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Instagram Story Techniques your Business needs to know to Increase Engagement

The most engaging content on social media platforms right now is video and the Stories feature on Instagram is growing fast with more than 400 million accounts using the Stories feature every single day!

Now that’s a lot of content!

So how do you make your own Stories stand out while being revitalised each day?

First, let’s get back to basics.

What is an Instagram Story and how do you post one?

Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories provides a place for users to post images and videos which are viewable for only 24 hours. After 24 hours the story is archived. However, there is the chance to increase its longevity by ‘highlighting’ the story or sharing as a post.

If you wish to add a story to your Instagram account (and we advise that you do) you can click the plus icon on your profile picture at the top of the main feed or on your profile. If you have already posted a story and wish to add another, go to your feed and hold down your profile image until a pop-up suggests adding another story (see image). Sharing made simple!

If you or someone you follow has an active story, their profile picture will have a pink/ orange glow.

Tip: Actions you can perform on a Story, Forward – click right-hand side, Back – click left-hand side, Pause - hold screen, Skip – swipe from right to left to skip to next users Story, Exit Story - swipe down, Direct reply via text or video – Click onto an icon at the bottom of the story.

Now you know how to post. What can you add to an Instagram story?

Instagram Stories are a great way to interact with your audience, especially if you have a structured theme for you main feed, Stories can be a place where you can let your hair down and add something different from your usual schedule. In 2018, Stories increased the amount of time spent on Instagram to 28 minutes a day and for under 25-year-olds this increased to 32 minutes.

Instagram Stories gives you a chance to be creative by designing text, gifs, sound and video posts.

There are several options to choose from for the type of video you can post: Normal, boomerang (a popular option), rewind, handsfree or for those fearless ones out there ‘live’, where your video delivers a live-feed to your audience. ‘Going live’ is great for engagement as Instagram notifies your followers you are live for real-time interactions.

A boomerang video allows you to record a short video and automatically plays in a loop back and forth, a bit like a gif but in a different video format. This can look amazing and comical if you record something moving such as jumping into a pool, this appears you are leaping in and out of the pool. Using the boomerang feature means you can be innovative to create unique, interesting videos.

Several icons can be added to your text, picture and video Stories, each with their own unique advantages. Increase reach by adding a hashtag, location or tagging another user to your Story to be possibly featured in the Explore section or have a user share your Story.

Tip: If these tags are ruining the aesthetics of your Story you can resize them smaller by ‘pinching’ the screen and place a gif or image over the top to hide the text.

Increase engagement by adding features such as polls, quizzes and questions. To make it even more eye-catching customise the background colour and add gifs.

Polls give you the opportunity to ask your audience a question to help you decide between two different options and find out your audiences’ preferences. For example, ‘Cats or dogs?’ Once your audience has voted they can instantly view which poll is in the lead!

Test your audience’s knowledge with the new quiz option, make it fun,

for example ‘What’s my favourite ice cream flavour?’ Or use it as research to understand how much your audience knows about your business and where your marketing needs to improve its reach, does your audience know you have longer opening hours on a particular day of the week?

Or turn the tables using the questions icon and have your audience ask you questions! Once received you can post the answer to your story for everyone to see.

Important announcement? Grab your audience’s attention by adding a countdown! Perfect for building anticipation for launching a new product.

Above are the main features you can add to a Story however if you want your Stories to stand out from the crowd the following ideas will help to get you noticed.

Instagram posts with a face get 38% more likes, therefore you should certainly be utilising face filters on Stories. Find ones that suit your brand and try to keep to those or during certain times of the year, for example, heart eyes on valentine’s day.

Add objects and icons to your selfies or take note from our very own Contemporary PA Owner and video yourself as an animated tiger speaking in a squeaky voice, be silly and have fun with it! Your audience wants to know you have a personality!!

Layering can give your Stories depth. There are a few ways you can layer a Story. Layer one Story with multiple images to create a collage. Add the same text in different colours to create a shadow effect (see picture). Post multiple Stories of the same image but add different icons on each post so when viewed together icons appear and disappear – An easy way to create a gif/ video experience.

Tag other Instagram users in a favourites list – Your top five places to go this Summer?

One of my personal favourites is the Stories reveal! Great to use if you have an announcement or wish to promote a new post in your main feed. A reveal Story is where only parts of the post/ image are visible, you can either direct people to the original post or reveal in another Story.

Tip: When creating a reveal Story, select the pen icon and desired colour, then hold the screen until whole Story is filled with the colour, then use the eraser to reveal selected parts of your Story!

The internet is a hub of information and Stories are an ideal way to educate through vlogging (video blogging). When you add a video, it will be cut into 15 second sections, within those sections you can add individual icons to appear. Uploading a video in this way can be useful for tutorials, storyboards, behind the scenes or increasing your audiences’ watching time to hint at what is coming up next!

A recent trend on Instagram is inspired by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein. Creating your very own vibrant Pop Art by adding colourful graphics and outlines to images. Mixing real-life with often hand-drawn symbols forming playful and fun imagery.

Tip: Hold a colour to view the full colour gradient. Can’t find the right background colour for your branding? Select your logo as an image from your gallery (save this into your gallery on your phone if not already there!) Once your logo has been added, click on the colour dropper tool to select a colour from your logo. Hold the screen to use the colour as the background of your post – add text, tags and gifs (hiding your logo behind).

Don’t worry, if you are not that creatively minded, Instagram Stories do not have to be made entirely from scratch. Search for templates on Google and Canva to help you with your design or use templates that help your audience to get to know you, these are usually a display of questions and you can fill in the blanks with your answers with text or create a ‘me in gifs’.

There are many other features that are ‘unlocked’ once you get to 10,000 followers or if you are a verified account e.g. adding the option for customers to ‘swipe up’ to be taken to a link of your choice such as your website or blog.

It is useful to know Stories can be scheduled in advance using tools such as Hootsuite and Later, just be sure to check the analytics after publishing to see what is working well for your business.

I hope this blog helps you to post to Stories and be more creative when constructing your Stories. I even created the photos on this blog post using Stories! Don’t forget there is a download button when creating a Story so you can save your ideas or post them elsewhere – such as Facebook Stories.

Stories are to be captured ‘in the moment’, Stories create a space where you won’t mess up your Instagram theme. Stories are personal, interactive and give a better insight into you, your business and your audience. So, what are you waiting for? We’ve given you the knowledge and the techniques, now all you must do is have the confidence to go live!

The results of our poll are in!

EXTRA : See below for an example of a Storyboard stories post – Three separate stories posted in sequence.

Use hashtag, location and mention tags to increase reach!

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