How to Make Your Instagram Stories Stand Out

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Instagram Stories are a great way to personally connect with your audience. Every day over 500 million people use stories. Stories are an authentic way to connect with your audience because your story is a real time documentation of your day.

Instead of seeing manicured posts like you see in the regular Instagram feed, Stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at a brand. Now is the time to craft your stories for a larger audience. Instagram just announced they are changing the app — giving more exposure to Stories in the Explore tab.

Stories will soon be eligible to show up in the Explore tab. Stories that will be shown in Explore, according to Techcrunch, will be based on what a user already likes and follows in the feed. Not surprisingly, videos will be ranked higher than photos. Highly visual posts (photos and videos) that are text-heavy will be favored by the algorithm.

Because the posts are ephemeral (they are gone within 24 hours) I think some Instagram users think it’s not important to use this tool for branding. Many people post content on their Instagram Story that isn’t beneficial, interesting, or helpful to their viewers.

Currently Instagram doesn’t provide a comprehensive way to measure data to understand whether your stories are performing well. This does not, however, mean Stories should be ignored. You can measure performance by the number of views and direct messages you receive.

With this huge change to Explore tab, you will have an opportunity for great exposure.

Use these top four tips to make your Instagram Stories compelling and make your viewers want to come back again and again:

1). Show your face.

On the main Instagram feed, so many people are eager to put glossy photos of themselves. But, on their story they don’t show their face. Remember people may be following you but especially if they are a new follower they won’t remember your face while watching your story. So, at least once a day post a photo or video of yourself so they gain familiarity with you.

2). Keep text to a minimum.

Let me ask you a question: when you watch a movie do you go to watch action or read a bunch of text? While it’s great Instagram stories offers a way to add explanatory text to your video — think of it more like to highlight a scene if someone is watching without audio turned on. When someone has too much text on a photo/video it makes my eyes glaze over. Stories that have a bunch of text are really a waste of time — they are a waste of your time and your viewers time. People are busy. Do you know how important six seconds is to someone these days? Make it count. Viewers can’t even read more than one short sentence when they are watching your six second clips. Don’t write a short poem on every photo or video you post. Most importantly, let your photos and videos speak for themselves. People are not viewing stories to think deeply— instead offer compelling visuals that highlight your day, give a behind-the-scenes look at your business, show your likes/dislikes, or tease an upcoming product launch. Make your visuals enticing and leave heavy text for another medium.

3). Don’t over post.

You know the saying: that is too much information. I think 10 posts per day is enough. Do you expect people to watch your story with 50 posts in one day? It might be fun for you to document — I get it — I love taking photos and videos of stuff all day long. But you don’t need to be posted every photo and video you take. It’s a wrong assumption to think people will watch a story that is several minutes long. People are short on time and if they do watch your story at all you need to first draw them in with content that is short.

4). Use hashtags.

When you use a hashtag in your story post, you can greatly increase the exposure for that particular post. Any post that has a hashtag will appear in the story when people search the hashtag you used. This is a great way to make your story discoverable. I’ve seen a massive increase (up to 200x increase in views) on posts where I’ve inserted a hashtag. Try it out consistently and you may attract some of your ideal clients to follow your page.

Instagram stories are a fun way to engage your audience through the power of storytelling. Try to use a beginning, middle, and end in your story each day. Use the tips above to bring people back to your story again and again. Most importantly, remember everyone is short on attention so craft your story in advance — instead of making content on the fly or as an afterthought.

If you liked this content, follow me on Instagram where I regularly post video marketing tutorials.

Documentary filmmaker + CEO of Blue Lotus Films — a San Francisco Bay Area video production co. that promotes wellness businesses.

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