Have you jumped into Instagram Stories yet? You’ve at least viewed them, right? It’s a fun, new feature for us to enjoy, but can it go beyond just fun for marketers? Let’s chat about what it is, a few tips and tricks to getting the most out of it and how we might craft our Instagram Stories strategy.
By now, you likely know the nuts-and-bolts of the feature. We’ll also get into a few aspects of the tool that you might not have noticed just yet. Note that this tool will be rapidly changing, and Instagram will come out with new, fun treats along the way. That said, these features will not be the last of what’s to come.
Instagram Stories, defined:
Instagram Stories is a tool that allows users to share all of the moments of their day in short snippets with their followers. Posts disappear after 24 hours.
Does this sound like another social media platform that you know? Yes! Instagram Stories is very similar to Snapchat. Later in this post, we’ll discuss if copying your Snapchat strategy into your Instagram Stories strategy is a good idea.c
This new feature could be gold for Instagram.
#1 – If you’re like me and have the urge to share an image, but know it’s not up to the high-quality standard of Instagram posting, you’re in luck! When watching Instagram Stories, folks aren’t as particular as they are when viewing your feed. Note that this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Later in this post, you’ll see a quick and easy way to share your fully edited images within your Instagram Story.
#2 – As a follower, do you ever desire to see more from one of the accounts you follow? Instagram Stories is a way to get that “fix”.
#3 – Summing up both #1 and #2, Instagram Stories can fulfill the desires of folks who used to head to another social platform to share day-to-day life and to have a sneak peek into the lives of others. Instagram (such is Facebook’s mode of operation), is working to keep you on their platform for as long as possible.
What are some tips and tricks to using Instagram Stories?
Right now, Instagram Stories is fairly lean. I think we’re all wigglin’ in our boots to see what Instagram has in-store for us next.
The Basics – Viewing Stories:
To view a person’s Story, click on a profile icon.
The bars on the top indicate the number of “moments” that person recorded over the past 24 hours.
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To quickly move to the next moment, tap on the right-side of the photo.
To move back one moment, tap on the left-side of the photo.
To skip someone’s story and pop into someone else’s, swipe from right-to-left.
To go back to the previous account’s story, swipe from left-to-right.
The Basics – Publishing Moments to your Story:
Tap the black circle with “+” sign in the upper left of your home screen.
Tap the large circle to take a picture, hold it down to take a video and use the toggle on the bottom right to reverse the camera view. Add in flash or low-light on the left, and head back to your Feed by clicking the arrow in the upper right.
Change the settings by hitting the cog in the upper left. Here you can hide your stories and place constrictions on direct message access.
If you have a beautiful photo or video you took within the last 24 hours, swipe down to add it from your Camera Roll. This is a really great way to amp up the professional feel of your account and even to mimic the feel of your Instagram Feed.
Feel free to edit your photos or videos with another app. As long as the timestamp on the photo was within the last 24 hours, it’ll show up in your Stories as an option. If it is an image you just added to your Camera Roll from a photo editing app but was taken 2 days prior, it will not populate in your Stories media. If you’ve ever seen Snapchat filters end up in an Instagram Story, this is how they did it!
(Hint: try to take these in portrait mode for the best look.)
Enhanced Tips – Publishing Moments to your Story:
In the video below, we chat about:
Adding screens or light filters
Playing with doodles via 3 different pens
Including text and how to make it look like you have the option to add in more than one text box
Choosing colors for your text, text backgrounds and doodles
Saving your video or picture
Maneuvering from Stories to your Feed
Crafting an Instagram Stories Strategy
Because of its likeness to Snapchat, marketers wonder if they will be blasted to success by copying their Snapchat strategy straight into their Instagram Stories strategy.
Without a bit more time seeing trends on the platform, no one knows for sure how beneficial (or detrimental) that path might be.
In her Build Your Tribe podcast on August 9th, Chalene Johnson proclaimed caution against developing your Instagram Stories strategy from your Snapchat strategy:
The problem is, people do NOT use Instagram the way people use Snapchat. Therefore, when you decide to post a story about your kid throwing a temper tantrum and people follow you for your fitness tips, you’re going to potentially start to lose your following. There is a lot more leeway on Snapchat because it is a very intimate platform. Instagram tends not to be.
Does that mean it won’t work? It doesn’t! However, Chalene gives us a great cue to pause and think about our audience on Instagram.
Let’s do an exercise to craft your Instagram Stories Strategy.
Note: The responses below are just examples.
Speaking solely of traditional Instagram posting, what is the purpose of your posts? What are you hoping to convey to your audience?
Hospital: We want to show our followers how warm and comfortable it will be to enter our doors. We want them to know that they will be taken care of from the moment they enter to the moment they leave.
Kids Clothing Store: We want to show how fun and unique our store is. Bright colors, spunk and pieces of clothes that they can’t find elsewhere.
Yoga Instructor: I want to show that my studio is the place to come for women who are looking to set the bar higher. I want them to see through my feed that I’m the person who can nurture them in their journey to reach an advanced level of yoga.
How much does your audience already know about you? Have they seen behind-the-scenes images, you in raw form, mistakes, etc., or are you highly polished at all times? Overall, what is the relationship you’ve already built like?
Hospital: They don’t know a ton about us as individuals, but they should know a lot about our facility, as that’s what we normally share images and videos of.
Kids Clothing Store: We like to share a bit of behind-the-scenes, but are worried that if the pictures have poor lighting, they won’t be received well on the main feed. We’ve shown a few blunders, and also some funny moments.
Yoga Instructor: People mainly know about my yoga practice and philosophy of training. I share a lot of aesthetically-pleasing photos of me in different yoga positions and not a lot about what I do beyond yoga.
What do you want your followers to know about you? How deep do you want to let them in?
It’s much more likely for personal brands vs. company brands to want to shed a bit of extra light on the behind-the-scenes… their raw feelings… off-the-cuff, non-business-related moments. However, this is not always the case.
Hospital: We want to highlight our values structure, our philosophy of care and introduce them to our physicians and staff. Every moment shared should highlight the hospital and our level of care.
Kids Clothing Store: We’d love for people to see a behind-the-scenes of our products, and a bit into the family life of our employees so they know how dedicated each of us is to the mission of fitting children with style and grace.
Yoga Instructor: I don’t care too much for people to know about my personal life (husband, kids, etc.). I’d love for them to see me as a yoga professional first-and-foremost. Beyond that, I’d love to share what else I do in my daily life to keep me fit and healthy.
Instagram Stories (as with all other social media platforms and features) will continue to evolve. How fun and exciting that is!
Take the questions above with you along the way and revisit them every 6 months. Is your Instagram Stories strategy still relevant to your audience? Are your views going up or down, and as a result, what should you change or amplify?
Have you had success developing your Instagram Stories strategy? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!