Instagram recently launched Stories, offering a new way to share with our Instagram communities. Admittedly, Instagram Stories are a lot like Snapchat Stories. Like, almost identical and I don’t just mean the name. 😉
What are Instagram Stories?
Stories allow us to share more of the things we are doing throughout the day, without spamming our followers and trying to dominate their Feed, with photo after photo. Stories create a slideshow of our content which followers can access from the top of the screen, above their Feed, or directly from our profiles. Profiles with a current Story, have a ring around their profile pictures. That ring is coloured when the Story hasn’t been viewed and becomes a white (transparent) ring, after viewing. See the screenshot below (iamKirstenT over on Instagram), come hangout with me). 😉
Both photos and videos can be added to a Story although there’s a 10 second limit on each video clip that can be added. There are some basic filters available and text, emojis and drawings can be added over the top, before choosing to hit publish. Content can be captured live or can be uploaded from your phone. The only caveat is, those photos and videos have to have been added to your camera roll within the last 24 hours. Yes, added, not taken. I’ve experimented with this and there are some barriers. I emailed photos from my camera roll and then saved them back to my camera roll; Instagram wouldn’t let me post them. However, saving photos from a Facebook album to my camera roll, worked. Those photos were taken over 5 years ago.
Stories can also be downloaded (as individual media), so you can repurpose the content at a later date. That’s always worth considering.
Story Settings are limited but flexible enough. Stories can be hidden from specific followers and we can allow people to reply to our stories by sending us a message. The default is to allow message replies from everyone. We can change that to people we follow or switch the message option off completely.
Watch the following video release from Instagram, to learn more:
Sue B 🐝 Zimmerman also released this great video tutorial;
What’s all the fuss about?
Whenever a new feature is launched on a social media platform, we get excited, because it opens up new opportunities to connect with our audiences. Sometimes jumping quickly on those new opportunities also results in reward by way of improved organic reach. The opportunity of improved organic reach is always worth considering, especially for micro business owners and bloggers who are on a limited budget for social media marketing.
Of course it’s too early to tell just how big Instagram Stories will become, but right now, a lot of us are having fun, experimenting. 😃
Why you should consider Stories as part of your strategy
Instagram Stories are fun. Seriously. We know our Instagram galleries need to remain on-brand and consistent, if we want to rock it (FYI, if this is news to you, please go readGrow your Instagram and Rock Your Community). Stories allow us to have a little fun, experiment more, and share some of the things we would never dream of including in our galleries. Perhaps more importantly, Instagram is more brand-friendly compared to Snapchat and therefore Stories will help brands build even stronger relationships with customers and audiences.
A little Instagram Story inspiration
Over the last week, as well as experimenting with Stories myself (over at iamKirstenT), I’ve been watching a lot of Stories (it’s been killing my iPhone battery!), to see how people are experimenting with the feature, so I can share some inspiration with you. I’m drawing upon examples from a a range of niches because it’s good to learn outside our niche. So here are a few ways you could incorporate Instagram Stories into your strategy:
1. On location
On location, sharing what you are doing right now. Yeah, this is what Instagram was originally designed for; instant, live posting. Things have changed a lot over the years and expectations of the quality of gallery content has increased significantly; we don’t always achieve that without putting some time and planning into what we post. Obviously this works really well for travel, lifestyle bloggers and digital nomads, but it’s also a great way for pretty much any brand to share what’s going on in their lives and day-to-day business.
- Sock fashion brand, Happy Socks have been introducing their followers to the people behind Happy Socks, providing an insight into life in the office. The Stories are fun and fashionable, so they are really working well, to ensure Stories stay on-brand.
- Nutrition and health coach, Karen Wojciechowski has been sharing her adventures as a digital nomad over on Real Energy Food.
- Rachel Smith, The Business Grower has been sharing daily life and adventures including a recent camping trip.
2. The reality Vs the finished product
There have been many articles where Instagram influencers have decided to be more transparent about the lives they lead VS the image portrayed on Instagram. Stories provide the opportunity to “keep it real” and show the reality e.g. behind a photoshoot and have some fun whilst doing it.
- Fashion brand, Pretty Little Thing shared a Story about a hair tutorial they’ve been working on, which highlights the time spent on crafting that style for the perfect look and photo.
- Blogger and photographer, Nigel has shared a behind-the-scenes look at editing new footage over on Uneven Edits.
3. Ask for feedback
A lot of people do this already when they post to their galleries, but doing this via Stories is a great way to get more personal e.g. by asking followers to privately message you and getting in front of the camera and talking directly to your audience. I’ve seen at least a couple of my favourite lifestyle and travel Instagrammers take this approach, including Authentic Chicaand Girl VS Globe.
4. Offer Q&A
Invite your community to post questions and offer to answer them via Stories. Travel bloggers,The Planet D published their first Story last week with Dave doing a Q&A all about photography.
Done the right way, there’s no reason why Stories can’t be used for promotion, whether that’s your latest blog post, an offer you have available or an upcoming free or paid event. Sue B 🐝 Zimmerman aka The Instagram Expert has been promoting her upcoming webinars via Stories.
6. Provide more detail
Good practice for our Instagram galleries would suggest that we don’t share multiple photos of the same thing, from different angles – or the same angle, for that matter. However, with Stories, there is the flexibility to share more examples and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are attempting to capture the essence of an experience, you can better achieve that through a slideshow. Even big brands like NatGeoare currently experimenting with this e.g. sharing the Viking Festival. Their Story included a first-look at some footage on a DSLR camera, video clips of vikings hanging out and having fun, plus a few awesome black and white close-up photos of a few viking characters.
7. Micro lessons and tutorials
Stories also provide a great opportunity to add further value for dedicated followers, by offering little nuggets of advice. Content strategist, Brogan Micallef has used Instagram Stories to share micro lessons. Brogan is creating her videos in Snapchat, so she can use fun filters, not available on Instagram and is then re-purposing content from her Instagram Stories by making them available on her YouTube Channel.
8. Influencer takeovers
Influencer takeovers are not new by any means, but Stories do provide a new way for Influencers to contribute to a brand’s Instagram channel. The Outbound are allowing their Explorers (local experts and active members of The Outbound community) to create Stories of their outdoor adventures. Buffer collaborated with Brian Fanzo, the Change Evangelist, who took over the Buffer account to share awesome tips and do a Q&A session relating to growing a social following and engaging your audiences.
How do you use Instagram Stories?
Let me know, in the comments below.