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The Story with Stories

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For staff at more established organizations and businesses, Instagram Stories may seem like just another feature on a platform you’re already not sure how to handle. But just as its name suggests, Stories can be a powerful tool for helping your target audiences get to know your organization. Here are six tips to help you harness the full power of Stories to tell a coherent brand narrative on Instagram.

Go multimedia. One of the best aspects of Stories is the room it gives for every type of digital content. From still photos and plain text to video and special features like Boomerang and Superzoom, there are so many ways to capture and share vignettes about your organization. That richness breathes life into an otherwise flat, two-dimensional gallery. And taking advantage of the full range provides just the right amount of undulation to make followers feel like they’re right there with you, living your brand! So play around with the different options and you’ll have a feed that’s never boring.

Let the narrative unfold. While there’s nothing wrong with a great stand-alone Story, it’s commonplace to upload Stories in a series — a group of 3-6 connected Stories about a single topic. It’s the perfect framework for your dramatic structure. Think about how you can break up your message into a few pieces, and craft each one in a way that leads into the next. One trick is to keep building content on the same image base by posting a Story, saving it, then uploading it again and building on that. Or if you want to post a video that is longer than the 15-second Story cap, use a third party tool, like CutStory, to break it up at key moments. And always remember to end with a specific call to action — once your followers have been on this mini journey with you, they’ll be more likely to do what you ask.

Build relationships. In a good story, relationships define the main characters and it’s no different for your brand. Stories are a great place to highlight your clients, partners, and friends on Instagram. You can do this by crafting your own Stories about them and tagging them using text or the mention sticker. You can also share some of their posts and Stories to your own feed! To share a post from their Gallery, just tap the arrow below the post and choose Add Post to Your Story. To add one of their Stories to your own, just screenshot it and upload. In both cases, don’t forget to mention the original poster and add a little something of your own. And, of course, be sure to share any Stories in which others mention you. You’ll be automatically notified in your Direct Messages, so all you have to do is tap Add to Your Story.

Give them the highlights. Instagram Stories are ephemeral, lasting only 24 hours. This has a big upside in that it allows you to showcase fun moments that are less produced also but not meant to kept for posterity. But it doesn’t have to mean your best stuff is also lost to the ages. You can save and categorize your favorite stories under Highlights. This is a really effective way for someone new to your feed to get a quick snapshot of who you are. Think through the categories you want to create — you can think of them as mini collections — and name them in ways that beg to be clicked. And, as with your entire digital presence, it’s important that your highlights are on-brand, so don’t neglect those cover images.

*Quick tip: we love Later’s IG Stories feature to accomplish this with ease. More info here.

Copy the masters. All authors study some of the greats before writing their own Magnum Opus, and you should too! Find a few organizations similar to yours that are successful on the platform and spend a bit of time analyzing what they are doing well — then go out and use those findings in service of your own Stories. Note the type of content they highlight, how they break it up, the tone they take, the visuals they use, and the little details that make them interesting. A few feeds that we think really get Stories right are The Lily News, The Holocaust Museum, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sam Ushiro.

Analyze your feed. At the end of the day, the best feedback and advice will come from your own followers. Your account administrators will be able to see how many people viewed your Stories, how many clicked through all of them, how many clicked away, and at which point in the series they left. These are important sources of information that you should track and analyze. What caused followers to leave at a certain point? Could there have been a more compelling way to present the same idea? Stories (and most of that data) are also archived, so it’s a good idea to schedule periodic reviews. With space and time, you can look back more objectively at your cumulative work and get a fresh perspective on what you should do less of and what you should build upon.

Above all, have fun with the Stories. It’s a tool that invites its users to unleash their creativity and and in so doing, establish new ways to connect to followers and bring them into their fold. And what organization doesn’t want more of that?

*Quick tip: Later does a great job of organizing analytics from IG Stories. Dive in!

*We love lots of tools, really. But when it comes to IG Stories, we just can’t get enough of the Later goodness. (This post isn’t sponsored.)

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