I’m more than happy to geek out about Instagram under normal circumstances. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago I did actually have a coffee date with someone in the industry during which we did just that.
Instagram is a-changin’, y’all! Have you gone back to the beginning recently? Sometimes I source photos and scroll back through my feed. It’s pretty amazing to see the difference in some of those early posts compared to what we are posting these days. Better filters, an algorithm that determines who sees your photos, more curated grids, hashtags… And the creation of Instagram Stories!
Let’s talk about this recent addition to our beloved photo-sharing platform.
I got on board the Snapchat trend kind of late. By the time I downloaded the app, figured out how to (kind of) use it, Instagram had released their Stories feature. I immediately jumped ship from Snapchat to my favored Instagram!
Sure, Snapchat filters are on point.
- Insider tip: You can upload existing photos to Stories. And, this just in, Instagram has removed the 24-hour upload limit. So you can use all of those old saved snaps in your new Stories! (A date will automatically appear when uploading an old photo, but you can trash this stamp just like any other.)
But I love the interaction you have between Stories and existing geotags, hashtags, and accounts.
This interaction can help you build your own engagement, too. By tagging brands, buds, places, you’re sharing your voice. I love featuring products I love, giving friends shout outs for birthdays and events, making announcements for my classes, and checking in to my regular haunts.
I know I’m not the only one choosing Stories over Snapchat. There are 250 million daily active users of Instagram Stories, versus the 173 million Snapchat users. Engage them!
Create a CTA and Build Anticipation
Turning to Stories for questions, polls, giveaways, and announcements is a great use of this platform! There’s now even a “poll” feature built in!
Now that I’m posting a little less to my grid (we’ll talk about that in another part of the series), I am using Stories to announce when a picture went live. I found myself biting when some of my favorite grammers announced a new picture went up but they blocked out the image. I immediately went to their feeds. Same thing when blog posts are announced with an intriguing or beautiful image, I immediately went to the post. Even better if you have a business page and can include a link to the post or a product page with your Story.
I also love using progression posts to build anticipation within a Story. Stay tuned for more on that… (#seewhatididthere…)
I’m honestly not even sure that this is what it’s called but I’m going with it. One of my favorite way to post is to use the same background image and add features in different posts. It’s a great way to add tags, draw attention to different items in an image, and to build curiosity.
Tell a story
Sometimes my Stories are relatively random. Just things I like or am doing during my day. It’s actually a great way to follow along on what’s going on throughout my day. At Sweat Pink, we’ve done a handful of “day in the life” features using Stories when working with brands.
It doesn’t have to be a particularly deep Story to be interesting. Recently I created one of my favorite Stories to date inspired by Caitlin’s Queen t-shirt.
- Insider tip: Next level progression post. Use the same background and switch up the drawings, stickers, and verbiage to create cohesiveness in the Story.
With the trend going to curated grid (again, we’ll talk about this later), I love the spontaneity of Stories! The freedom of sharing pretty much anything and everything that strikes my fancy that I wouldn’t necessarily want to post to my grid.
I mean, if you think about it, the original point of Instagram was to share “in the moment” things. Now that grids have gotten more curated, Stories is a way to share bits and pieces of your daily life. Crazy hair, silly dance parties, moments of realization and hilarity…
I’ve always wanted to be a journaler, but have always been more drawn to photos than I have to the act of writing in a notebook. Stories gives me that satisfaction of recording my day and all that it entails. It’s also a great tool when I’m traveling to remember all those details that would be included in a travel journal that I can’t be bothered to write down…
- Insider tip: Check into places when you travel! Grow your following and increase engagement.
One great thing to do with Stories is to mix it up with your content. Alternate images, videos, boomerangs. See below for more details on specific features…
By diversifying your content, you’re keeping your viewers engaged. Nobody wants to see only images or have to weed through 20 clips of you talking (that’s what Instagram Live is for). And I’m so sick of seeing back-to-back-to-back Stories using the Superzoom feature (the “duh-duh-duuuhhh” one).
- Insider tip: Mix. It. Up.
Features, features, features
Ok, let’s talk some nitty gritty with some how-to’s….
For a great resource to return to later, this is my go-to when I can’t remember something.
From your Instagram feed, swipe right to get to Stories or press the camera icon at the top left corner. Here’s how you select your image. You can either take an IRL image or upload one from your camera roll. AND you no longer are restricted to images within the last 24 hours! Woo hoo! Before you take a fresh image, use the smiley face with the sparkles to select a filter, or scroll along the bottom of the screen to access Live, Boomerang, Superzoom (the “duh-duh-duuuuuh” feature), Rewind, Stop-motion (kind of like a GIF – but you have to take these images IRL right now), and Hands-free (this helps enormously for flipping the camera mid-filming).
Once you have your image…
Have fun with the stickers! Tag location, time, temp, hashtags, and any of the stickers that you wish. The camera icon below the location tag is how to you can overlay a selfie sticker to your uploaded image. Within the stickers page, swipe left to access an assortment of hats and sunglasses, too.
To write directly on the image, press the pencil icon at the top. You’ll have a few options for style: felt-tip, marker, neon, chalk, and now an eraser is included. Along the lefthand side is a scroll bar to increase and decrease the size of the writing. Same applies for using typed writing, but select the “Aa” option at the top. To change the color of your text or “pen,” there are some preselected colors along the bottom you can select from. You can also hold your finger down on the colored circles to access a larger color palette. For those of you who like to matchy-matchy it up, keep you finger pressed down on the screen and slide it up onto the image. You’ll see a drop icon appear that will change color depending on what your finger is sliding over. A great way to access a color specific to the image you’re editing.
To get a solid color background, select the color from the palette you want and tap your finger on the screen and hold it down. Then write, type, sticker to your heart’s content on the solid color background.
Pinning text or a sticker to a video is a little elusive for me, but I have gotten it to work before. Move your text or sticker to the desired location. Tap the screen and hold down until you get a bar at the bottom of the screen that says “pin.” That should let you select the subject in the video you want to pin to.
The features are where I think a lot of artistry can come into the mix. I have some favorite grammers that I turn to for inspiration. But I think we’ll save that for another day…
Play around, have some fun, and let’s get arty next time!