How to Create Instagram Stories That People Want to Watch
So you’ve grown a good following on the Gram’ posting to the feed and now you’re wondering why engagement seems to have dropped over the past six months?
Is it the algorithm updates from Instagram’s world beating Daddy, ole Mr Facebook? Is it the content you’re putting out there? Or does everyone just hate you now wahhhh? Since you’re here on our blog, we’re assuming the latter isn’t the case (you’re obviously a nice person and intelligent as hell to be reading this post), but it could be both algorithm updates, content quality OR the introduction of Instagram stories that is hurting your engagement.
If you're not posting to Instagram stories, you're simply not reaching all of the customers and followers you could be. Since Instagram rolled out the decidedly Snapchat-esque stories feature in 2016, the number of users getting their social content from stories has increased to over 200 million users - surpassing Snapchat's 150 million.
So what are Instagram stories and why should every business that has an Instagram presence use them?
Stories are 1-15 second images, videos or animations that appear for 24hours. They are the round circles with images up the very top of your screen when you open the Instagram app.
Why should you use them as part of your Instagram content strategy?
- It's where the eyeballs are. A recent poll we conducted amongst our followers showed a massive 75% are spending their time watching stories compared to scrolling their feed.
- They allow you to tell your brand story in a much more personal, authentic and interactive way. Show your customers the passion you have for what you do and that will resonate with them, encouraging them to buy your product or service.
- They’re addictive – who doesn’t want to know what goes on ‘behind closed doors’ of our favourite businesses, brands and Insta-celebs?
- They provide users with a never-ending content stream without lifting a finger (or thumb) 😉
- They’re incredibly immersive – don’t you find the full screen experience absolutely mesmerising?!
STORIES SET-UP: STEP BY STEP
What to post you ask? The ideas are endless, but here are a few to get you started:
- Show off product detail; talk them through the care and thought that's gone into creating your product or service
- Highlight your brand values - if you are all about sustainability, then show them some of the steps you take to make your office waste free OR if you're in the health and wellness industry for example, then share some tips on how you eat healthy when you're on the run (shots of the food you're ordered, your fav places to eat etc)
- Introduce/profile staff - ask them what their fav product/service is and why
- Go behind the scenes on your buying trips, charity events, photshoots,
- Create How to's using your product or service
- Give them sneak peaks at new ranges
- Share what's trending or give quick updates on what's sold out/on sale
- Remind them of posts on your feed -competitions, giveaways or juicy news
- Ask what they want - use the poll feature to conduct instant market research
NOW, hopefully that has your creative juices flowing. Here's how you can execute your awesome planning.
- Consider your media - is it photos, video, animations or a combination of all three? We love the suite of special effects, filters and editing tools that the Instagram app offers (more detail on that in the Upload step below)
- If you're not taking the photos/videos on the spot for immediate upload, or are creating content on your PC/laptop, you can email/dropbox/airdrop them to your phone and save them to your camera roll - just remember you can only use photos and videos that have been saved to your phone in the last 24 hours.
- If it's been more than 24hours, then you can screen grab a photo and it will appear in your 'recent photos' to upload. Keep in mind that does reduce the resolution slightly.
- If you're creating images on your desktop to upload, consider the optimal image size and ratio for stories - 1080 by 1920 pixels. What this means is that your video or photo will have to be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels in height. Also known as an aspect ratio of 9:16.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway: if you're thinking to yourself - I don't want to talk on camera, I'm not trained for that, then think again. Stories is all about getting out of your comfort zone and connecting on a personal level with your customers. If you're really not comfortable, then look to your employees for someone that could be a strong brand ambassador (or at the very least record your voice as you film what's in front of you)
- Not happy with how Instagram has cropped your image when you uploaded it? Consider using a free photo editing and design tool like Canva to create the image you're after - you can use your brand fonts and colours to keep it looking on point.
- If you prefer to keep it simple, you can optimise the zoom of your image by editing the size of the photo on your phone and choosing a 9:16 ratio (Edit / Crop / Layered Squares Button far right / Choose 9:16 / Move photo to perfect position and zoom).
- Stories don't have to be professionally filmed on fancy cameras - your phone is fine. Make use of filters, different media types, text, GIFS, hashtags and fonts to create an engaging story.
Now you have an idea of what you want to share, you've taken the photos/or going to film them on the spot and are ready to post!
- Open your Instagram App and click on the HOME icon - bottom left of your screen
- Click on the Camera icon top left of screen - this is above the 'Stories' feed
- Choose your media type. Either from your camera roll (bottom left white square) or from one of the point and shoot options below:
- Type (Text Only) - There are currently 4 different type faces and background colour options. Use these as 'bridging' pieces if your story - providing context and clarity
- LIVE - This is an absolutely brilliant way to reach more of your followers as a portion will receive a notification that you are LIVE. Engagement is up to SIX times higher for live video. You can also save this video to appear in the stories feed for 24 hours
- Normal - Regular still photo if tapped once or video if held down
- Boomerang - A 3 second looping video which is fun, eye catching and a great way to make a point
- Superzoom - Speaks for itself really, but allows you to take video whilst the camera zooms in hilariously on the subject
- Rewind - Records your video then plays it in reverse
- Hands Free - allows you to set your phone up on a stand or hold it facing you without having to hold your finger down on the record button for video
- Stop-Motion - Allows you to use still images to create simple, engaging videos, often used for 'how to' videos or when you want to show someone a step-by-step without the fluff in between
- Once you've chosen your media type, you can also add a filter - click on the little smily face with stars bottom right of screen OR you can take your image/video then choose a filter to apply afterwards (there are 10+ options including black and white)
- You can also adjust the zoom of the image by using two fingers to pinch it - it will either shrink down to original size or stay at the Instagram pre-set zoom level of 9:16 aspect ratio.
- Add text using the Aa or pencil tools at the top right of screen
- Add hashtags, location, time, temperature, animated GIF's, polls and cute graphics from the square smily face button top right of screen
- Save your individual images to your camera roll using the arrow at the top centre of screen
- if you're ready to upload to the world, hit the 'Send to' button bottom right of screen and choose to SHARE to Your Story.
- Voila! Look at you go. Now repeat these steps to add the next 'frame/screen' to your story.
We recommend multiple screens in your story as this means you have more of a chance to catch someone's eye as they're scrolling through stories. A single lone image might get lost!
Instagram also recently updated the app to allow your stories to be saved to a 'Highlight Reel' - this appears under your profile bio. To do this, go and watch your story by clicking on your profile picture, then click the 'Highlight option' bottom right of screen and voila! You can even upload custom cover images, which looks amazing and keeps your profile and feed on brand, consistent and professional.
You can see who has viewed each screen of your story by viewing it (clicking on your profile picture) and checking the metrics in the bottom left - you can click on this and drill down to individual users.
If you have a business profile, you can click on your profile pic bottom left of screen, then choose the 'Insights' bar graph icon at the top to see more detailed insights on your story as well as other important tracking metrics.
As we are super passionate about all things Instagram, this post could have gone on for days!
If you have any questions or if you would like us to cover something that we might not have mentioned, feel free to shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or please drop us a comment below.
We hope that you picked up something in the post that you can implement today.
For more tips, tricks and inspiration, be sure to follow us on Instagram here.