Poll feature box and adding the specific Poll content before running the ad. You can learn all about setting up your own Instagram Stories Ad from our detailed guide.
The average Story view time has increased (by an average of 3 seconds) in the beta-test leading up to the announcement of this feature, where many brands got to dip their feet in and display branded polls on their profiles. This is especially good news for brands with an Instagram-focused marketing strategy, as they can use the network’s ad infrastructure to run more targeted, human-sounding campaigns—which is the entire purpose of running social campaigns!
Using a sponsored story space to position a poll, has its string of benefits. With this, you can deepen your Instagram penetration and boost engagement in the following ways:
a. Hearing from a wide audience – Instagram Polls are popular, but mostly it’s your audience that’s participating. If you make it searchable with a hashtag, then you can target those audiences, as well. But if you want to reach a wider circle of people, then ads can be the way to get you there.
b. Reaching a targeted audience – Sometimes you want to reach a specific demographic. You have the option to target specific audiences directly—and pay only for that targeting. This way, you can optimize your spending, and get engagement and participation from people who you are more focused on and are more relevant to your brand. By getting them to participate in your poll, you can gather brand research, curate opinions, or achieve whatever other goals your poll aims to accomplish.
b. Making ads more actionable – Not everyone is “swiping up” on your ad content, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage them. Get them to engage with your ad, by adding a relevant poll.
While these are just templates to make your Story polls more relevant, you can adapt it to your brand’s specific tone, and marketing strategy. Let us know if you’ve used Story polls before, and how it went, by dropping us a comment below!