It’s been a few months since Instagram has rolled out Instagram Stories and Instagram Live- and let me tell you…these new features are liquid gold!
Instagram has given us two of the most powerful ways to connect with our audience:
- The ability to connect with our audience on a personal level (Instagram stories)
- The ability to talk to our audience in real time (Instagram LIVE)
What is the difference between Instagram Stories and Instagram LIVE?
Currently, Instagram allows you to share stories with your audience in snippets of pictures or or in 15 second video clips. Your “story” shows up as series of posts that users can click through. To access your story, your followers can either tap your profile picture or they can see stories at the top of their newsfeed.
Here’s why stories are so great:
- Instagram stories, like posts, also show up in the Explore tab. This means your story has the ability to reach beyond your existing followers! Now think withe me for a moment. If you highlight a sale on in your Instagram story you could multiply your exposure for FREE!
- Instagram stories can be pre-recorded. If you’re shy in front of the camera then you can practice your recording until you get it perfect and then upload it to share with the world.
- Instagram stories allow you to SHARE without OVERSHARING. What do I mean? If you post pictures of you having coffee with a colleague, screenshots of your current project and your a your playlist you may be listening to while working– all of that is perfectly acceptable! Stories are meant for you to share up-close and personal accounts. It’s really NOT about being scripted, the way your Instagram newsfeed may be.
- Stories only last 24 hours. If you have a story that you weren’t very excited about, it’s ok because it will come down in a day. However, if you loved the story or want to it to get more exposure you can save it and repost it again.
- There is no limit to the number of stories you can post in a day. Similar to your Instagram feed, you can post as many stories as you want. However, you should know that when you post a lot of snippets, the first snippet in your Instagram Story will get the most views so make it count.
How to Share an Instagram Story:
- Tap in the top left of your screen or swipe right from anywhere in Feed.
- Tap at the bottom of the screen to take a photo, or tap and hold to record a video. You can also tap Boomerang at the bottom of the screen, then tap the circle to take a burst of photos that loops forward and backward.
- You can tap or to add text or draw on your story. Tap Undo to remove an effect or Done to save it.
- You can tap Cancel to discard your photo or video, or to save it to your phone. When you’re done, tap Your Story to share to your story.
When to and When Not to Use Stories
As you can tell, I absolutely love Instagram Stories. It helps businesses and brands be seen as “real people” to their customers. However, there are some best practices for using stories and then there are “no-nos”.
- Do share updates via pictures or video about your brand, product or services
- Do use video to show processes or products in greater details
- Do highlight your customer testimonials in your stories (Instagram will send them a notification that you mentioned them…and they will LOVE that)
- Don’t upload a clip just because! Make it count and make it worthwhile. Don’t just use it to show what you cooked for dinner or a picture of your dog. Always connect it back to your brand story.
- Don’t use too many stickers and highlighting. Instagram has given you the option to use these features to highlight something important. However, if you add too much, you will distract your audience from what you’re trying to show them.
- Don’t just post the same content in your stories as the content on your page– make sure you’re adding something different (a teaser, a behind the scenes look, or a call to action).
Instagram LIVE is also one of the best features that Instagram has rolled out. Similar to Facebook Live, it’s a great way to connect with people real time. Unlike an Instagram Story, you do not have the option to upload pre-recorded material. It has to be LIVE 🙂 One of the best things is that once you go life your followers will be notified and they can opt into your video.
Here’s why Instagram LIVE is so great:
- You can get feedback from your audience on anything by hosting a Live Q&A session. This is perfect if you’re thinking about your next product and want to gauge interest initially.
- You can use LIVE to offer a product demo, a class or do a tutorial.
You can share a live video to connect with your followers in real time. Once a live video has ended, it’s no longer visible on Instagram.
How to Start an Instagram LIVE video:
- Tap in the top left of the screen or swipe right from anywhere in Feed.
- Tap Live at the bottom of the screen, then tap Start Live Video. Your followers may be notified when you start a live video.
- The number of viewers appears in the top right of the screen, and comments appear at the bottom. Tap Comment to add a comment, and tap and hold a comment to pin it to the top so that viewers can see it more easily.
- To turn comments off, tap then select Turn Off Commenting. Keep in mind that any keyword filters you’ve turned on will also apply to comments on your live video.
- When you’re done, tap End in the top right then tap to confirm.
When to and When Not to Use Live
Instagram LIVE should be used to teach something, show a behind the scenes look or to engage with your audience. However, here are a few ways that you should avoid using LIVE:
- Do let people know that you’ll be live ahead of time. It’s a good practice to notify your audience 12hrs -24 hrs in advance so they can be sure to tune in.
- Do be real! It’s ok if you don’t have your hair perfect or look like you’re ready to go to a photoshoot. Your audience will just happy to see you.
- Do engage and address questions or comments- but you don’t have to address every single statement.
- Don’t address the negative comments (haters). I’ve seen people spend their whole live feed talking back to someone who was making negative comments. My advice is not to waste your time– focus on the people who genuinely want to engage with you.
- Don’t just prop the camera up and walk away. People love it when you talk directly to them. If you don’t want to engage then post the content as a video on your page instead.
- Don’t showcase anything inappropriate, illegal or anything that could damage your reputation. If it doesn’t enhance your brand/business, don’t show it!
If you spend time now, taking advantage of these features they will pay dividends for your brand/business in the future.