Creating Effective Instagram Stories

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It's incredible to think that Instagram Stories was only just launched in the middle of 2016. It's now at 300 million daily active users, if it were its own app that would make it one of the most used social apps on the planet. In 2016 alone, Instagram generated $1.5 billion. Those figures are expected to grow to 5 billion by the end of 2018.

Instagram Stories has been one of the most exciting marketing channels for many brands. It allows them to diversify their content, connect with their audience one on one, and even drive traffic to their websites. And it's not just because of how many people are using it, Instagram stories are seen by upwards of 7% of brand audiences in organic reach, which is awesome compared to other channels, hence, why I am so excited about the future of this platform.

Let's quickly cover the benefits of using Instagram Stories and then how you can create them using a couple of different apps. Stories increases visibility, which is one of the most important reasons. Whenever you publish a story on your Instagram, your profile appears at the top of the screen. With Instagram's algorithm, that could be important for your brand getting seen by the most amount of people. It automatically shows stories that users are most likely to engage with first. So, if you consistently put out great content your profile photo will be the first every single time someone logs on.

You should be posting often, you should be posting on a regular basis. This will help you stay current in feeds and also increase your chances of being seen by more people. Pro tip: did you know that Instagram allows you to search stories by both hashtag and location? So, be sure to tag your stories to amplify your reach even more. Whenever I use location, the brand I'm posting for can get featured in the location story. When that happens, extra people see my client's story. And when you check to see who has viewed it, you can see that they came from that location. So, that can be really great anecdotally.

And even if you were to put a major city, let's say you're in Houston, you don't have to put the exact location you're at. You could put, let's say, "In Houston." And you have a much higher chance of being seen.

One thing to remember with Instagram Stories, is that your content is more visible because of the adoption rate of users. So, if a user only has 10% of the people that they're following posting to stories, you will have a higher chance of being seen with them because not everyone is on Instagram Stories right now. There's that benefit of being an early adopter. It means that your Instagram Stories strategy should be to post regularly in order to stay current in feeds. Additionally, social media algorithms tend to lean towards users who are more active and receive a lot of engagement.

Another reason to use Instagram Stories is to diversify your content. You can get really creative and post different kinds of content on stories. Stories allows you to enhance your content with colors, and stickers, and text, and filters. It's really not like anything you would see on someone's normal Instagram grid. You can do anything from photos, to short video clips, and boomerangs. There's all sorts of content, and you can repurpose it for later. If it performs really well in stories, you can move it over to your grid.

Diversifying your content is something that many brands find success with. Stories is much more casual than a lot of other platforms, meaning you don't really have to overthink it. The best way to get inspiration for Instagram Stories is what I like to do, and that's to follow other influencers and brands. I literally study how they use stickers, the filters they choose, and what they post about. It sounds silly but you can get great little tips and tricks by following a couple of brands.

There is a reason why Snapchat's biggest users are humans instead of brands. The content provides a more personal connection, whether it's Chrissy Teigen, Casey Neistat, or DJ Khaled, these mega influencers drive engagement, because of the personal aspect of the content. So, Instagram Stories works exactly the same way. It's an opportunity for you to put your face or faces to your brand. We're literally witnessing the transition to humanized marketing. And this is a perfect example of that. These types of videos and images work well because they're different from the rest of searchable social media content.

Rather than your audience only seeing the picture perfect content you post in their feed and on your grid, stories allows you to personally connect with your audience by showing them that you too, are a human which is a great marketing asset. It creates a connection with your audience that you wouldn't have otherwise and unlike traditional social media marketing, it allows you to post as much as you want without cluttering your audiences' feed. Stories also allow brands to do fun personal things like provide special promotions, or run giveaways that are only available in stories. Again, users can witness behind the scenes content only promoted on Instagram Stories. And this makes it a social media outlet that is a more unique and connected experience.

The last thing I'm gonna mention about why stories are important for brands, is that it gives your brand a personality. Instagram Stories can be used to show your company's goofy or lighthearted side or they can just be used to show the day-to-day procedures within your company. For example, when most people buy a t-shirt from a store, they don't think twice about the process of how it got there, because  we live in a generation where so many things are automated. But what if your company leveraged Instagram Stories to show the process of how everything gets to that store, or how you set it to layout in a unique and creative way. Something like that doesn't take much energy but it does make a difference for your audience. Use Instagram Stories to reveal the personality and culture of your business on a daily basis and your audience will love it.

Now let's chat about how to actually create beautiful Instagram Stories.

You can repurpose blog posts or website content, things that you've already created, you've put the time and energy into. You can grab articles from within your industry, and share some fun stats or learnings. And plus there's always breaking news. Stories do go away after 24 hours so if you're sharing something that's really timely on your feed that's always interesting too. I've experimented with repurposing blog posts and website content, and I tend to get a lot of positive feedback around that. Whatever you've put work into already, re-purpose that for Instagram Stories. 

Another cool idea is to to create a series. You can start by committing to one day of the week, you could do a product review, inspirational question of the week, story of the week. For example, there's a personal trainer from Dallas who does a really cool Thursday evening workout. And every Thursday she does work out on Instagram Stories, it's really cool. Even if you're not creating stories, in a traditional form, you can also look into doing Instagram Live since those stay around fro 24 hours.

Now you're convinced or you're not. If you're not, we thank you for shopping and hope you have a lovely afternoon. 

If you are, now's a great time to share some of my favorite apps that I've used to create stories for the brands I work with. 

If you don't have any content at all, Canva is the absolute best tool out there if you're looking for some really great still graphics and templates. It's also great for story boarding as well. When you're in Canva,  create a 1080 wide by 1920 tall template and then you just make five to six to seven stories and then you can download them all at the same time, AirDrop them or email them to your phone and you have some really beautiful graphics for your Instagram Stories.

The second app that I like is GoPro's Quik. It's great for simple animations and short auto-generated music videos, lots of options there. They have a lot of really cool arty effects and transitions built in. 

Numbers three and four is Apple Motion & Final Cut Pro. So this is more for the creative professional who wants to get crazy with their Instagram Stories. You got the text moving all over the place, maybe even video in there. This is for Apple, If you're on Windows, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere are really cool and are similar. Neither is cheap and both have quite a steep learning curve. 

There are also  some awesome tools within Instagram itself such as Boomerang, Hyperlapse, and then one of my new favorite tools that Instagram just released, and that's stop-motion, which is a super epic really cool way to create content.

There's some lesser known, but still really neat tools out there as well. If you want to repurpose videos from your Instagram story, but are having issues with vertical sizing. The InShot app, which is available both on iOS and Android, is the best solution here. This is a free app that converts a video of any aspect ratio into a vertical 9 by 16 ratio, the perfect size for Instagram Stories. This app lets you blur the excess background margins in your vertical video at a solid color or import a photo into the background, which is really great. If you already have video content, this app will be a critical part of helping you repurpose it.

You can also compose vertical video and photo collages with PicPlayPost, which is an excellent free app for combining multiple photos and videos into a collage. It's also available for both iOS and Android. And PicPlayPost is also effective for creating vertical photo video slide shows for your Instagram Stories, so you can get really creative with those. 

Another app is called the Hype Type. It's an iOS app that lets you add flashy text overlays to your content in seconds and this one is super sleek and quick if you're on the go and you wanna get something out there that is really flashy. 


That's it: I hope these tools help and you're making some awesome Instagram Stories.