It’s no question that Instagram Stories are currently generating more reach than Instagram POSTS. I think this is just SO exciting, you guys! It’s a huge opportunity for us to create content that engages our community, takes them behind the scenes into our lives and businesses and allows them to see our uniqueness in real time – in all our unpolished, imperfect glory.
I’ve been getting asked a LOT of questions about Instagram Stories lately – as at May 2018 – so I wanted to share my process (and checklist) for how you can consistently create beautiful and engaging Stories QUICKLY that help you increase your visibility, engage with your community and ultimately convert your community into paying clients.
Below is a series of nine questions to ask yourself every single time you post a Story. I can assure you that by using this formula, you will be creating interesting Instagram Stories in no time that will keep your community coming back time and time again (and increase your visibility over the long term!)
1. What is my topic?
This first one is rather simple. What is my topic? What am I sharing with my community and why? Usually this question is the first one we answer when we are considering what sort of Story we want to post – it’s the creative ‘spark’ we might get that inspires a Story in the first place.
Some examples of topics to help with inspiration:
- Behind-the-scenes information (what you are working in that exact moment)
- An exciting event or occurrence that might be unfolding in real time in your life (for example, an interview or event)
- Something beautiful that you are seeing with your own eyes that you want to share with your community (a sunset or sunrise, beautiful nature walk, double choc dessert at your favourite restaurant)
- Announcements that relate to your business and work (new blog posts, interviews, services you are working on)
- Announcements with a specific call to action
Pro tip: It’s always so important to come back to being authentic and real, ESPECIALLY in Instagram Stories because they are so ‘in the moment.’ Keep the balance between life and business – a good rule of thumb is that for every post that might have a sales call to action, include three others before it that add value to your ideal client’s lives. And yes, when it comes to Instagram Stories, adding value is often sharing those beautiful, inspiring moments in your own life that have nothing to do with your business.
2. What is the outline?
The reason these are called Instagram Stories? You guessed it – it’s about telling a story. And all good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Something I see a lot is an epic photo that I’d love to know more about. What’s the full story behind that shot? What were you doing in the moment you took that pic? What is all the information you can share with someone so that they fully understand the story sequence you are trying to convey?
For example: If your topic is to share that you have two spaces available for coaching clients in your one-to-one programs, you might want to create an outline that includes you telling your clients about your programs, several testimonials from raving past clients and a strong call to action at the end.
Pro tip: Have a maximum of three key messages you want to get across in your story sequence. Studies show that any more than three key messages at a time are two much for the human brain to absorb properly. You have 15-seconds for each wheel. Make every second count!
3. What is the format?
While you are planning your outline you will also want to start thinking about the format. When I say format, I’m talking about the Story options Instagram gives us at the bottom of our phone.
As at May 2018, these are:
- Text Type (to create content in text)
- Live (to go Live to our community)
- Normal (where you can click to create a photo, or hold to create a video)
- Boomerang (a mini video that loops back and forth)
- Focus (perfect for those up-close selfies!)
- Superzoom (for a hilarious up close and personal zoom)
- Rewind (to post something backwards)
- Hands-free (Perfect for a video piece to camera!)
- Stop-motion (A camera tool that lets you take a long series of photos, which Instagramstitches up into a GIF that you can post in your story)
Pro tip: Use a combination of all of them to create a really engaging, creative story sequence that captures people’s hearts and imaginations!
4. How long should it be to convey the message clearly?
At this point you want to review your story sequence to really ensure that the length of time is both:
- Long enough to share your message(s) clearly and concisely, in an engaging way.
- Not so long that people find it boring and switch off.
Pro tip: For any long ‘pieces to camera’ you might do (where you speak directly to the camera) ensure you summarise each 15 second wheel with subtitle text underneath. 85% of Instagram stories are watched without sound! That means if you don’t use subtitles, only 15% of everyone watching your stories will actually hear your important message!
5. What is the style?
Speaking of ‘pieces to camera’, you want to determine what ‘style’ or ‘styles’ your story will include.
- A ‘tap to read’ post (with your messages written in text)
- Piece to camera (as mentioned above)
- Behind the scenes
- Photography led images
- An Instagram takeover (where another brand or influencer jumps on to share their own content on your Instagram Stories)
Pro tip: Just like the format, alternate the styles you use. You definitely don’t need to use all of them at once, but a variation of different styles consistently being used will encourage your community to stop and engage with your content more often.
6. What does it sound like?
This is a step that is so often forgotten! Instagram stories are a sensory experience – how can you add sound to the mix to give people the full experience?
If you want to add sound to any of your stories, simply play the song on your Smartphone through whichever app you listen to music (Spotify, iTunes or similar) and keep the music playing as you hit record. Voila!
7. What is the visual appeal?
A picture paints 1,000 words. In fact, visuals are absorbed by the human brain 60,000 times more than text. How amazing is that?
No matter the topic, style and format, being creative and innovative with making your content visually appealing and eye-catching will be the difference between someone staying on your story or clicking through to the next one. Ask yourself – how can I make this stand out?
8. Am I using an engagement booster? If so, what is it?
Let’s talk about the Instagram algorithm for a moment. Instagram has told us that we are favoured if we utilise all their features frequently, ESPECIALLY the features that leverage engagement.
Engagement boosters include:
- The emoji slider
- Call to action to direct message (DM)
- Call to action to ‘swipe up’ (Unfortunately this is only available for those who have more than 10k followers)
- Call to action to visit our profile
Consider which engagement boosters you can add to your next story sequence to keep driving and encouraging conversation and real, authentic connection with your community.
9. Am I adding this as a Highlight?
You did it beauty – you made it to the end of all the things to consider every time you post an Instagram Story! The good news is that while this seems like a lot of steps, soon it will become second nature and you’ll be sharing Instagram Stories at the flick of a switch.
Once you post your story just remember one final step – if you want to add your story as a Highlight that lives longer than 24 hours, you simply need to click on the little ‘Highlight’ icon on the bottom right hand side of your Instagram story.
These Highlights are the first pieces of content people see when they come to your page, so ask yourself – what Stories accurately reflect me and my brand that I would like someone to see who is stumbling across my profile for the first time?
Any questions? Feel free to post these below and I’ll respond to you as soon as possible!
Big love and Instagram Story success,