Remember when Instagram used to be a social network where you would just take the phone out of your pocket, snap a picture and done? It went directly to the feed – no filters, no image upload, no stickers. It was a simple and easy to use platform that most of us didn’t even know back then.
Look at Instagram now. It’s a growing hippopotamus with hundreds of features and opportunities for content creators. It also has more than 1 billion monthly active users.
Last August, Instagram Stories was born. At first, it looked like a complete copycat of Snapchat that’s adding a new feature. A few months later – Instagram Stories won the battle with more than 300M Active Daily Users as of November 2017, reported by Techcrunch.
Instagram stories bring a new set of “opportunities” for brands and influencers to start more conversations, using not only feed or live videos. Along with Instagram stories, users can now start polls – a simple feature that allows you to ask a question and receive responses from your audience.
It’s amazing how many possibilities these features represent for brands.
I’ll share multiple examples of brands engaging with their audience using these specific tools built for better communication between brands and their followers.
And you should definitely try this at home.
But First, Why Ask Questions on Instagram?
By asking questions, you’re more likely to get engagement from your fans. In the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of my friends moving up from Facebook to LinkedIn and Instagram. They just like it so much more.
On Instagram, they’re enjoying discussing with their friends and having a more visual platform where people express themselves differently. And on LinkedIn, even though there are a few bad apples out there too, people enjoy a strictly professional place for content.
1. Find Your Biggest Fans.
Users that responded to your questions are already engaged with your brand and they are more likely to convert into a customer, compared to the rest of the world. If they’ve engaged in both feed and stories, it means that they took time and got involved in your branded content. Consider sorting these users in separate lists, then you can
- Create custom audiences.;
- DM them in the future with an exclusive offer.;
- Ask for feedback.;
On Travel Tuesday – Airbnb asked its followers to participate in a poll. As simple as it looks, it is both professional and well-structured.
2. Real-Time Marketing is Trending.
Ever seen brands responding to the events as they happen? It’s like that famous case of “Dunk in the dark” tweet by Oreo – it won the internet. Because it was completely real-time. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo marketing team reacted on the massive power outage inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans by tweeting out the following message:
Now that Instagram Stories are included in the Discover and Search – You can use this to engage with the fans around a trending topic and get extra exposure at the same time. Ask them questions such as:
- Who will win – France or Croatia?
- What do you think about [latest events]?
- Have you seen this new episode of [TV-series]?
Remember to put one or two relevant hashtags in there to get trending.
3. Let Them Tell You What They Like Most.
Talking to customers is the first rule of any business and company. It helps you understand what your users want to see in the future and take action on this feedback immediately. Ask your users about the colors they’re waiting to see in the store, most desired items, type of content they want to read.
You can do that via Instagram Polls – it helps you create a very short survey – takes literally 2 seconds to fill out and will save from countless hours to read through all the comments.
Look at this Instagram Story by Victoria Secret where they’re directly asking the fans what piece they like more. And it’s a pretty damn close competition ?
4. Do a Market Research.
How much do you know about your fans? Without using any analytics tool that you’ll spend a fortune on – it’s really easy to ask a question on Instagram to understand more about your followers.
Collect pieces of information from them to make better decisions. Find out where they are from, what they do and what they are passionate about. It will help you discover patterns among your followers and help you search for new ones – improving your marketing efforts.
5. Influencer? Create Conversations All the Time You Can.
Best influencers strive to create a personal relationship with their followers. A micro-influencers opinion means a lot to the audience on taking the decision whether to buy from brand X or Y. It holds a lot more weight than a brand starting their sale.
What Questions Should You Ask The Audience?
Now that we understood how important engagement is on Instagram, let’s see where exactly you can ask questions on this social media platform. You have one of these 3 options:
1. Feed, by asking questions directly in the caption of your post.
2. Instagram Stories + Emoji Slider, once you’ve taken a video or photo with the camera on the app, ask a question and choose the emoji slider from the sticker tray to your Story.
We can see @Emirates using Emoji Slider to ask their audience about the First Class of their A380. What do you think about this?
3. Instagram Stories + Polls, let’s say you want to see how much your friends like that new dress you just bought. Switch to Instagram Stories, take a photo and then go to your sticker drawer and choose Polls. Type your question, and answers.
