I’ve long been a fan of Instagram Stories, except I definitely haven’t…..in fact, I used to be a Snapchat addict and, while I adored Instagram for sharing beautiful pictures, poring over other people’s and general product enabling, I felt very uncomfortable with its jazzy new feature.
In fact, I guess you could say I hated it.
I liked that. I liked the impermanence and raw footage vibe. I liked that it was fun and the only stat you could monitor was that weird, pointless number you were given. BUT, I also LOVED Instagram and felt as though I needed to try it out. I mean, streamlining my social media addiction could only be a good thing right?
So I switched my allegiance to my beloved Instagram and through gritted teeth started using the Story function. Guess what? I LOVED IT.
Since then, I’ve become quite the Stories obsessive sharing snippets of my daily life and engaging with my Insta-tribe. And I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to build community, promote my work and identify what my community want to hear from me.
If you’re a blogger, or a brand or small business I want to show you how Instagram Stories can help you too.
Updates to Instagram Stories
As of December 5th users can now archive their Stories (so they last longer than 24 hours) and you can also add your own little highlights pinned to your profile.
This is a great way for you to quickly share a few facets of your brand to those visiting your page. It’s also FAB if you want to keep your Stories to repurpose for a blog post, or upload to YouTube later because you don’t have to consciously think about saving every Story.
Why you need Stories
It’s currently pretty underrated to be honest, and there aren’t many of us using it consistently. That means that you have a FAR greater chance of being seen and seeing others work too. Although, of course, there’s an algorithm in play whereby you’ll see certain people’s Stories (within those you follow) first, it’s a far less harsh one than Instagram ‘proper’ so you’re in a good position to get your voice heard.
A really good place. There are around 250 million people on Stories daily, which is HALF of Instagram’s total daily active users. Stories have increased the amount of time people spend on Instagram, and if you are creating compelling content it will generate customer leads and engagement.
Be in the 50% who are using it!!!
It’s a great way to test things out. For example, I often ask questions in my Stories to gauge the kind of content I should/could be writing. I’ll do this in a few different ways: using the poll feature, taking a couple of pictures and asking people which I should post, and literally speaking to camera and asking a question.
The reaction is always useful, even if only a couple of people respond. I’ve steered my business toward new endeavours based on my Instagram Stories research and I get a lot of blog coaching clients this way too — as I’ll use this to answer questions in a less traditional ‘free consultation’ method.
Approximately 20% of my total followers watch my Stories, and this number rarely fluctuates. I am less active at the weekend, but my followers are too so this doesn’t cause any issues for me.
And I’ve seen big spikes when I’ve been added to a location or hashtag story and have gained exposure to people outside of my following too. This is a good reason to add location or hashtags when appropriate!
Although they exist to rival Snapchat’s spontaneity, I don’t see anything wrong with curating and adding filters to your Stories. I treat it in the same way as my grid and try to maintain a fairly consistent style, using 3 different colours for my text (I do occasionally break out of this!) and sticking to similar tones. Ish.
But where I would never post images of food on my grid, or really write about it on my blog – I often share what I eat in Stories. It’s a nice way for my followers to get to know me, and my vegan diet — and a great way for me to start transitioning into what I’ll be writing about more often (vegan lifestyle)
How to use them
I really suggest you have a good play around in Instagram, using all the different functions on offer. You can always delete anything you post, and you could even send them to one trusted follower, as opposed to your entire crew.
My favourite ways to use Instagram Stories is to share my vegan meals, show behind the scenes of a blog post/podcast edit or photography session. I love sharing what I’m up to and having a moan! And I try to check in with my followers to see if they’ve read my latest post, or listened to the podcast too.
And I share accounts I adore with my followers regularly, because #communityovercompetition!
Some things you could try are:
- Sharing a picture before and after editing
- Behind the scenes of your Instagram
- Chat to camera about your day/new blog post etc etc
- Show something that doesn’t fit with your grid (for me, that’s food)
- Use a poll to survey your followers
- Promote your new blog post/product launch
- Use cute filters as a form of procastination
- Boomerang your swooshy skirt, or champagne bubbles in a glass
If you need some extra inspiration, here are some awesome brands and bloggers smashing it…..
Pret share awesome updates with their followers regularly. Things like the recent doubling of discount for those bringing in a reusable coffee cup, and their philanthropic efforts as well as their commitment to creating more Vegan and Vegetarian sarnies.
Victoria has the most divine Instagram feed and she seamlessly transfers that over to her Stories where she shares creative, beautiful snaps of nature and her home.
I love Claire so much, she is a fabulous travel blogger and takes divine pictures of her weekend breaks around the UK & Europe. She also injects so much humour, that even though she doesn’t do a whole stack of chatting to camera you get a real sense of her personality.
Rabya often shares the behind the scenes snippets from her dreamy Instagram posts, and makes really creative videos too. She’s ace.
Beverley’s guide to using Instagram Stories creatively
Sara’s Instagram Stories Prompts