Instagram Stories Best Practices 2018

Welcome to episode 380 of Hit the Mic with me, Stacey Harris.

So today, I want to talk about one of my favorite Instagram features and that’s Instagram Stories. This is my favorite feature not only as a marketer, but as a consumer, I super love them too because as you may have realized, not so recently, Instagram rolled an algorithm for the timeline, the newsfeed, whatever you wanna call it for your Instagram photos. So you may notice that quite often, the photos you see are from four or five days ago. What I also noticed is I will say the same photos for two or three days sometimes. I don’t follow a small amount of people and it drives me crazy as a user, but my Instagram stories, they’re always fresh because they only last 24 hours. So I love Instagram Stories. Now as a marketer, I also realized that if I have something that I want you to see right now and it’s not gonna be relevant to you in five days, it needs to go in my stories and not on my profile.

That’s something that’s really important for you to remember as we’re rolling through these things I want to talk about today is what content belongs in what place when you start to look at your content for Instagram. So we’re gonna break that down. We’re gonna break down some new features that have rolled out for Instagram Stories and then we’re gonna talk a couple best practices so we can really make sure that you are using these A, for good, but also as a benefit to your business and not as something that is going to potentially be detrimental to your overall brand, your overall messaging and/or straight up get you ignored. All right?

As always, this podcast is brought to you by the wonderful, the magical, the fantastical Hit The Mic Backstage. I am so excited for Hit the Mic Backstage in 2018. As I mentioned, I think on this podcast, but definitely, in emails, I recently have been doing some planning for 2018. One big project when it came to planning that I needed to do was obviously the schedule of training. So I actually have all of the trainings for 2018 mapped out.

I’m so excited for you, my members, for you guys. It’s gonna be amazing. In fact, if you want a sneak preview, if you go into the Facebook group, you can see I did a little quick video, a quick Facebook Live in there, sharing what we’re doing. I decided to go a step further in pulling back the curtain and I’m gonna tell you right now what’s gonna happen in January.

There’s actually going to be a brand new Instagram training with a strategy focus, so we’re actually gonna talk about, dive deep into building your strategy for Instagram as in what to post and when and how often and answering those questions. As a bonus for that, we’re actually completely releasing for the first time ever an all-in-one Instagram guide. So Backstage members know already you’ve got a Facebook guide in there, a podcasting guide. It’s a multi-module program that walks you through, set up into different pieces and how to do things. We’re actually launching one of those for Instagram as a bonus to that strategy training in January.

So if you’re not a Backstage member, now’s a real good time to join us because also this month, we’re releasing in December, we’re releasing a brand new, top to bottom revamped Facebook guide. So the Facebook guide that’s in there right now is currently in the process of being re-released completely updated for 2018. So you’re seeing things like stories and the stories in groups and changes to the ads platform. So come January, it’s gonna be the tool you need to make the most of your marketing online in 2018. So do yourself a favor. Join us right now. Cool? I’m so excited.

Instagram Stories: Archived and Highlights

Okay, back on track, I will try to contain my excitement for Backstage while we walk through Instagram Stories. I want to start with some things that have changed in the last two or four weeks as of the time of this release. That is the archive and the highlights for Instagram Stories. So now when you share a story, it can automatically, and by automatically, I mean you have to turn this on in your settings and then it will happen automatically, be saved to an archive, which only you can see.

So this is all you, so you don’t have to worry about it sort of being public anywhere. It’s just for you and then inside that archive, you can actually select certain story to be highlights meaning when you go to your profile, you’ll see your profile photo. You’ll see your name. You’ll see your bio and then you’ll see a line of story highlights. Then you’ll see your profile images, all the images that have happened in sort of your history, the images you shared on Instagram. This is awesome and what’s really cool is you don’t have to set one of these highlights and keep them forever. You can absolutely turn them on and off, so if you are doing, let’s say, a giveaway or a webinar or something like that, you can set that story as a highlights, meaning that it’s available for more than 24 hours. Even after the 24 hours is expired, that highlight is viewable. It’s not gonna be viewable in your stories. But it is viewable from your profile and then when whatever it is that you’re promoting or sharing has passed, you take it out of your highlights.

So for example, let’s say you’re doing a giveaway for a prize, like gift card or something, right? It’s gonna be open for five days. Fantastic. You share it in your stories. It’s good to go. You highlight that story. The giveaway ends. You remove that story from your highlights. It’s that simple. It’s really, really cool. We’ve been using this super lightly, but for promo stuff, like saying, “Hey, we’ve got some one-on-one spots open,” or “Hey, I’ve got my Backstage training happening today,” those kind of things. It’s been a lot of fun because I’m also noticing that since I started using the highlights, I’m actually getting more views on my stories. So keep in mind. Don’t just make this about promo. Use these as a legit highlight reel, so maybe you’re doing something really cool behind the scenes in your business and you take a shot to share the highlights. It’s a really, really, really great way to feature, “Hey, this is some of the awesome stuff I do on Stories.” Make the time to make your way to that and check that out.

