In the last months, I’ve been playing around with Instagram Story trying to see what gets the best response and learning from others their tricks of the trade. Finally, I’ve got the answers. In this article, I give you my 11 Instagram Story Tips and Tricks (some secrets of mine) to optimizing your Instagram account.
Last updated: May 3, 2020
Before we begin, I want to show you one of the Instagram Stories I’m very proud of. This one gave me an extra push in viewers and follower count.
This compilation of Instagram Stories was the pivotal point when I started to understand the tips, concepts and function of Instagram Story. Does yours have to be exactly like that? Of course not but following my tips as a guide, you will see similar results. Let’s get to my top Instagram Story Tips and Hacks.
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1.) Be Real, be genuine.
I know… this is a cliché tip. Well, it’s always going to be about being authentic. I got some practical advice for you: If you view your video upload and you’re 100% satisfied with how you look, how you sound, then you’re not being real. A helpful rule of advice is to be satisfied with your video at around the 80% mark. A little bit of cringe is a good thing because that’s when you know it’s real.
I keep bringing it up but your greatest asset is your personality. That’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). You’re probably going to ask me “Well, what if I don’t have a personality?” No, everyone’s got one. Yes, even if you’re quiet or introverted that still counts as a personality. The point is to connect with others. The more personality you show, the more others can resonate with you, then will want to follow you.
If you can take something mundane and banal, and turn it into something funny then you’re golden. That’s pretty much the purpose of these ephemeral videos. To give new light into those boring everyday things. And to post these stories with minimal effort. If your images and videos are perfect, then you’re not using it right. It’s supposed to be spontaneous, unedited, and raw.
2.) Mix it up!!!
Nobody wants to watch a 5-minute video broken up into like thirty 10 second chunks. Whatever you do, do NOT attempt that. Upload it on youtube instead where it’s more appropriate. Today, we live in an ADD world and if something doesn’t capture your attention in 5 seconds, it’s most likely going to be lost. Mixing it up and keeping viewers guessing is the best way to combat our ADD culture. After hours spent watching others, I’ve been able to categorize the different theme of their stories.
- ie. Ask a random question, hold a Q&A, post answers
- User Generated Templates/Game
- Thanking a follower for reposts/likes/anything really
- Thanking a company for reposts/likes/anything really
- Simple Conversations/Observations
- Inner Thoughts
- Current Events (personal or industry specific)
- New Post Announcement
- Achievement in your life
- A glimpse into what you’re doing
- Behind the Scenes (BTS)
In addition, mixing it up will organically stimulate interest. From what I’ve seen, I’ve gotten more profile visits this way. Keep it interesting and entertaining. Don’t just use a few of these, use all of them. Keep your audience guessing.
3.) Have a plan! Be purposeful.
It’s called Stories for a reason. Stories have a clear beginning, climax, and end or Acts I, II, and III. Whatever you post, aim for continuity and a general gameplan for the day. For example, if you post a question, make it clear your whole day will be dedicated to that (refer to my Italian Family Fest video). In my video for the whole day, I dedicated my stories to the festival making sure there are clear beginnings and endings, through narration and never really going off tangent.
4.) You do not have to post right away.
It’s a common misconception that you have to upload a story right away. Instagram makes it seem like you can only post images/videos from the last 24 hours of your day. Well, until Instagram changes this feature, then you can go through your day recording and at the
For example, For vlogging style type of stories, I like to record my whole day first, then go back and look through the clips. See what could be entertaining or useful and dispose of any serving no purpose. Another reason you want to do this is because of time. Eventually, practicing this strategy will reduce your workflow especially if you have a busy life. I know this tip requires some effort but it will reward you in the long run.
5.) Tag your stories!
You are missing out if you’re not tagging. This is a great way to build an audience beyond your existing followers. Probably the most important tags are the location and hashtag stickers. If tagged properly, these easily boost your viewership and audience. Tags make it easier to find
6.) Caption your Stories
I forgot what percentage it was but a large portion of people do not watch videos with the sound on. That doesn’t mean you should write an essay but it’s a good idea to write a line to let viewers know what the story is about. If it resonates enough, that might intrigue them to go back and play with the sound on.
7.) Spread out your Stories for maximum views
If you read my Best Time to Post on
8a.) Remember, it’s not about you.
Unless, you’re the Kardashians you have to give people a reason to watch. You should ask yourself, “Besides my personality, what else is my audience getting out of this?” For me, I try to make it informative or entertaining. I can’t think of any other reasons why anyone else would watch. I’ll answer this using the Italian Family Festa as an example.
- Q: Who is this video for? A: Foodies
- Q: What would they want to see? A: Probably how the festival is to compare either from their own experiences or in their decision to attend.
- Q: How do you show this? A: Show the crowds, the vendors you liked, the shows, and food. Be personable.
8b.) Be Inclusive.
Although it’s fun to give shoutouts and to snap photos/videos of yourself with other influencers, for me, it feels more like an exclusive club than an inclusive one for everyone to watch and enjoy. I’m not saying not to do it as there are many benefits to cross-promoting yourself with another influencer but just don’t make every story be about that. Or if you do, provide something of value to your viewers. It goes back to mixing it up (tip #2). Being one dimensional will grow stale fast.
I’m a minimalist. I don’t like to exert extra effort. If I can do things just once, then it’s best for me. So with that said, all the effort and time spent making your stories pretty are not lost. These are intellectual nuggets of gold. If you’re trying to build a following, you can reuse them on other social media platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. As a matter of fact, I recommend it because you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. When Instagram can shut you down for literally anything, it’s a good idea to have other social media properties.
Note: Another way to give your Story legs is by adding them as Highlights to your profile. This tells other accounts your serious about Instagram and it displays your value for both prospective sponsors and followers.
10.) Play around and Experiment
Just remember that these are just guidelines. These tips have worked for me which may not necessarily work for you especially if you’re in a different industry. The best thing to do is to follow my guideline initially. Then go back and review your insights, discover what works and what doesn’t and over time you will know exactly what to do. The key is to know your audience and thyself. Good luck!
11.) Be Congruent & Persistent
Earlier I mentioned your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and in another article abou
You should always post a story to keep your followers engaged and god forbid, they learn something new about you. Think of it as a VIP room for your followers. It’s like, “
Bonus: Engage. Instagram wants to create “Meaningful relationships”
When Mark Zuckerberg said this a while back, I didn’t really believe him but I’ll have to give credit where it’s due. The way the algorithm works nowadays is engagement. It has turned into a marketplace for friendship, almost like Tinder. If you want exposure you have to engage others. The days of hit it and quit it are over. The more you engage with another user (and this extends out to feed likes, comments, DMs) the more Instagram will make it easier for you to be found.
Don’t believe me? If you go to your Stories bar (home screen above your feed). Check out the top accounts. These are the people who Instagram thinks you’re good friends with. And now go to your story, notice on the bottom
If you run out of ideas to post to Instagram Story, then spend the next half hour or so watching/sending a direct message to each other. That’s one sure-fire way of creating “meaningful relationships”.
Want to know more about engaging on Instagram? Check out my article on how to be more engaging on Instagram.
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