Whether you’re a blogger, vlogger, business or individual there’s no doubt that Instagram Stories has been hugely popular since it’s launch in 2016. They are a great way to add extra info, pics and video to your account without it cluttering your grid. A lot of business accounts use them as a way to offer a ‘behind the scenes’ view or a more relaxed and personable approach their account. Many bloggers and individuals use them to document their day and activities offering extra insights into their lives. If you reach the elusive Instagram milestone of 10,000 followers you can use the swipe up function allowing links to be added to Stories.
As an avid lover of Instagram Stories I conducted some very basic research through my own Stories via the use of polls. The sample size was small so the stats should be used cautiously but the poll results do give a flavour of how and what users like and use Stories for.
Whether you want to share more with family and friends, grow your following or engage with your customers here are six easy ways to improve your Instagram Stories.
When creating your Story always remember that your profile pic and account name will be added to the top of the ‘screen’ and most accounts will have message options added at the bottom (unless you have chosen to turn these off). You can put images, text, stickers, hashtags in these areas but doing so may make them tricky to read or see and if it is anything clickable this will make it hard for anyone to click on.
Any text you add can be resized either by using the slider on the left hand side or by using two fingers to slide in and out on the screen once your text is in situ. Instagram have recently added several new fonts / styles you can select but be wary of some of the fussier ones, namely Neon, as if you have a lot of text or are reducing the size it may become hard to read. On a side note – if your Story has a lot of text consider spreading it over two or three Stories or add a comment “Press screen to read” or “hold to read” as lots of users are still unaware that doing so pauses the Story.
Make your Stories searchable
If want to increase your Story reach utilise the hashtag and location options then your Story will be added to the Story collections for those hashtags and locations. I have found this is particularly effective on location and can add hundreds potentially even thousands of additional views.
What type of content
Within Stories you can share text, images or videos. You can either upload from your device or film, capture an image or create a text based screen through the Stories interface itself. Previously you were only able to upload files that were dated within the last 24 hours but this restriction has been removed however, anything older than 24 hours will automatically appear with a date stamped on it but this is easily removed from the Story. If you are uploading a video keep in mind most videos are filmed in aspect ratio 16:9 and Instagram Stories will display videos in aspect ratio 9:16. Your video will be automatically resized to fit 9:16 ratio but this is likely to reduce the clarity and quality of outputted video. There are plenty of free apps (e.g. InShot) which solve this issue by allowing you to change the size, aspect ratio of your video and blur the background so they’re worth checking out for an easy fix.
Chat or caption?
The type of Stories you want to upload (namely – chatty video or caption based images and backgrounds) will vary enormously based on the type of account you have (business / individual / blogger), if you are a business the type of service or goods you are selling, your personal preferences (some users hate talking on Stories) and the content your followers engage with. Trial and error is usually the best approach and, interestingly, my poll suggested there is appetite amongst users for both:
This question is sadly flawed due to the restrictions of using polls as the answer options were either / or and both could not be offered as an option.
Do bear in mind that a large volume of videos on social media channels are viewed without sound (85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute). Having said that, if a user has specifically clicked onto Stories their expectations to view video with audio should be different. My advice: bear the Facebook stat in mind and avoid creating solely chatty Stories but a number of users are definitely keen to view your chat.
Too much of a good thing
Can you have too much of a good thing? Of course! Whilst each individual’s appetite for Instagram Stories will vary, opening up an account’s Stories to discover there are 20+ to go through can feel daunting and a heck of a time investment. On my poll 81% said some accounts post too many Stories – even with a low sample size that stat speaks volumes! How many is too many is unquantifiable within this research but certainly try not to scare your followers off. When watching Stories you can see how many active Stories an account has running by looking at the bars at the top of the screen:
Engage with other’s Stories, reply via a message or send them a picture reply. Stories can be a great way to engage with your followers and accounts you follow. Check out other account’s Stories for ideas and inspiration but don’t simply copy – an original is always better than a copy! And finally, be wary of relying too heavily on any one function within Stories. Instagram recently removed Giphy from Stories thus prohibiting GIFs from being added to Stories. The reasons behind this relate to a racist GIF being added to Giphy and it’s hoped they’ll return soon however, the lesson here is any functionality could just disappear overnight.
Full Poll Results
Full questions and results from my Stories polls: