Having influence and knowing what to do with that influence are two different beasts entirely. In my experience, I’ve found that Instagram is the most popular platform for people to become wildly influential on without harnessing that influence into a business or larger goal.

And while influence for the sake of being influential is cool, I think that using that influence to further yourself is even cooler.

The problem with Instagram, is that people don’t realize how influential they even are in the first place.

Do you have any influence on Instagram?

Instagram has launched careers, changed lives, and taken ordinary people and skyrocketed them to celebrity status. It’s because Instagram is home to the super celeb, that it can feel like if you don’t have 500,000 followers, you don’t have much clout.

The thing is, even if you only have 400 dedicated followers, that’s 400 more people interested in what you have to say than the average person has.

Influence is relative depending on your niche and your goals.

A lot of Instagrammers don’t realize that even if they have “only” 1,000 followers, they can make a life-changing income by selling their own online product to their followers.

Worried that your Instagram audience wouldn’t be interested in your online course? You can use your Instagram Stories to test the waters.

Extend your reach on Instagram by using researched hashtags for your niche. We've created a hashtag cheatsheet that you can access for free:

Download the Instagram hashtag cheatsheet!

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are one of the newest features on the platform. Stories allows you to upload images, videos, polls, slides, or boomerangs that will live on your story page for 24 hours. You can find Instagram stories created by the people you follow on the top of your home page on Instagram.

You can find Instagram stories created by the people you follow at the top of your mobile homepage on Instagram.

To add to your own Instagram stories, go to your home page and swipe the entire screen to the right. Otherwise, you can also go to the top of the homepage and click the plus button and add to your Insta story.

This is what your screen looks like when you're creating an Instagram story.

If you want to the stories to live longer, you can add them as story highlights on your profile. Once they’re highlighted, they stay live on your profile page for as long as you wish. You can also organize your highlights into different categories.

Melyssa Griffin has Insta Story highlights under her bio.

Here's Melyssa Griffin's Instagram account, you can see her Instagram Story Highlights under her bio.

Instagram stories are powerful, because they’re used by 300 million accounts each day and often receive more engagement than Instagram posts.

Test course content using Instagram Stories

The most powerful thing about Instagram stories in my opinion? You can use them to warm your audience up to your course idea and test course content.

How to test course ideas with Instagram Stories

If you are a lifestyle influencer, or just don’t have a very defined niche, coming up with a specific course idea that your audience will respond to can be tricky. Luckily, you’ve got an audience on Instagram, and the tools you need to get feedback directly from them.

Use polls to gauge interest

Instagram stories have a great poll feature where you can ask you audience to vote between two options. You can create polls that say something like, “Would you rather take an online course walking you through growing your own salsa garden, or growing an indoor herb garden?” Your audience will have the option to vote and you can see the results in real time.

This is what a poll looks like on your Instagram stories.

 

I will caution you, don’t ask things like, “Would you take an online course on salsa gardening, yes or no?”

People are often well-intentioned and in theory they’d take the course, but when it comes time to buy they’re less likely to follow through.

Share free content and track how many people engage

If you have more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, you are able to use the “swipe up” feature and add links to your Insta story.

If you want to create an online course on salsa gardening, create a free ebook (or a free mini-course within Teachable) with your 10 favorite salsa recipes.

Advertise it on your Instagram story and add a link. Instagram analytics allows you to see how many people from your audience took action and swiped up. If the number is significant, chances are that your audience is interested in salsa.

The analytics page looks like this, right now you’re seeing the Instagram story views, but you can toggle your setting to see how many people clicked or swiped away:

Here is an example of analytics for your Instagram stories.

 

Host Q&As on your Instagram story

Post a story letting your audience know that you’re answering all of their questions. Encourage them to DM you with any questions they have about your area of expertise, and gauge what types of questions you’re getting.

If you think you should create an online course on salsa gardening, but all of your questions are about keep pests away from your garden, you might want to reconsider.

Share sneak peeks of your content through your Instagram stories

By giving a behind-the-scenes look of your course creation process and sharing bits and pieces of the content, your audience will begin to feel excited about your course and eager to see the final product.

Chances are, the more you share, the more your audience will engage with those posts. Make them feel like they’re part of your journey. Share the exact module you’re working on, and ask them what questions they have about the topic. Or let them know you’re considering adding a section on DIY-ing your garden bed and want to know what they think.

If they feel like they’ve been a part of your online course from beginning to end, they’ll be more eager to purchase. Instagram promotion can be tricky, so by making your audience feel like they’re part of something, they’ll be more receptive when it’s time to sell your course.

Share mini tutorials in your stories

We’re a huge fan of mini courses—they’re a great way to capture leads and engage your audience. While we wouldn’t recommend sharing an entire mini course in your Instagram Stories, consider creating a two-minute lesson on a very specific topic.

You can record your course in one go and break up the clip using an app like Story Cutter.

The last slide of your mini-course could be a call to action encouraging your audience to swipe up to access your entire mini course so you can get them onto your email list.

Use your Instagram Stories to drive traffic to your LinkTree

LinkTree is a site you can use to get around the fact that Instagram only offers you a single link in your bio. Instead of painstakingly choosing from your dozens of landing pages, you can add them all to your LinkTree and then add your LinkTree link into your Instagram profile.

Here's what a Link Tree link looks like in your Instagram Bio.

Add three or four resources you’ve created on different subtopics in your niche, advertise your LinkTree in your story, and track which links your audience is best engaging with.

Don't forget to download our Instagram hashtag cheatsheet for free:

Download the Instagram hashtag cheatsheet!

How have you used Instagram stories in your online business? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Morgan Timm

Written by Morgan Timm

Morgan Timm is a content marketer at Teachable with a background in blogging and social media. She runs Mostly Morgan, a life and style blog that reaches an audience of 40,000 people monthly.