Instagram Stories 101
It never actually occurred to me to write this piece until my lovely friend Han Bullivant messaged me and said ‘hey you should share you top stories tips with people’. Maybe I am too honest, and I should pretend this is all my clever idea, but I’m an #TMI kinda gal, so if you find this article useful you have her to thank.
Instagram stories has become a part of my everyday life, even my mum and dad watch them to see what I am up to. Although I do have to persuade my mum to watch them when I’m not in the same room - hearing my voice back through someone else’s phone is too much to bear, even for me. With all the changes to algorithms on Instagram and Facebook pages, and the introduction of Vero (I’m going to sit on the sidelines whilst I wait to see if I am going to join in on this one), one place that you can guarantee to increase engagement and connect with your followers is on Instagram Stories. I get asked a lot of questions about Stories and how to use them, so I thought a blog post would be the best place to share all my thoughts.
I’ve been happily sharing snapshots of my day for over a year now, and whilst I might not upload an image to my main grid for a few days, I ensure I post something to Stories every single day. I have no idea what my early Stories were about, being pregnant I think, but the thing that I think got me hooked was the interaction from followers, which was so much fun. Each night I would log on to Instagram and have a chat about anything from shopping and cleaning products to what I was watching on TV, then I’d see my little inbox light up red with replies. Now I get more views, replies and swipe-ups than I get on most of my photos. I also feel a real connection with my audience, which if you know me, is what I am here on this planet for. I love a connection. What I love about Stories is that everything is slightly less polished and I don’t need to over-think the content, making it really genuine and authentic. I share things I like, quickly and easily - for someone with a healthy shopping habit it’s like going shopping with your best friends without leaving the house. I am HOOKED. Are you embracing Stories yet? Here are my top tips for using them more frequently:
Make a commitment To It
I’m not saying you have to declare your relationship status with Stories, but do commit to a week’s challenge of publishing some. People often ask me how I have time to do it - the more I have done them, the more they become second nature to me. It’s like anything, practise makes perfect. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you are doing to begin with - that’s the beauty of Stories, they only last for 24 hours if you want them to (although I love love love the new pinned Stories feature for your profile). You can see what works, what you like, what gets replies, and create more of that content over time.
Don’t Get Hung up on Numbers
In the bottom left hand corner, Instagram shares with you how many people are viewing your Stories, but don’t worry about how many people are watching. There are a hundred different reasons that someone might start watching your Stories but not finish them. Yes, it might be that you are the most boring thing to happen to the internet, but it also, and more likely, will be because someone’s boss walked in, the doorbell rang, their child needed them, their bus arrived, their lunch date arrived. And if it turns out you are boring that particular viewer, then you’re not for them and that’s ok. Do story content that you like, otherwise you’ll quickly lose interest.
Involve your Followers
Use the features, such as polls, and consider doing an Instagram Live to interact with your audience. Encourage them to ask questions, share their thoughts and send you direct messages, it really is at the heart of creating a community.
Use Hashtags and Locations
By using hashtags and location tags within your Stories, you can be discovered by more people. It’s worth adding them to a select number of your Stories but not every single one as you will look #uncool.
Make Them Look Good (if you want)
My Stories are very unpolished, but if you want to find out how to make yours more aesthetically pleasing then I suggest reading this post from Carrie of Wish Wish Wish. Her Stories are stunning! If you want to add really lovely text to your posts, use Snapseed or A Design Kit.
Tell a Story
This might sound obvious, but your story needs to make sense. Decide if you want to document part of your day. You may want to create exclusive content for Stories educating your audience on ways to wear things, quick recipes, how you produce things or tours around your favourite places. Whatever you do, don’t upload one story and forget about it, make it make sense and have a purpose.
Play Them Back
Your voice doesn’t sound like nails on a chalk board I PROMISE. This is the only way that you are going to start feeling comfortable with yourself on here. You don’t have to be in every story, but intersperse your Stories with direct, into the camera talking. People connect with human faces, that’s why you like other people’s Stories, remember? Also, sometimes you don’t always make sense, well I don’t anyway, so playing them back helps you understand what your audience sees.
With all the changes to algorithms on Instagram and Facebook pages, and the introduction of Vero (I’m going to sit on the sidelines whilst I wait to see if I am going to join in on this one), one place that you can guarantee to increase engagement and connect with your followers is on Instagram Stories. Find me here @bettymagazine.