This two-part series on Instagram Story fundamentals helps you to foster community, reach new viewers, and cultivate your story style.
Part One examines how to consistently create engaging Instagram Stories using brainstorming, story-boarding, and the in-app effects you can add to your finished video. In part two, we’re diving deeper into the impact Instagram Stories can have on your community and your following. In essence, these are one in the same.
Think about the hashtags you’re using on your Instagram photos. Inside the feed each tag is a group of creators sharing photos and videos along the same theme. That theme may be craft, a special event, virtual gathering or celebration, and even a self-created community. Stories have found their way into everyone’s Instagram experience, so take these tips and create stories that encourage your viewers, customers, and circle to connect with your daily experience.
Connect to various communities with Instagram Story’s tagging features
Instagram has recently streamlined more ways to connect with viewers and other profiles from inside of Stories. There are four main ways to foster interaction with your content, so try each one and see how they can amplify your storytelling.
You might be in your hometown, at a cool local coffee shop, or on a trip across the country – geotagging is a direct connection to Instagrammers wherever you are. By geotagging your story, you may be featured in the Story for the exact location, the city, or the state you’re in.
There’s this warm and fuzzy feeling that happens when we shout-out a maker whose product we’re enjoying or a collaborator on a recent project. Connecting one-on-one with fellow makers, vendors, businesses, and friends deepens the viewer’s Story experience and invites the tagged user to come enjoy your Story.
Stories utilize hashtags similarly to the Instagram grid, though you’re only allowed one and it’s based on the algorithm whether your tagged story populates the overall Tag Story. Check out your favorite’s hashtags’ Stories to see what others are sharing and how many viewers are tuning in.
Use an Instagram Poll to start conversation with your followers: consider asking their opinion on a color or product with which you’re working, or inquiring if anyone is experiencing the same thing you are, like a crazy hectic day or peaceful Sunday evening. Polls are also a fun way to incorporate humor into your stories, asking funny questions or inviting people to choose from funny answers.
You can view the results from your poll inside the Story Archive section of your Instagram Business profile dashboard.
Experiment with and incorporate different story techniques
In part one, we took a quick look at the in-app design elements you can add to your stories, focusing on the Static and Interactive options. When considering Story techniques, go beyond the available stickers and tags and get to know each of the media recording and sharing elements at your fingertips.
In-app filming options: Photos, Boomerang, Superzoom, Rewind, Stop-Motion and Live
By creating different “scenes” to your story, from close-ups to a panoramic spin, you’re inviting viewers to enter your world. Have fun with each of the different filming options as you try them out in different environments – on your next supplies run, when your dog is doing something hilarious, while you’re cooking dinner, showing off your weekend read, taking your viewers through your home brewed coffee practice.
Over time, you’ll get to know which of these elements works for your style and which are reserved for specific occasions.
When you develop a consistent story style, one that is smooth and complete, your followers will watch not just to catch up with your life but for the pure enjoyment of great entertainment. Instagram Stories have a Discover function of their own, so your thoughtful storytelling has the potential to capture new followers every time you publish.
Create a selection of Story Highlights with graphical thumbnails
You’ve probably seen examples of graphically-illustrated Story highlights on some of the accounts you already follow. Showcasing a clean, matching set of graphics that are relevant to your brand or your personal style elevate the professionalism of your Instagram profile. Here are the steps to creating Highlights:
Instagram shows your first five highlights whenever someone enters your profile. You can certainly add more, as the highlight reel will scroll, but let’s stick with a top five to keep it simple.
1. Start by outlining what you publish most in your Stories. Not every story is worth highlighting, but considering the ideas you’ve brainstormed and the subjects that are most popular with your following, choose the top five. A few examples are: Process, Design, Inspiration, Travel, Projects, Home, Family, Resources.
2. Choose the colors and style of your graphics. By style, think: rustic, modern, linework, cartoon, feminine, geometric, etc. Consider the colors you work with most frequently or go with your already established brand colors. If you don’t feel confident drawing your own graphics, consider resources like Creative Market or Graphic River. You can find image packs of transparent-background PNG files that you can use as your highlight illustrations.
Important Note: The first story of each Highlight (which becomes a story collection as you aggregate Stories in it) must be your graphic to ensure the graphic is the cover of your highlight, also known as the thumbnail. Position your graphic over a complimentary and on-brand full-color background sized: 1080 pixels Wide x 1920 pixels tall, or 9:16 aspect ratio. Save each graphical image to your camera roll and share it on your Instagram Story. If you feel odd posting seemingly random graphics in your story, do a quick shout out before and in-between to let your followers know what you’re doing.
3. Once your Story has posted (and sometimes they take up to 15 minutes to appear) go into your Story Archive and select your first graphic you’d like to appear as a Highlight thumbnail.
4. At the bottom-right corner of your screen, press the circle-heart Highlight icon to “Add to Highlights.” Select + New and name your highlight, ideally a one word title.
Repeat this process with the remaining four graphics, establishing your top five Highlights.
Once all five highlights are established, go back through your Story Archive and organize your previous Stories into their respective Highlight Collections.
Learn from and engage with the stories you watch
The number one, hands-down, undeniably best way to cultivate a following is to connect. Connect with the Instagrammers in your network and the ones you discover. You can reply to their Stories, participate in their polls, and share their Stories with your own network.
One popular way to connect via Stories is #FollowFriday. On Fridays, millions of people share screenshots of some of their favorite Instagram profile grids, @ Mentioning the user and sharing a bit of kind praise for their style, aesthetic, or craft. Being featured in a Follow Friday by accounts of all sizes can certainly grow your network, but featuring users in your own Follow Friday deepens the connections you already have.
Brainstorm ways beyond Follow Friday that you can employ to connect with users sharing their journey on Instagram Stories.
Beyond sharing your journey, direct your followers to your latest content
Keeping in mind that Instagram Stories are seen not only by your followers but by potentially unlimited users in the Discover tab, incorporate your latest Instagram posts, blog posts, and shared links into your Stories (in a tasteful way).
In order to share a link in your Story that swipes up to open the webpage, you must have 10,000 followers. If you’re not quite there, here’s a workaround available to iPhone users to share a link in an engaging way:
1. Add Screen Recording to Control Center. Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, then tap the green plus circle next to Screen Recording.
3. Tap the gray circle in a circle symbol, then wait for the three-second countdown. To capture sound while you record, press deeply on that same button, and tap Microphone Audio.
4. To stop recording, open Control Center and tap the red circle in a circle. Or tap the red status bar at the top of your screen and tap Stop.
You can find your screen recording in the Photos app.
Directions from Apple. (For Android users, try Googling: How to record screen on [Your Phone Name].)
You can recording your latest blog post, a scroll of an article in which you are featured, a snippet from a YouTube video, and so much more. Get creative with your screen recording shares and be sure to direct viewers to your link in bio to view the full source.
What are some of your favorite Instagram Stories to enjoy? How can you craft your story to be your follower’s favorite?
Amelia Bartlett is a new knitter, long-time crocheter, and enthusiastic writer and photographer. You can follow her through her website, Instagram, and on Steemit, where she shares a variety of content on everything from woman-run business practices to hand-blended teas!