Instagram rocked the social mediascape this week by launching its very Snapchatesque Stories feature. While speculation abounds as to whether this was an innovative move by Instagram or a complete rip off, the fact is that Stories is here and public relations and marketing professionals unfamiliar with the feature should really consider how they are going to make it work for their clients and organisations.
What does the Instagram Stories feature actually do?
Just like with Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories allows users to take still images and 10 second videos, add to them text and/or drawings using colored pens, and emoticons. There are filters, but they are minimal and nothing like the fun ones that Snapchat has (see below).
Each still image or video is saved next to the previous one for 24 hours (unless you delete them) to create an overall story from the combined episodes that you provide.
When a follower clicks on someone’s story, each episode runs in chronological order to provide an overview, a complete narrative.
Currently, people cannot comment on Instagram Stories, but they can send you a direct message. Also, you can’t use hashtags or include a location like you can with the usual Instagram images and videos. Therefore, only your followers can see your Stories and they can’t save them or share them or even give them a
How to create killer Instagram Stories for your business
Study and test, test, test
Study what your competitors are doing well (and not so well) and experiment and practice using the feature before rushing into it. You can save your images and videos without uploading them, so get some feedback and tweak them before you go live. It’s not a difficult feature to use, but it’s best have developed even a basic level of experience before telling your client’s or organisation’s brand story to the world using this method.
Think about the entire story that you want to tell for the next 24 hours
Consider your followers and what they will see. While each segment in your story needs to be self-contained and understandable to your audience when viewed on its own, it also needs to make sense in relation to the episodes before it and after it. It comes back to the classic art of storytelling and narrative. A story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. If your episodes flow together seamlessly, your audience will keep coming back to see the next installment of your brand story.
Create compelling content every time
In my previous post about live video streaming I highlighted the importance of not producing content purely for the sake of it. Always put your audience first and only post if you believe that they would actually be interested in the story. If you look at the Instagram Stories of the people that you follow, there is a lot of content, but not all of it may be overly compelling.
You want your followers to count on you for top quality content every time. Your content needs to cut through the noise. To do this you must reel your followers in with a fascinating story and compelling visuals. As I mentioned in my previous post, “Learn about the composition of shots, what environments allow for the best sound quality and what makes for visually compelling content”.
Of course you can have fun with Instagram Stories, but it doesn’t have to look amateurish. Remember, Instagram is a visual medium and aiming for visually stunning content is a must. Happy storytelling.
What do you think about Instagram’s new Stories feature?