Whether you are just starting a children’s activity business or you have run one for years, customer growth should be a priority. Of course, providing high quality activities and maintaining strong relationships with the families that attend your classes is important. However, many businesses have also found that spending time on external marketing is paramount to their success.
Social media marketing is a great tool for children’s activity businesses who are looking to grow. In fact, Pew Research found that 25% of parents are active on Instagram. That percentage is even higher when you sort by age: 33% of parents under 40 are on Instagram. Therefore, if you are looking for a platform to tackle, Instagram would be a good option.
Our mission at Sawyer is to make it as easy as possible for children’s activity businesses to thrive. In previous articles, we’ve outlined Instagram marketing strategies that you can use to make your account stand out to parents. In this article, we want to highlight Instagram Stories ideas for businesses so that you can take your Instagram to the next level and see results. We’ve even created our own GIFs that you can utilize in your business Instagram Stories.
Instagram story ideas for businesses
- What are Instagram Stories?
- What is the goal of Instagram Stories for businesses?
- Creative Instagram Story ideas
What are Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories are supplemental to in-feed posts on an Instagram account. Unlike in-feed posts, Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours. However, users can choose to save their own Instagram Stories as a highlight on their profile, which will keep them up for as long as they would like. When users watch an Instagram Story, they do not see comments, likes, or views.
What is the goal of Instagram Stories for businesses?
Before we dive into best practices and Instagram Story ideas, it is important to understand the goal of Instagram Stories for businesses. When and how should you use Instagram Stories? While you can use them for whatever you want, these are the main reasons why businesses create Instagram Stories.
- Announcements. You can create a story to announce time sensitive information, like an upcoming class, camp, or event and provide the details as well as a link to register if you use a class registration system like Sawyer. Likewise, you can use stories to announce new instructors on your staff, blog posts, press, and other similar items.
- Highlights. Did you get a great customer review that you want to share? Do you have fun photos from a recent event? You can add these to your Instagram Story to call attention to these great moments. Then, you can save these stories as highlights on your profile so users can access them whenever they want.
- Knowledge gathering. Instagram offers interactive elements (more on that later) that you can add to your stories. You can use them to ask or answer questions, run polls, gather donations, and create quizzes. Use these interactive stickers to learn about your audience. For example, ask families what types of activities they want to see from you or what times work best for them to attend classes. This is great information for you to have and creates engagement on your content.
- Contests. Many businesses run contests in their Instagram Stories by asking people to screenshot their story template, fill in the blanks or add their own comments, and then repost and tag the business. In the end, the business gets a lot of engagement and potential new followers. The users get to participate in something fun and maybe win a prize!
- Reposting user generated content. You can easily reshare posts you are tagged in to your story, allowing your audience to see them. This is a great way to share photos from class or an event. Just make sure you have permission from parents to use these photos.
Creative Instagram story ideas
Instagram Stories are a great way to boost engagement and call attention to your offerings. According to Techjury, 70% of Instagram users watch stories daily. Likewise, 25% of Gen Z and Millennial Instagram users find products and services via Instagram stories. TIME Magazine reports that there are more than 22 million millennial parents in the US today, so you can really harness the power of that audience by creating strong Instagram Stories.
Instagram reports that over 50% of businesses use Instagram Stories. That means that you need to create interesting, fun, and different stories to stand out against the competition. Here are some unique Instagram Story ideas that you can try for your audience. Plus, use our Canva templates to help you make great marketing assets!
Make use of Instagram stickers
Instagram has built in stickers that show your stories to non-followers. For example, if you use a popular hashtag, people who follow that hashtag will be shown your story. Similarly, Instagram will create specific stickers for events or holidays, like Small Business Saturday, Halloween, Pride, and more. If your Instagram Story includes one of these stickers, it will be added to the Instagram Stories for that event and onto every user’s newsfeed. This is a great way to open your audience up and find new customers as long as the content actually relates to the sticker you use.