4. Instagram Live Videos, it’s clear that you can’t just start a live video and do nothing, right? Questions will help you get more engagement on the video and find out your fans’ thoughts.
Below you’ll find a big list of questions you can use anytime to get a higher amount of comments and likes from your followers. Let’s see below. You can use multiple types of questions, like these ones.
#1 Direct Questions
Simple, but they do the trick. You’ll get a high amount of replies because it’s easy to get involved. A few examples of direct questions would be:
- Do you like…?
- Would you buy…?
- What’s the best colour…?
- Have you seen our latest…?
Above, we see an example of how 500px is asking the followers which photo to add on their website from this photographer. It’s a great chance to use this feature when working on a new product or service for your brand to get instant feedback from the audience.
#2 Learn More About Them
Another simple trick is in questions such as:
- Are you male or female?
- Are you a cat or dog lover?
- Have you bought something from us in the past 6 months? – this question could help you create a custom audience with your already existing customers or give them a treat.
Are they Marvel fans or not? Now, these questions can be easily answered.
#3 Ask for permission
f you’ve got a really engaging Instagram Stories audience – this could really work for you. Ask your followers to keep in touch on e-mail. A simple question such as – “Can I email you with a free chapter of the book I’m working on now?”
If they reply yes – go immediately to their DM and send them a message about their email address. Add them in a list and send them the freebie right away. Yay, growing email list! Success.
#4 Research The Topic
I love this example from Hello Fresh, where they are trying to understand what users would love to see on the menu next month. You can also use questions to see what blog post you should write next:
#5 How Can I Help?
If you’re an influencer, offering help is a valuable way to establish a personal contact with your audience and grow your online presence at the same time. I’ve seen GaryVee sharing with the audience that he has 20 min free right now and is offering a FaceTime for the first one to drop him a message. Free advice? Everybody’s gonna love it. Yay or Nay?
Below, you can also see a list of other example questions you can ask the audience.
- Who’s the team that will win today (good for WC or sports events)
- What’s the one thing you do for everyone?
- What year would you travel back in time and why?
- What’s one thing you can’t live without?
- What are you most thankful for today?
- Who inspires you every day?
- What was your dream job as a kid?
- What’s the one book that you offer as a gift most?
- What’s the one country you wish to travel to the next 3 years?
- Would you choose the mountains or the beach?
- What’s your favorite TV Show?
- What’s one movie you watched over 100 times?
- What’s your best joke?
- Are you a cat or a dog person?
- What’s your superpower?
- What’s the best compliment you ever gave?
- What’s the best app on your phone?
- If I give you 1000$ – how would you spend it?
- Who’s your role model?
- What would you tell the 21 yo version of yourself?
- What do you think about [some recent news event in your industry]?
- What do you love about your job?
- What’s frustrating you frequently?
- What do you think about [recent event]?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- What’s the dumbest thing you believed as a child?
- What are some common sense or unspoken rules, that you’ve seen people not follow?
- What’s the stupidest thing someone has argued with you about?
- With all of the negative headlines dominating the news these days, it can be difficult to spot signs of progress. What makes you optimistic about the future?
- If authors ‘covered’ novels, the way musicians cover songs, which covered novel would you be most excited to read?
- You get $10 million cash but Samuel L Jackson will be there to shout “motherfucker” for every dollar you spend, will you be happy? And Why?
- What will be the “turns out cigarettes are bad for us” of our generation?
- What are some good weird questions to ask someone to get to know them better?
- What’s your most unbelievable “pics or it didn’t happen” moment, whereby you actually have the pics to prove it happened?
- What YouTube channel’s great to binge?
BONUS: Dave Schools, a writer I’m following on Medium recently created a great app that will help you get more and more examples for each day. Party Qs is a simple app for conversation starters with hundreds of great questions. With over 750 questions, you’ll rarely see the same question twice (unless, of course, you favorite ★ them).
Ready to grow your followers on Instagram? Start now.
Vlad Caluș is Chief Marketing Officer at Planable and a Marketing Hustler. Dropped out of college, moved to another country with 2 of his friends and built Planable at 19 y. o. Have any questions? Ping anytime at @vladcalus on Twitter.