How to Tell a Story Worth Sharing: Instagram Stories

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TL;DR: Authentic storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated. By using high-quality visuals, in-app features and a strategic approach your brand can see an increase in both followers and brand awareness through the use of Instagram Stories. 

In August, Instagram Stories celebrated its first birthday. After only a year, Stories has acquired an impressive 250 million daily users, surpassing Snapchat (166 million) by a landslide. Based on this statistic alone, there is no doubt your brand should be implementing Stories into your social media strategy to be both seen and heard on the Instagram platform.

With thousands of brands actively working toward visibility and discoverability, it’s important to know what makes brands stand out.

Some of my favorite examples of successful Instagram Stories come from Glossier, lululemon and Airbnb. But what makes these brand stand out from the rest? One common factor these brands have on social media is a strategic approach to authenticity, which users crave. These brands make the Stories functions work for them by creating realistic and visually inspiring content that users can relate to and want to engage with. With Instagram Stories, you can embark on a walking tour of Rome, learn how to use a new product or go behind the scenes of New York Fashion Week on a platform you already know and love.

Want to make the most of your Instagram Stories? Below you will find a few best practices we utilize to ensure our content is both powerful and engaging.

Visual Best Practices

The below tips will help your content reach its full potential:

  • Quality over quantity makes for a powerful story. While this varies based on the type of story you are trying to tell, every piece of content should be posted with a purpose. If it isn’t essential to creating continuity in the story, we recommend leaving it out.
  • Make the creative features of the platform work in your favor. You don’t need a team of creatives to make a killer Instagram Story. Play with drop shadow and size text, tactfully integrate stickers and emojis or select a color palette to make a cohesive + visually pleasing story. 
  • Storyboard content in the sequence it will be posted to ensure continuity. This is especially helpful when utilizing pre-existing assets to tell your story.
  • When possible, incorporate a balance of video and photography. This will create a more engaging story for your audience.
  • Be aware of platform overlays on the top and bottom of the screen. If you’re not careful, you may obstruct your own content.

Strategic Best Practices

These will get your content in front of the right eyes:

  • Define the objective before posting. Make sure all of your messaging, visuals and CTAs are aligned to meet your end goal.
  • Knowing and owning the brand’s voice is invaluable to your social media presence. If you can master the brand’s voice you can create Stories with ease. This is essential for on the fly content creation for both trending events and opportunistic storytelling.
  • Make your Story more discoverable by prospective followers. Tag relevant locations and use appropriate hashtags. These will populate at the top of that location or tag feed, which invites users to watch your Story. (Pro tip: Don’t overdo it to avoid distractions)
  • Beat the Instagram algorithm by elevating your brand’s awareness. When followers watch and engage with your Instagram Stories, you can organically increase your content’s visibility to both current and prospective followers.
  • Utilize the advertising functions within Instagram. Create ad content with ease by using Facebook’s Canvas ad format, Power Editor and Ads Manager, which has simplified the platform’s ad buying and serving process while allowing businesses to convert existing Stories into ads. 

Determining the success of Instagram Stories is easy with in-app insights that monitor the performance of a Story, however, one of my personal best practices is to test + reflect on the content prior to posting. On any given day, we spend upwards of 30+ minutes absorbing content on the Instagram platform. Create a test account that can serve as a personal soundboard to help you visualize how the content will translate to other users. Not only does this create a realistic proofing experience, but it allows room for additional creativity and processing, which may spark an even better idea along the way. 

Want to see what we’re up to on Instagram Stories? Make sure to follow along on our account for the latest and greatest from Sparkloft.