I’ll be the first to admit that I am the type of person who shys away from change. If I like how something is working for me I usually stick with it. So initially when it came to Instagram stories this was my approach. I was taken by surprise when Instagram launched stories on August 2, 2016 and up until that point I had been religiously documenting my daily life via snapchat. So at first I wasn’t about it. I stuck with snapchat. I even went on a two-month cross country road trip and used only ONE instagram story. And guess what! It was only to let my followers know they should add me on snapchat to keep track of my life on the road.
I was not thinking ahead or experimenting with new possibilities. I was stuck in the past and in a social world that changes almost daily you must adapt. Months down the road I would regret not using instagram stories more to my benefit when traveling, but this is why I want to help others realize the potential that “Insta” stories have and give you some tips to use it best to your advantage. Because trust me it’s better to try something and stick with it for a bit then to totally ignore it while it grows big right before your eyes.
I spend a good half hour a day going through my Instagram stories. (and no I don’t always watch them all.) but I try my best to see as much as I can. Why? Well for starters I’m nosy so I enjoy seeing what everyone is doing. But beyond that Instagram stories are a great way for me to find places near me that I’ve never been to before, keep up-to-date in the communities that I am invested in, and even help me find writing opportunities. FYI – I saw the post that the H Collective was looking for writers to contribute to their blog, “The Hub Highlight”, on an Instagram story. I have never been as fortunate with Snapchat. Below are a few tips that you can apply to your instagram stories for optimal viewing.
Make your stories visually appealing. Even when it’s only a quick image of where I am in that moment I like to make it worth the viewers while. Sometimes when I post pictures of me reading a book early in the morning after I wake-up I like to place a mug of tea in the shot, or a journal and pen in the background. And around Christmas Time I’m always using sprigs of holly.
They’re called instagram stories for a reason. Make sure there is something to your posts. This will help engage your audience more. Before I used to post whatever I felt like in the moment, like I did with snapchat. Then I noticed that a lot of people were skipping past my stories. After that I put more effort in. I’ve posted stories covering hiking trips I take, or typical photos of my everyday life. I do this so that people online can have more of a sense of who I am off of Instagram. It seems an ironic way to do this but typically works. When I post stories of my gymnastics practices I get people reaching out to me saying how surprised they were seeing I coached a sport because my instagram profile doesn’t portray any of that. My point is when there is rhyme and reason to your photos or videos or boomerangs then people will certainly become more interested in you and your profile as a whole.
Use your stories to promote yourself. I often use my story to make people aware when I have posted a new piece on my blog. If you have something you are passionate about and want to make sure people see it, post it to your story. You have 24 hours before it goes away and someone will always see it.
Upload visuals from your own camera. I only use Instagram’s camera for stories when I am doing a boomerang. Other than that I am always uploading from my camera roll. Now Instagram allows you to use photos and videos that were taken more than 24 hours ago. If I have time I like to take photos from my camera, do some basic edits on them, then airdrop them to my phone and upload from there. I find this gets a lot of attention because the images are much better quality.
Make the text within your stories short and to the point. Assume after all that most people are looking at stories for the visual aspect. No one wants to have to pause a story to finish reading three long paragraphs of information. If you have a lot to say, post multiple images with short sentences on each. This is more visually friendly and if people are interested it forces them to keep clicking through your story. This brings us to the question, “How often should I be posting Instagram stories?” And this totally depends on you and what you are trying to convey to your audience. I post an instagram story about 5-6 times in a week. And I typically post more than one. However, keep in mind that if you decide to post long stories everyday then this is the pattern your audience will be expecting you to stick with.
Tag people, places, and businesses. I always tag my friends in my stories and they do the same for me in return. Also whenever I am using a product and I know they have an instagram I tag them in my stories. I’ve done this a few times for Hydroflask and received some products from them as a result. I also am allotted free coffee each month at the local coffeeshop in my town because I always tag their page and this brings them followers. Tagging is important and you never know who may reach out to you as a result.
Be creative and dream big. There is so much you can do with Instagram stories now from using apps to edit short video clips for stories to going live for your entire following to see. The possibilities are endless. So experiment, try something new one week and see how it works. The best thing to do is keep track. Put yourself or your brand out there and study what happens. This is what will help you succeed. So put any of those fears about judgement aside and go for it. I promise I’ll be doing the same and we can grow together. In the end Instagram stories are a great way to build a stronger relationship with your followers and have potential to raise engagement levels.