Use compelling visuals
A good Instagram Story catches the attention of the user. Crisp, saturated photos that show happy students and fun activities in action will be the key to getting parents interested in your programming. And you don’t need a professional photographer to get those! We’ve outlined the top tips for Smartphone photography so you can be sure that your pictures convey how great your classes are.
Enhance your message with GIFs
Don’t forget, the goal of an Instagram Story is to get a message across. GIFs are short looping animations that help catch the attention of a reader and keep them on a story longer. We recommend choosing GIFs that connect to your message and bring joy to your story. Make sure that the GIFs do not impede the readability of your Instagram Story. Similarly, GIFs that you choose should be family friendly and appropriate, since this is a business account. We’ve created a variety of GIFs that you can use to showcase classes, bring a sense of fun to your stories, and get families excited! Check out the Sawyer GIFs on GIPHY and search for “@hellowsawyer” on the GIF section when creating an Instagram Story.
Give an inside look
You can use your Instagram Stories as a place to share your process for creating a curriculum, writing lesson plans, planning activities, and more. Parents would be interested to see behind the curtain and get a better understanding of what their children are learning in your programming. You can also show videos and pictures of actual classes (as long as you have parent or guardian permission) so families get a closer look at what their child learns and does in your activities.
Be an expert
One of the benefits of Instagram Stories is that you can easily share posts from other users on Instagram. You can also post your own screenshots, photos, and in-feed images to your stories. As a children’s activity provider, you can and should use your Instagram Stories to share research related to your activities, knowledge about child development and growth that you find, and other, relevant information. Caregivers will begin to look to your Instagram as a place for expert guidance and answers to their questions.
Make interactive Instagram Stories
Getting your audience involved in your Instagram stories is a great way to keep them coming back and open up your platform to more people. Here are some great interactive Instagram Story ideas to add to your repertoire.
- Offer an Ask Me Anything (AMA) to families. Open up a question box in your Instagram Story and let families ask you anything. Then, answer their questions in your stories. This is a great way to show who you are as a person, what your business does, and how their child can benefit from your activities.
- Run a poll or quiz. As we mentioned before, asking questions to your customers is a great way to gain knowledge and keep them engaged in your content. If you let them know that you will be using their responses to make more personalized classes and camps for their children, they will be more likely to answer! Let them know what’s in it for them and you will see results.
- Host a giveaway or contest. Use your Instagram Stories as the jumping off point for a contest. Create a simple story or Instagram post and then have your audience share to their own profiles in order to be part of the giveaway. This creates engagement in your stories, on your feed, and with your followers.
- Offer exclusive discounts. Since Instagram Stories only last 24 hours, so they are a great place to announce limited time only discounts. The savings should be available based on interaction with your stories or content. For example, ask customers to reshare your story or post in order to gain access to the code. This will help spread your message to new families!
Best business Instagram Stories
If you are looking for more inspiration as you plan your Instagram stories, we think these are some of the best business Instagram stories and creators in the children’s activity business!
- Freshmade NYC. They create beautiful Instagram Stories that showcase what children learn in their classes. Plus, they highlight research that relates to their activities (cooking classes) to become a resource that caregivers can look to when they have questions or need an expert opinion.
- Private Picassos. We love the Instagram Stories that Private Picassos puts up because they always highlight what children are actually doing and creating in their classes. Using high quality photos, videos, and Boomerangs (looping images), parents can look at the Private Picassos Instagram stories and get an immediate sense of what their child will learn.
- Treasure Trunk Theatre. Treasure Trunk does a great job of creating educational Instagram stories that are well designed. They save all of their stories in well organized highlights so interested families can check them out when researching Treasure Trunk.
- Books and Cookies. Like Treasure Trunk, Books and Cookies uses their Instagram Stories to inform families about upcoming events. But, they also share great pictures, videos, and Boomerangs of their activities. Plus, they always tag their location as well as other organizations that they partner with for their classes, so they can increase their exposure.
We hope that this guide has taught you some important tips and useful Instagram Story ideas that you can adapt for your business. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help.
With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.