Picture: Instagram

This year Instagram announced that 500 million people now use its Stories function every day. 

In August, the Lifestyle Team attended an Instagram workshop where we learnt the tricks of the trade and engaged with all the creative tools to help people, brands and influencers make the most of their InstaStories and engage more meaningfully with followers and fans.

Here’s how you can make your InstaStories more enticing for your followers:

Get your post seen beyond your inner circle of followers

Tag your location and use relevant hashtags. If you’re visiting a place that has an Instagram page, tag them in the picture, they’ll appreciate the gesture and might even re-share the picture on their own page or story.  For the record, #Love is the most used hashtag in South Africa and the world, and the most hashtagged location in SA is #CapeTown. 

However, don’t use too many hashtags. Abusing the purpose of hashtags by over tagging your picture with irrelevant hashtags (whether it’s in your feed or stories) is in violation of Instagram’s T&C’s. Doing so can get your account taken down or suspended. 

Remember the aim of Instagram

There’s a reason Instagram is so popular (and the third most used social media app in the world). It’s deeply meaningful to people and its main objective is to bring people closer to the things you love. This should be reflected in your stories. Since it’s not as formal as your feed, it’s the best place to let your personality shine through so don’t hold back. 

Think about your space and how to use it

The layout for Instagram stories is vertical. When capturing moments on your camera, consider the fact that when people watch videos on their cell phone, they're holding their device vertically. Therefore, if you post pictures that are horizontal, they will show up the wrong way around. Similarly, if you post a horizontally filmed video, you’ll be compromising on the layout - it will appear much smaller in order to fit within the vertical space. People tapping through stories won’t necessarily take the time to turn their phones the right way around just to view your video. So, if you really want to get your content seen and ensure people don’t just quickly tap through your story make sure it is designed to be easily consumed. 

Use external apps to spice up your stories

Generally, Instagram Stories templates are pre-designed layouts with different graphics, text, or animations to choose from that you can use to enhance your stories. By using templates with a common theme, you can create cohesive, on-brand stories that align with your social media image as a whole.

Be creative

From emojis and gifs to questions and polls there are so many exciting ways to get creative and produce content that is engaging for your followers with your content. Spend a bit of time getting familiar with the tools, playing around with them and seeing how you can use them to enhance your stories.

One example we learnt about is ‘sticker pinning’. This feature allows users to place a sticker (emoji or gif) in a specific location of a video so that it will stay in that exact spot throughout.

Here’s how: Start by filming a video on Instagram. Then click on the “Sticker” tool which appears on the top right-hand side of your screen (it’s the icon that looks like a sticky note with a smiley face on it). A tab will pop up with a variety of different tools, scroll past them to find the stickers. From here you can select your sticker and even search for a specific sticker that will fit your story. Once you have selected your ideal sticker, it will appear on the video. Move the sticker to the desired location by dragging it around using your finger. By pinching two fingers together or moving them apart, you can shrink or enlarge the sticker to suit your preference. Once you tap and hold down on the sticker, a video timeline will appear at the bottom of the screen; use the knob to scroll forwards and backwards through the video to find the perfect place to pin your sticker, and tap "pin" when you are happy with your selection. Finally, post the video to your story to see it go live.

If you have more than 10 000 followers

Hitting the 10k follower milestone opens up new doors as far as InstaStories go. In Instagram’s eyes, you’ve just reached influencer status and now have access to the “swipe up” feature. This tool allows you to embed links into your story and when your followers perform the “swipe up” motion they will be redirected to a website of your choice. Businesses and brands can send people to any page on their website for example and YouTubers and send people to their latest video. 

The aim here is to get people to “swipe up”, leave the app and visit the desired webpage. Fortunately, Instagram has tonnes of cool tools that can be used to get people to do so. From simply filming a video and engaging with your followers, asking them to swipe up to using the array of gifs with the words “swipe up” and a finger doing the “swipe up motion”. Figure out what works best with your target audience and explore the Stories app to find new ways to amplify and enhance your message.