Instagram used to be much more "instant" than it is now. We now tend to be much more focused on curating our content and paying attention to how our brand shows up on Instagram. This often means that we are setting the bar higher for content — better, higher quality imagery, cohesion with our overall brand story, and a consistent Instagram grid — right down to the colors we choose and the composition of our images. I think this is a good thing, but it also means that we're missing out on opportunities to share more of our story and really give that behind the scenes context that I know I used to share a lot of, simply because the lighting conditions aren't ideal or a setting doesn't represent our brand in the way we'd like it... you get the picture, and you've likely been there. This is where I believe Instagram stories can be a brilliant way to enhance your overall — and of course, more specifically, Instagram — content strategy. As is the case for creating any content for your business, regardless of platform, it's worth taking the time upfront to narrow in on what you're trying to achieve with your story content. It should, of course, align with your overall Instagram strategy as well.
- Who are you targeting with your Instagram story content?
- Why are you sharing?
- What type of content will resonate with your followers and keep them engaged (while helping you to accomplish your "why")?
- How can Instagram stories help you accomplish your goals on the platform?
By leveraging Instagram Stories, you can:
- Tell a more complete story and share a different perspective or angle than your other content.
- Offer a peek behind the scenes when you're working on something and want to share a glimpse, but don't necessarily want people to be able to see it forever. This is great if you're on set for a photo shoot, at a site visit for an event, working on a client project, or gathering tools and supplies for something new you're working on. Whatever your day-to-day looks like, start thinking of how you can think outside the box a little to share more of your brand with your followers and take them along on the journey.
- Use it as a teaching platform by providing "how-to's" and insights, but also through sharing your own process and how you do things. Not only will this likely teach your followers something and give them some new tips and tricks to put to use, but it will also build your own reputation as an expert and an educator, which can easily work to your advantage. Consider hosting weekly (or regular) segments or "shows" with planned topics or content. Something that people can expect and look forward to, while also holding you accountable and giving you some structure in your content creation schedule.
- Add your voice to your Instagram content — literally. This gives people even more personal access to you and allows them to see a different side of who you are and it puts a face to the brand.
Admittedly, I'm not great at this, and have yet to really add this piece into my own Instagram story strategy. I'll be the first to admit that though I know that this can be a great way to use the platform, it's also a scary one if you're not used to being on camera — or even recording your voice.
I also think there's something to be said for editing yourself and making sure you're actually providing value in some way. You don't need to narrate every little thing you do throughout the day, and you're more likely to lose people along the way if you overdo it. Keep it fun, quick and engaging.
- Offer a "day in the life" perspective". We tend to be voyeuristic by nature, and any opportunity to get a deeper look at how someone is spending their time, what tools they use or a peek at their favorite coffee shop or workspace is often welcomed with curiosity and interest. So try taking your followers along on your daily journey every now and then, challenging yourself to capture it in new ways or provide glimpses at the details through your eyes.
- Answer questions and ask for feedback. Start a conversation, involve your followers and take your community along for the journey, include them in your decision-making process while also gathering customer insights and perspective.
- Share more of your brand story. Think through how you can really focus on telling your brand story through your content and portray the personality and lifestyle aspect of your brand. This is all about building a relationship with your followers and letting them get to know you a little better.
A few things to remember when creating Instagram Stories:
- Use the 24 hr shelf life to your advantage! Share things you might not want people to be able to see forever or use it to build up excitement as you get ready to launch a new product.
- Treat it as VIP content. Really make a point to share content here that people won't be able to find elsewhere. This gives them a reason to click through and watch.
- Create context and don't let your followers get lost. You can't assume that everyone who is watching will have caught all the content you've put out there. So make sure you're paying attention to the flow and telling a consistent story.
- Don't forget to tell a story. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which means that you should really have at least three photos/videos, minimum. This ties into creating context and it may seem obvious, but really make sure you're following a concept through. Include a narrative, even if that's just "how I'm spending my Sunday."
- Think ahead and plan it out. With PLANOLY having recently introduced the new Stories Planning Feature, we're able to spend a bit more time planning out our story content and making sure we're using the tool to its full potential.
And lastly — Keep it FUN! This is a platform that encourages stickers, emojis and colorful scribbles, so don't fight it — embrace it! Again, think personality here and let yours shine through. Don't overthink it too much. It'll disappear in 24 hrs, and worst case scenario, there's always a delete button.
About our Guest Contributor
Paige is the owner and creative director of Studio Bicyclette, a lifestyle blog and creative studio that aims to inspire and help brands and businesses find their magic, style their brand and tell their story. Her wanderlust and ability to find and create beauty in the unlikeliest places comes from a belief in fairy tales that started at an early age, a place where imagination is a tool that can be used to tell a story, spark creativity and solve any problem. When she's not styling a photoshoot or helping clients implement a social media strategy, you can usually find her dreaming up fancy cocktail creations, planning her next adventure or hunting for the perfect shade of pink lipstick.