Instagram stories
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Instagram launched its Snapchat-like ‘story’ feature less than a month ago but some retailers are already standing out.

Just like Snapchat, the Instagram story tool lets users post photos and short videos that self-destruct after 24 hours. Where Instagram has the upper hand is that your existing Instagram audience (which is bound to be larger than your Snapchat community) will be able to easily find and view your stories. While with Snapchat users have to purposefully add your brand’s account to view your content, Instagram makes it easy.

Here are five brands doing interesting things.

J.Crew: call to action

American clothing retailer J.Crew (@jcrew) recently used Instagram stories to give its audience a sneak peek at a new sunglasses collection a week before it launched, along with exclusive presale on the first 50 pairs.

By using this direct call to action J.Crew can measure the kind of response its stories are getting and decide whether to invest time and money into the new feature. Plus, as they disappear after 24 hours, stories are a great vehicle for exclusive offers.

Lorna Jane: inspiration

Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane (@lornajaneactive) is all about aspiration and helping customers live their best (and fittest) lives. This is reflected in the company’s Instagram feed and stories, with the social team taking viewers behind the scenes to inspirational locations. Think photo shoots on beautiful beaches.

Bloomingdale’s: helping customers

It’s not surprising that luxury department store, Bloomingdale’s (@bloomingdales), has mastered Instagram stories—the company is already known for its excellent use of Snapchat. With Instagram, the Bloomingdale’s team has been creating content that helps customers shop.

A recent story began with the brand encouraging customers to take screenshots of the story, and then presented images of different clothing items that customers could put together to create an outfit. It’s useful content that helps customers discover new products to purchase.

Califia Farms: education

Providing your audience with content they want to consume is obviously vital. For California-based beverage company Califia Farms (@califiafarms) this means educating customers about their products. A recent Instagram story was all about the health benefits of ginger, which just happens to be a key ingredient in the brand’s latest juice.

Taco Bell: audience engagement

Taco Bell (@tacobell) has an engaging and creative approach to Snapchat, and its Instagram stories have been no different. For its inaugural story, the food chain decided to get some feedback from its fans. Using a combination of videos and story features (like the drawing tool and emojis), Taco Bell asked its audience to direct message what they’d like to see the most—food, games or behind the scenes action. After the first story, the brand tailored its content based on the community reaction.

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