This two-part series on Instagram Story fundamentals to foster community, reach new viewers, and cultivate your story style.

In the eyes of many, Instagram Stories are the new television. Watching the lives and experiences of friends, strangers, celebrities, and inspiring personalities - all without commercials - is a quick way to stay connected and engaged with stories that interest you. Stories come in all lengths, styles, and subject-matters, so there’s never a dull moment. As creatives, we have a single line of communication with our customers and fans, capable of sharing our process, our struggles, our triumphs, and our newest offerings.

Part one focuses on the foundation of Instagram Story publishing. We take a look at your audience, plan ahead, and utilize the in-app features to create engaging stories. Part two delves into fostering community and growing a following with consistent Stories.

Even if you’re familiar with Stories, these ten tips will undoubtedly upgrade your practice.  

User Anna Nunez has a highly curated feed and uses stories to create categories for her followers.

Understand why people watch your stories

Ask yourself, “Are they watching because they know me personally?” “Are they interested in my craft, my products, or my process?” You may answer YES to all of these and more… and that’s great! By understanding your audience, you can tailor what you share to be of interest to those watching, and to those you want to find you and begin following your journey.

Quick tip: Make sure that inside your Instagram Business account (which we highly recommend, and is completely free!), make sure you have Stories Archive turned on by going into: Settings > Story Settings > Save to Archive.

Then, open your profile page and choose the small clock and arrow icon at the top right corner of your screen. This opens your story archive. Open any story by clicking on the image, and in the bottom left corner, click the small eye icon to open the list of profiles that viewed your stories.

Take note of how many story views you have per story, what profiles are viewing them, and if there are any “outliers” that have tons of views or not many at all.

User Farmandfolk showcases current projects on video to share with viewers.

Brainstorm the stories you want to tell

You can certainly create stories in the moment as they’re happening, and you can also  establish yourself as an engaging creator by creating and executing a specific story with an outcome.

Take for example your creative process. How could you demonstrate each step, from the conceptual drawing or painting to the actual finish of your dye lot? Keep it simple, but trying to enjoy experimenting with different story ideas.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Breakdown of each product and tool you use and why.
  • Full experience of creative process.
  • Collection of elements that inspire you.
  • Learning a new technique or skill

Plan your stories ahead of time

It may seem strange to plan Stories ahead of time, but think about what great video producers do. YouTube personalities, documentarists, directors; they storyboard the story they wish to tell. Use one of the above ideas or a story you’d like to tell and write out a sample plan.

Include what steps or “scenes” you would employ to tell your story. What order in which those scenes will fall. Are three scenes or fifteen? What you’ll need to create each story, whether it’s tools from workspace or good music in the background.

By getting to know how to creatively tell stories with video, your instant stories, the ones you make in the moment when something share-worthy is happening, will be more engaging and informed.

One of the best things you can give yourself when making an Instagram Story is time. Life happens to fast, moments happen and they’re tough enough to catch in a single try. Try capturing the video or photo and sharing it later, within the hour or even the next day.

Take this one step further and utilize your phone’s internal camera app, rather than Instagram, to create photo and video. You’ll notice a major improvement in Story quality when your crisp iPhone or Android camera is your go-to image creator.

When you want to utilize in-Instagram media options like Boomerang, Rewind, Superzoom, and selfie-masks, create them to perfect then save them to your camera using the downward-pointing arrow icon at the bottom left corner of your screen. You can post that saved Superzoom anytime, especially if it would go better as part of a larger Story you’d like to tell.

Stories are the perfect way to share new shop updates without overloading your feed with product

Spice up your stories with in-app design features

Instagram continues to up the ante with its in-app design options, divided into two categories: Static and Interactive.

Static, effects that act as embellishments to your story.

  • Colorized filters
  • Multiple font, text size, and color options
  • In-media photo capture
  • GIF library
  • Stickers and emojis
  • Interactive, effects that provide opportunity for interaction from viewers.
  • Geotagging
  • Hashtagging
  • @Mentions, user call-out
  • Polls

Developing your sense of style when it comes to all of the opportunities available to you can be overwhelming. Are you a crass-by-creative GIF user who knows just what community to hashtag? Do you connect with your community with local geotags and daily sharing? Experiment with each element to see what fits your preference and lends authenticity to your stories.

Polls are one way to help your audience feel involved. 

It’s possible you have more information than you asked for about Instagram Stories! What makes this part of the Instagram platform so special is that it’s personal - it’s a glimpse into the life behind the person in the little squares. The Instagram grid has become so curated, yet Stories still allow for a balance between creativity and authentic storytelling.

In the second part of this series, we’re examining all the ways you can cultivate a community following for your Stories through connectivity, communication, and consistency.

Amelia Bartlett is a new knitter, long-time crocheter, and enthusiastic writer and photographer. You can follow her through her website, Instagram, and on Steemit, where she shares a variety of content on everything from woman-run business practices to hand-blended teas!

Leave a comment