A Guide on How to Make Better Instagram Stories
Top 5 tips by @whatshepictures
Instagram stories is one of the most powerful tools in social media today. With all the recent algorithm changes, growing a quality, engaged, Instagram profile by just posting to your feed is very challenging. However, people who are using stories thoughtfully and consistently are still seeing positive gains. Read below for my top 5 tips for creating quality Instagram stories your audience will love (Spoiler: The last tip is a real game changer for increasing your engagement and following!).
Tip #1: Create Value
Create content that gives value to your audience. This could be showing behind the scenes peeks into your business, sharing tips, or entertaining them with a funny story. Giving value consistently encourages your audience to keep checking your stories regularly so they don’t miss out on something helpful or interesting. A great way to do this is to set up a regular story, for example “Monday’s Makeup Tip” so your audience knows to check in every Monday to get their added value.
Just as your regular posts and captions should give value to your target audience, your stories should too. The more accustomed your audience becomes to seeing stories of value by you, the more likely they’ll click on that pink circle everytime it lights up.
Tip #2: Your First Frame Is The Most Important
The first frame in your story is the most viewed and therefore the most important. If you don’t capture their attention in the first frame, they’ll swipe away. Give people a reason to want to see your next frame. You can do this by teasing them with something they want to know, but then forcing them to watch the next frames to learn more.
I regularly create stories on my feed @whatshepictures that I like to call Flatlay Builds. They share the step by step styling process I do for a flatlay. I’ve been doing them for months and people tell me they now look forward to seeing them (ahem, Tip #1!). I wanted people to recognise this step by step process as soon as they saw the first frame. So I gave it a title, Flatlay Build, to announce the start of each “episode”, like a tv show that airs regularly. Now when people see my first frame reading “Flatlay Build”, they know that a multi frame story is starting and they need to see the next frame to learn the next step. In other words, I grab their attention on the first frame so they’ll keep watching for the next ten.
Tip #3: Your Stories Should Be On Brand
Sharing the non-pretty aspects of your brand is one of the reasons stories is so powerful in the first place. It creates a richer, more relatable picture of your brand without ruining the curated look of your feed.
However, your content still needs to be on brand. Many personal brands miss this particular point. Your audience follows you for a reason, so give them more of that reason in your stories. You can share your behind the scenes or everyday life, but do so in a way that relates to why your audience follows you. For example, I rarely post stories of my lunch on my feed because people don’t follow me for restaurant recommendations. If I do post a photo in a cafe, it will include my laptop, a cup of coffee and text to show that I’m working. Part of my personal brand is that I quit my 9-5 job to pursue my freelance work full time and so working in cafes is part of my brand story.
Tip #4: Use Hashtags + Locations
Use a few relevant hashtags and the location tag in your stories the way you would in a regular post to increase its reach. The bonus with stories is that fewer people use hashtags in this way so there’s less competition on the more popular hashtags. For example, if I use #flatlay on a regular post, my image would get lost really quickly because there are over 4.4 million uses of that hashtag. But there are far fewer active stories using that hashtag which increases my chances of mine being discovered. You can see how many people have found your story through hashtags in your IG Insights while your story is live. Take note of which hashtags give you greater reach to use again in the future.
Tip #5: Sync Your Stories With Your Posts
Publish related stories and posts at the same time and then encourage your followers to view them both. In your stories, tell people to comment on your new post. In your captions, tell people to view your stories. And most importantly, tell them why they should do it. Tell them what’s in it for them.
I like to post my Flatlay Builds at the same time the finished flatlay is posted on my feed because it drives traffic from my stories to my latest post and vice versa. Another example is how I like to share behind the scenes photos of the set up of my latest post which gives my followers extra insight into the final image. Syncing your content can add value for your followers so you should tell them it’s there for them to see.
This strategy keeps viewers on your profile longer. The longer they stay on your profile, the more likely the algorithm will think that you’ve just posted something interesting. In that instance, the algorithm might reward your content by showing it to a wider audience. Combining all the above tips with this final one can improve your standing in the algorithm which can help boost the engagement for both your stories and posts at the same time. And with that kind of success, it might increase your follower count too.
Liked this? Don’t stop learning now. Connie @whatshepictures is a regular contributor. Check out her other articles:
Connie Chan is a photographer and photo tips blogger with over 15 years behind the lens. Proving that content is queen, her specialty is creating scroll-stopping flatlays for brands that their audience loves. Based in Sydney, Australia, you can learn more about Connie and her services at whatshepictures.com or follow her on Instagram @whatshepictures.