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October 17, 2018

It’s been a little over 2 years since the launch of Instagram Stories. Over that time, this feature has pretty much become as big a player as the main Instagram feed itself – for social media enthusiasts and marketers alike.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was reluctant to get on board at first. I thought I was #TeamSnapchat 4 Lyfe. But boy was I wrong. Instagram Stories have proven to offer so much more in terms of audience, features, advertising, and beyond. It’s my go to.

So since we’re all now two years deep into the platform and officially #TeamInstaStories, let’s look at some ways we can up our game.

1. Tell a story.

Remember: they’re called “Stories” for a reason. If you’re utilizing this feature of Instagram, especially as a brand, chances are there is some type of event or promotion that you’re aiming to highlight. With either of these things comes a small story. So ask yourself what it is. What are you trying to unpack here?

Rather than using a one-piece story to say “Hey, look what I/we are doing,” use multiple to actually show it with a beginning, middle, and end (key components of any story). A post on your main feed should serve to simply direct users to this larger story where you have more space and freedom at your disposal to actually tell it. When all is said and done, this story can be saved in your Highlights section as one standalone, cohesive piece of content.

@kylekraj

2. Use Insta’s features, but don’t overuse them.

We all have that one friend who has used the Boomerang feature for literally every Instagram Story that they have ever posted. We all know the over-hashtagger and the person that wants to use every different font in every post or load that sucker up with gif stickers. We all know that superzoom was funny for like a week.

Listen, these features are here for a reason. They can be incredibly beneficial when used correctly, creatively and, most importantly, sparingly. If you have a story that is really worth telling, most of the time all you’ll need is a simple photo or video. Everything else should come as a complement. Text, location, and time to provide context. Music and stickers to add life. Polls and questions to boost engagement when applicable. Filters…. Never. Don’t ruin the visuals you worked to create by over-filtering.

Proceed with caution.

3. Think beyond the features.

Some light design and photo/video editing outside of what is available on the platform can go a long way in making your Instagram Stories look both more professional and engaging for viewers. I mentioned before not to ruin the quality of your visuals with the filters that Instagram provides. I simply edit my photos to my liking using the free Photoshop Express app.

To take things to another level, consider the incorporation of pre-planned and packaged Instagram Stories that include some basic animation. Note the following examples and how these effects help to enhance the message being communicated:

@sixers

4. Make your story interactive.

In certain cases, you may not have a specific event you’re covering, a deal you’re promoting, or even a real story to tell. Maybe you just want to create amazing content and engage your audience. With the right execution and feature implementation, there are lots of opportunities to get creative. For example: Wallpaper Wednesday, where users are promoted to screenshot great photos and make them their phone background.

@phillyautoshow

Spotify has a great series of stories in which they combine some light animation (see previous point) with the poll feature to create an interactive trivia game. Check it out:

@spotify

5. Shoot first. Upload later.

This tip goes beyond just Instagram Stories. Unless you are using a specific shooting feature like Boomerang, Reverse, or Superzoom (which, again you should do sparingly), you should shoot with your phone camera. Take lots of photos and videos then upload the best of the best. Not only will you find that you have better options to choose from, but (this goes for photos especially) the actual quality of the shot from your phone camera will be better.

BONUS: Use an iPhone, please.

Posting an Instagram story or Snapchat on an Android is basically the equivalent of doing it from a flip phone. Everyone can tell. The compressed video quality is horrible, the fonts are different, and it just looks bad. When it comes to products being used, there should be some industry standards. For Insta Stories, it’s the iPhone.

What brands do you follow that are doing amazing and out-of-the-box things with Insta Stories? We’re always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Kyle Krajewski

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