With all the changes to algorithms on Instagram, Facebook Pages and even Youtube, one place that you can guarantee to increase engagement with your audience is over on Instagram stories.
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 (gasp), I ensure I post something to stories every single day. I have no idea what my early stories were about, 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 to TV, then I’d see my little inbox light up red with replies. Now I get more views, replies and swipe ups (a feature for people who have over 10k followers) than I get on most of my photos. Its a brilliant platform for working with brands too, I can express much more of a passion for a product through multiple stories than one photo. Everything is slightly less polished on stories, and I don’t need to overthink the content, making it really genuine and authentic. I share things I like, quickly and easy with thousands of people whenever I want. Are you embracing stories yet? Here are my top tips for using them, if you aren’t already:
Make a Commitment to it
I’m not saying you have to declare your relationship status with stories, but commit to a week’s challenge of publishing to stories. 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, I love love love the new 'Highlighted' 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
Don’t worry about how many people are watching your stories in the bottom left hand corner Instagram shares with you how many people are viewing 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. In short their are a hundred different reasons that someone might start watching your stories but not finish them. And if it turns out you are boring that particular viewer, then you’re not for them and that’s ok. Do the story content that you like, otherwise you’ll quickly lose interest.
Involve your Audience
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.
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. Also sometimes you don’t always make sense, well I don’t anyway. Playing them back helps you understand what your audience sees.
If you’re super stuck for ideas for stories content, think about what you like watching and go from there. I’m interested to see what new features Instagram brings to stories, and how brands work with people on paid for content within them. Through sharing my love of shopping, my followers and I have invented a new hashtag called #BettyMadeDoIt, it’s like going shopping with thousands of your closest friends.
Charlotte Jacklin is the creative force behind Betty Magazine.