Instagram stories, despite my initial hatred, is now my favourite social media tool. I love that it’s fast, personal and temporary. Like most people, I felt pretty awkward starting out and unsure how to post. But learning from others and trying out different techniques has seen my engagement and views increase drastically over the last year. It’s now my most viewed platform. So what did I learn along the way? Here are my ultimate Instagram stories tips.

Instagram stories tips; set a challenge

Before starting with my tips, I want to urge you to set yourself a challenge. Stories are one of those tools that can be easily ignored or put off, so having a goal will get you going. Over the next week try and spend at least 3 days sharing stories.

In addition, I want to challenge you to use Instagram stories in situations that will make you feel uncomfortable….like recording yourself doing an update whilst on a busy train. If you wait until you are alone each time then you will lose that momentary feeling of a story. They will also look really dull! It’s way more interesting seeing people and places in the background than just your bedroom wall.

Feeling awkward?

I get it! You probably feel super cringe and awkward in front of the camera. I hated it at first. I hated watching the stories back and seeing myself and hearing that god-awful voice. BUT……the world is moving towards video. Films are consumed and shared far more than image and text. Speaking in front of a camera is a valuable skill to learn and Instagram stories is a great way to do this.

Now you’ve had your pep talk, let’s get on with the Instagram stories tips…..

#1 Aim for variety

It can be easy to fall into a habit of repeating the same story. Stories are consumed more frequently than any other content though so it’s important to keep it interesting and varied. Use different photos – close up, landscapes, of people, of places – a mix of film and video, use different text and colours. And share different aspects of your life and day too. Let your creativity run wild!

Pointless Blog has 4.3 million followers….he must be doing something right! Notice how all his stories use the same filter, are usually very video heavy and cover a lot of personal aspects of his life.

Instagram stories for beginners

#2 Honest and personal

Stories are great because they are personal. They are not about putting out a polished and edited post but rather allowing an insight into your life. It’s the best way to show your followers your personality and who you are. The more honest you are, the more popular they will be. People love to see the mundane stuff – what you eat, how you spend your free time, your to-do lists for the day. As well as when things go wrong. Give away as much as you feel comfortable putting out there!

#3 Don’t re-do takes

I have a general rule that I never do an Instagram stories take more than twice. Really you want to get into the habit of putting out a video first time. Firstly because it’s a waste of time repeating a video that is so temporary. Also, this will help your stories feel more real and less rehearsed. It will also be the fastest way for you to learn to be comfortable doing the stories and to develop your skills speaking to a camera.

#4 No more than 3 talking heads

Someone once told me you should never have 3 stories in a row of you just talking to the camera. I tried this out and sure enough, after 3 talking heads the views dropped considerably. Your not that interesting to be listened to for more than 1 minute….people are busy! The exception to the rule would be if you are answering questions or doing some kind of special story covering a topic. But even then you could add a photo or cut away to break it up.

#5 Create a style

Just like your Instagram page or blog, it’s nice to have a bit of a signature style so your stories feel familiar. This will likely happen naturally when you let your character out…..I follow people that use GIF’s loads, or doodle over their videos and photos, or just use one colour scheme with their text.

#6 Document don’t create

Generalyl, you should be practising this with all social media but especially stories. Don’t spend too long thinking and creating content, just record what is real and what is happening. You can check out Gary Vaynerchuk who writes more about this concept.

And I can really recommend getting a copy of the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook if you haven’t already. This really covers a lot of the basics when it comes to content and storytelling on social media.

#7 Videos are better than photos

Although it’s good to have both, generally you want to be aiming for more videos than photos. If you wanted to show where you are for example, rather than snapping a shot, do a video panoramic of what you are seeing. It’s far more interesting.

#8 Use the tools available

If you are over 10,000 followers (woohoo) you get a link button which you can add to your story (viewers can swipe up to be taken to the link). You’ve hit the Instagram stories jackpot! Make use of this as it’s a really engaging way to interact with your followers. There are other tools you can use as well – like the boomerang or GIFS. They’re a great way to keep things light-hearted and fun.

#9 Do take-overs

Collaborations are a great way to grow your audience. A takeover is when someone else ‘takes over’ your stories for a day. The deal is they get to add a link to their own page and in return provide you with some interesting new content. So invite relevant people who you think would be of interest to your audience to do this on your page. Or contact other profiles where you think they’d be interested to have you speak or share something for a day.

#10 Always use locations

Adding a location on your story is a nice way to keep followers informed of where you are. It’s also a great way to encourage new viewers and followers to find you. A lot of people will use locations as a way to see who is in the same place as them or what’s happening in their area. There’s something quite fun about searching your current location on stories….you should give it a go!

Instagram stories advice

#11 Make it interactive

Find a way to connect with your audience so they aren’t always just passively watching them. Use the questions feature, do a poll or ask them to share their own stories or opinions via message.

#12 Engage!

Like with all social media, engagement really plays a huge part when growing a following and keeping a loyalty. Watch other people’s stories and comment if you like what you see (I always remember the names of the people who send me compliments!).

#13 Use highlights

Highlights is a way you can save your favourite stories. Use this space to give a flavour of you and your brand. They are ignored by lots (guilty!) but are actually a great tool when people first discover your page to then get a sense of who you are and what they can expect in your stories…..so make sure they are good!

Remember to keep them quick

Instagram stories are about being in the moment. Don’t over think them. If something interesting happens or you have a thought you want to share just grab your phone, click record and press publish. The more you try to plan them or perfect them, the more you take away that raw and honest feel that make them so great.

I wrote a complete guide to social media which you might find helpful. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. And let me know in the comments box below if you have any questions. I’d also be interested to hear how you found your Instagram stories challenge….was it as hard as you thought?

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