Hello, hello, friends! I am so excited about discussing this week’s topic with you all… not just because I love Instagram Stories, but because this is the first week where a blog will be supplemented with a PODCAST. That’s right — a podcast. I know you’re screaming right now in excitement [right?] and you’re oh-so-excited to listen; the link is at veeeerry end of this blog post, so if you want it, you’re going to have to read this! Or… scroll to the bottom of the page without reading a single thing at all. Just don’t tell me if you do that, okay?
Today, we’re talking all about Instagram Stories, friends. Not just what they are [c’mon, we all know what they are], but how they’ve quickly evolved to be one of the very most important social media tools we can implement into our routines. In some ways, social media marketers are regarding Stories as its own social media platform because of the vast opportunity they afford us to engage uniquely with our audiences. In this blog post, we’re going to be covering why.
Before we get into the good stuff, I just wanted to reiterate to you guys this is my very first week with a theme or main topic/subject across all of my different content that’s going up. This week’s theme, for example, is Instagram Stories! I would love to know which type of content you’d like to see next from me; it could be anything from “Freelance Social Media Management” to “Graphic Design” to “Forming an Effective Pitch to Brands.” [Hint hint: those are all topics I have scheduled] If there are any other topics you’d love for me to talk about, comment on this post and let me know or message me on any of my social media platforms. I’d love to hear from you!
Okay. Let’s get into it!
Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
Perhaps most importantly, Stories allow for amazing direct engagement with your audience that is truly unparalleled to any other social media networking site out there. The platform smartly utilizes integrated engagement tools, such as Poll Stickers, Quizzes, Question Stickers, and Swipe-up links to allow users to directly connect with their favorite creators. [Not familiar with Engagement Stickers? I’ve got you covered! Read this article about them.]
Instagram actually rewards those who regularly and strategically engage with their audiences by algorithmically favoring those accounts. It’s truly a win-win-win; if you’re not using Instagram Stories to engage with your audience, you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity to build a genuine community, foster close relationships, and engage in thoughtful conversations with your audience. I’ll talk all about how to garner more genuine engagement with your viewers over on my podcast, so be sure to check that out.
Challenge: I challenge you all to ask a question on Stories using the “Question Sticker” this week — your goal is to get at least ten responses, no matter how “big” your audience is [I use this arbitrarily; a “sizable” audience is subjective]. This challenge will require you to ask a question that really invites, or even demands, a response from your viewers.
Instagram Stories are incredible ways to maintain visibility throughout the day; they are, after all, designed to show viewers what your “day to day” experiences look like. Stories are an amazing way to provide content [even if it’s just surface-level; i.e. showing people what you ate for breakfast, where you’re at this evening, or maybe even just a quick selfie] to your audience throughout the day that doesn’t have to be so thought-out, organized, or structured. It can be quick and with little to no effort or thought, if you so choose. This is a great way to remain at the top of your followers’ Stories throughout the day.
In a way, Stories are a way to truly showcase who you are rather than how you present yourself on social media, if that makes sense. On my Stories, I find that it’s a lot easier for me to be candid, and showcase a goofy side of me that doesn’t often come through on edited copy and structured posts.
Have you ever heard of “parasocial interaction?” We actually talked about this phenomenon occasionally in j-school, but mostly in the context of news anchor/audience viewer interaction. Parasocial interaction, or PSI, is defined as “an imaginary relationship, an imaginary friendship, an illusion of face-to-face relationship and an interpersonal interaction between media user and the consumed media.” [Inquiries Journal]
Parasocial interaction is, essentially, the feeling an audience member has for someone like a news anchor, or a YouTube vlogger, or a content creator; this is the feeling that they actually are “friends,” with this person, or that they truly know the person. Talking on video during a Story or even just simply contributing frequently and genuinely with Stories is a great way to establish a strong parasocial interaction with your audience. Stories are, arguably, one of the best ways to do just that. Because the platform allows such candid material, viewers often get the sense that they truly are “in the know” about their favorite creators’ lives. [Continue reading about parasocial interaction by viewing this study or by reading this article by Stephen Elliott]
How Should I Design My Instagram Stories?
Funny you asked that, my friend. This week, I released an IGTV that goes into detail about creating beautiful stories using apps like Canva. You can watch that here.
How Should I Strategically Use Instagram Stories?
Ah, another amazing question that I am so glad you asked! I’ve released a podcast this week all about How to Strategically Use IG Stories to Leverage Engagement. You can listen to that here.
Don’t forget to leave me suggestions for future topics to cover. I’d love to hear what y’all have to say! And let me know if you implement any of these tactics into your social strategy, too.
Okay, okay, don’t think I forgot. My friends, if you’re from the podcast, welcome to the blog! Here are the survey questions I asked over on my Instagram to perform that little focus group we talked about. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should def head over to the podcast so that you are no longer left out. You can totally feel free to use these, or you can create your own version!
- What time do you check Instagram stories? [Quiz poll: In the morning, Throughout the Day, At Night, I Don’t Watch]
- Do you view Stories right away when you log on, or do you scroll through some static posts first?
- What kind of content makes you stay on an Instagram story?
- Do you prefer highly produced content or off-the-cuff material?
- Do you listen to your Stories with the sound on or off?
- Who are creators that create story content you really admire?
- What really irks you about others’ Instagram stories?
- What do you really love about others’ Instagram stories?
- Do you usually watch my Instagram Stories? If not, why not? [Honesty Appreciated!]
- What do you wish to see more of on Stories?
Oh, and, by the way. Here’s my podcast: https://theblogbreakdown.buzzsprout.com