On the other hand, I also really do love this for promo because you can sort of get that next level attention and you can make a story last a little longer through highlights. Cool? All right, so that’s archive and highlights. To use highlights, you have to have that as archived things turned on. You can also remove things from the archive. So if you just posted something silly and don’t want it to be sitting in your archives forever just because it’s in the way for some reason, you can go in and remove those. But I do really encourage you to go ahead turn on your archive because if you don’t turn on your archive, there’s no way to set up a highlight. Cool? Cool, so that’s what’s new and that’s what I wanted to talk about.

Now let’s talk about some best practices.

Value meets Personality

Number one, think of your stories as where value meets personality because our newsfeed photos, our sort of front facing Instagram photos, the gallery, it’s called or as we can call it, it’s really about presenting an overall aesthetic.

If you noticed when you look at my Instagram feed, you see a very particular pattern, a very particular rhythm, a very specific kind of content. We’ve changed it over a little bit over time and made tweaks and it’s definitely always evolving. But you don’t see the same level of fun as you would in my stories where it’s me and I’m riffing sometimes and I’m sharing behind the scenes and we’re looking at fun stuff and I’m making silly faces and occasionally, we’re using cool filters. So remember that this can really be where you can have a little bit more fun, especially because with the exception of highlights, these only last 24 hours. So have a little bit extra fun, so I really want this to be a place where you look at, “How can I provide value in a really entertaining way?” Now obviously, you have to find the level of entertaining that works for your brand. Some brands are less silly, for lack of a better word, than other.

But with that said, there’s always ways that you can really express your brand, your brand personality, the values of your brand in a way that is entertaining. One of the ways that you could do that is having different people in your organization or having different perspectives, whether it’s you or your clients or your team members or whatever to sharing things from what’s happening in your business or what’s coming up. I know for my community, there’s a lot of us that, from time to time, we have to get out of the office. So it means going somewhere. So share that. Talk about that. Allow that insight into how you work and how you function and again, keep it super fun. Keep it light. Keep it valuable and interesting. All right?

Give your story a FOCUS

The other thing I want to talk about is choose a focus. So one of the things I don’t generally do is do an Instagram Story throughout the day. Generally, I jump in and I’ll share something that I try to keep to a matter of four or five little clips and that’s it.

Occasionally, I’ll come back and I’ll do something else or I’ll throw in a random sort of image, a behind the scenes shot or something that’s happening. But in most cases, I try to keep it all real close together, so when people start watching it, it’s gonna be easy to watch the whole thing. I keep it brief and so I have an intention. I have a focus for what I want to talk about. When I don’t have a focus and intention, I tend to get a little rambly, wordy. You’ve heard those episodes, right? So make sure that you kind of go into it knowing what you want to share.

This is where that entertainment, that personality part, really does meet value in the sense that you are paying attention to what and why you’re sharing something. There’s a reason and intention behind the choice of words when I say, “Have a focus and have an intention.” So really look at what you want to share, why you want to share it, and how you can express that as briefly as and as succinctly as possible. Okay?

This is not the place for us to ramble on for 19 or 20 clips because A, it’s really difficult to talk in segments of 20 seconds or whatever it is. So have a focus. Have an intention and then share it and so it can be a quick tip. It can be a behind the scenes look at something and sometimes, yes, you will have longer stories. If you and your team are sharing behind the scenes of a live event you’re running, that’s gonna be a longer set of stories because it’s gonna be throughout the course of the day or the days that you run that event. That makes sense. However, if I want to kind of give you guys a quick tip about something I’m doing, maybe it’s additional insights to a Facebook or a podcast episode that went out that day or maybe it’s a Facebook Live that I’m doing or maybe I’m promoting a training or maybe I’m talking about a partnership I’ve got going on, I want to find that one thing that I want you to know and I want to give it to you. It’s that simple.

So really let your motto with this be, “Fun meets value,” so that personality meets that focused intention. Cool? All right. That’s all I’ve got for you today.

If you have questions, that absolute best place to ask them is Backstage. So to join us. Remember, we do have that brand new Facebook guide coming out this month. We’re sort of dripping content out now and then next month, we’ve got a ton of Instagram stuff, so if you like this episode and you want more Instagram in your 2018 plans, join at Backstage. Remember, there’s never a long term commitment with Backstage. You stay for as long as you need it. I will say that most of our members come for one thing and stay for a lot of other things. But stay for as long as you need. If you want to come in January and get the Instagram stuff and bounce, that’s up to you. That’s totally cool. There’s no long term commitment, so If you have questions, go to our VIP lounge there. I will see you around Instagram hopefully.

I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye.

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