How to Up Your Story Content Game

Instagram Story tutorialist and guru, Sanya Zaman, shares why Stories are the most engaging format, the most effective in-app Story features, and how to engage your audience through an increasingly important medium on social media.

Stories > Posts

Q: In your bio, you state “stories > posts.” Why is that?

Sanya:

Social networks are about creating connections. Instagram Stories currently have 600 million daily active users and growing, making it one of the biggest social opportunities to utilize. As the name suggests, Instagram Story is a great platform to become a storyteller. Stories for me have been very engaging and have received a lot of comments from my audience…appreciating my effort on the content [I make].

With so many algorithm changes and engagement plummeting on regular posts, Instagram Stories give more opportunities to engage with followers and reach a larger audience. Posts on the other hand can go unnoticed sometimes. It’s suspected that the Instagram algorithm works differently depending on engagement and your posts might not show up. In fact, many people post on [their] [Stories] to [announce] a new post [to their feed]. 

Experience Real-Time Authenticity

Q: Your top tips for making engaging IG Story content?

Sanya:

Be You, Unapologetically

Imperfect is perfect. I read a book on marketing back in school [called] The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells (and How to Do It Right). One of the key [takeaways]… was to show your own true self unapologetically. Stories are a creative tool [to] let go of perfectionism with a mindset of “It’s done. It’s only gonna live till tomorrow.” 

[Stories also provide] a way for you to become closer with your audience, especially when you’re talking to… a camera right in your face. The vertical video feels real and honest in a way that a lot of other videos don’t. Your Instagram Stories don’t have to be as polished as in-feed content. In fact, the ad-hoc, “let’s stop getting polite and start getting real” nature of the Instagram Stories feature is a huge part of its appeal for Instagram users weary of glossy visuals and impossibly perfect lifestyle shots. 

Facilitate Deeper Conversations

Addressing social, political, [and environmental] issues is another way to engage people and get their views. [It] gives you a lot of opportunity to interact with your audience in new and exciting ways, spreading awareness about initiatives and…organisations…outside of Instagram.

In the past one year, I have had so many constructive discussions and debates on very relatable, current topics, and I am proud of who I am becoming as a human through these conversations. Voicing your views is even easier now with disposable content on social media. The power of content is that you can change somebody’s life by changing their perspective. 

Explore All Story Tools

Q1: What are the key tools you use to create Stories? Why are they effective?

Sanya:

To make Story content more interesting, I usually add GIF stickers, text overlays, filters, frames, collages, and witty quotes [to name a few]. [In particular,] GIFs are [a] big trend these days [because] they are cute, and say a lot without using words.

Interactive features such as polls, quizzes, and question stickers [are also great tools]. I really like [them] because you not only get engagement from your audience when they reply, but you can also learn really valuable information from them depending on what you asked. It’s the best way to know what your audience is thinking, and a good way to strike up conversation and increase your engagement. The countdown feature is also very powerful because it instills urgency in your viewer.

Avoid Story Pitfalls

Deviate from Common Mistakes

Q: What are the common mistakes/pitfalls of Story content creation?

Sanya:

There are no rules in the creative world, however, there are few technicalities to keep in mind:

Misplacing Clickable Links. One of the major mistakes I have noticed on IG is not placing clickable Story links correctly. Try not to place your links too high or too low on your screen, people can actually not click it if it’s in that area. People will either not see the link or avoid taking the extra effort to reach it with their thumb

Not using Geotags and Hashtags. You should always include a geo location and at least 1 hashtag on each Story to increase your reach. 

Miniature Hashtags. While we are trying to make our Stories aesthetically pleasing, we tend to shrink hashtags to very small sizes. However, Instagram doesn’t recognize miniature hashtags, and they go unnoticed. Instead, try hiding them behind a sticker or color matching it [to the background].

Misplacing Poll Feature. If you place [the polling feature] too large and close to the right side of your screen, then you are probably going to get skewed results. Bottom right is where people are clicking past and they might accidentally click on the poll. Polls are generally placed a little left to the screen and a bit smaller for best results.

Keep it Simple, but Interesting

Q: How do you keep your Story content new and exciting?

Sanya:

Beauty is everywhere and I am a big believer of it. Appreciating little things and showing a different, yet positive perspective of daily life gives my audience something to look forward to. If I am out on a walk I will take pictures of the street or flowers by the road, show my audience what my surroundings look like. Also, doing reviews of cafes in town, workout routines, recipes, and bit of fashion content keeps it exciting. Having the ability to travel frequently definitely helps me put out new content as well. 

Evoke Emotion

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?

Sanya:

The power of content relies on the emotion it evokes. Emotion is translated by a variation of symbols, words, and even sounds that, when well executed, are able to convey your message to the audience. While creating content, I always keep in mind to give something valuable to my audience. Recently, I have started making Story tutorials… and have received positive feedback about it…because people could learn… from it and [make their own creative and wonderful content].

Personally, Instagram is a journal for me [that I share] with my friends. While spending time on social media, [we often compare] ourselves to others, and it’s having an impact on our mental health. Let’s not forget to have fun, take it easy and keep it stylish.

 

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