Top 10 Instagram Stories Do's and Don'ts for Businesses

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1. Don’t use too old of a phone.

I know we shouldn’t even have to list this one out (and at the top of the list at that!), but, unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. You’d be surprised, but so many people who use stories mess it up because the quality of the phone and camera they are using to shoot the story is old or inefficient. We get it. Most everyone is rocking an iPhone or similar droid device with 4K cameras at their fingertips. However, there is still a good percentage of the population trying to spend less. Therefore, they use older iPhones and even older droid devices that cannot keep up anymore for photo and video quality.

2. Make sure you run a quick test of the story before running a live story.

We often see stories that look good but could go a long way if there was more planning. Scripted, you say? Well, yes. In a way, anyway. Maybe scripted isn’t the right word for it. How about tested? The idea of stories on Instagram is to captivate and capture your audience, and therefore make them want to stop in or visit your online store. You want to put in a little bit of time when it comes to planning out the type of story that you wish to portray or the kind of emotion you want to invoke.

Let’s say you have a new product you want to introduce. Rather than playing guessing games about whether the story looks good or not or is shot at the right angle, shoot the story first and save it to your phone and then test your message or story first by sending the story to one person first, someone you can check. You can select who to share a story with just before you click send to or share.

Once you know the story looks ready, go ahead and push the story out en masse if you would like to.

3. Don’t forget to adjust for peripheral views and shots of things and features you want to include.

Often we see stories that are trying to capture a message or a feeling, but they miss the mark at the cutoff time or don’t get the object within their frame within time. Sometimes they reach their intended point at 16 or 18 seconds when it’s too late because IG story rolls cut out at 15 seconds. We know stories are short. So you want to time it right and get to your point or what you want to show within the first 5 – 7 seconds. Be sure that each item you want to capture or each message you wish to convey captures everything within view or peripheral, so your audience doesn’t have to squint too hard or try to make out what you were trying to show them.

4. Do not include items in the background that you don’t want to appear in your story.

Ever look at a family friend’s photo to find something embarrassing or unintended to show up in their frame? Yes, yes, this happens so much, and stories on Instagram are not immune. So, please bear in mind where you want to shoot. Also, keep in mind that the camera lens on many phones extends well beyond what most of us generally think it does. So if you don’t want your undies popping up in the frame, clear the show and make sure you shoot what you want to show up within your story.

5. Don’t appear unnatural or inauthentic. There’s nothing that people can’t stand more than fake and phony anything. By anything, nothing is off the table. This ‘truth’ is primarily for content, people, imagery stories, videos, branding, messaging, or digital marketing.

Trust us. People are not dumb. They can spot a phony person, brand, or company from a mile away. This reason is why you have to be authentic, honest, and genuine. Spend time working on your brand and your image because it is essential, and people spend time with brands and companies that are real. By authentic, we don’t mean “giant” or  “big,” we expect personal, authentic quality and characters, people, and searchable facts that check out and can be unequivocally confirmed. Use caution. Everything digital stays around for the most part.

6. Do make sure you include hashtags in your stories where needed.

We see this one get missed a lot, especially by businesses. Just because it’s a story, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t searchable. And why not help people find your story? This, my friend, is where hashtags on stories come into play. Why not? When people search for locations, hashtags on IG are looking for stories that match the thing they are looking for. You will want your business to slide into their search results. This is a great way to get new brand exposure.

7. Don’t forget about when to push your story for maximum engagement.

Just like regular feed posts, stories have a lifespan (or shelflife). You will want to keep track of when your audience engages with your stories the most. Use insights and story analytics to track when and how often engagement happens on each story and when the highest viewership occurs.

If you are trying to catch an audience on the other side of the world while you are awake, you will want to keep time differences in mind before you post a story. Remember that stories stay up for 24 hours generally (unless highlighted). 

8. Include humor and happy moments, as well as times where you can involve your audience.

People love to see stories that are warm, happy, funny, and humorous. How would they know this? Simple people who like to make others laugh or even crack a smile are generally good. This reason is why it is essential to show that you have both a human and humorous side.

Suppose you are having a hard time coming up with ideas. In that case, consider blooper-style rolls, short funny, comic moments, and catching a hilarious reaction that is timed well can go a very long way to drive up the popularity of your story.

A great way to get engagement is to get your audience involved. Successful businesses know to let their audience in on the “planning” of their business. There’s no better way to get your customer excited about your products than allowing them to have a sayso in the design, release, or, frankly, any part of the process.

When people impart influence, they feel they’ve done their fair share. When audiences get involved, they are likelier to let their friends and family know about what they are “involved with” as well.

9. Don’t just upload a bunch of pictures as stories.

We see many businesses use the “type” feature or take a stock photo and apply it to their feed as a story. This approach does not help companies when using stories, even though this feature is allowed.

Suppose you are having specials and trying to get the message for an event out. In that case, it may be acceptable once in a while to post a photo or text to your story feed, but you will want to use the special storytime and space for valuable and captivating content as much as possible.

10. Do keep in mind what your audience wants to see from you.

Consistency with your brand and image is crucial. Just because it is a short roll you are posting doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be branded and creative. Specifically tailored stories and personal stories capture audiences more than any other type of story. The best IG stories are the ones that look natural and pop into people’s feeds as if the story is coming from someone they know or are already used to (like a close friend or family member). Remember, make them personal, personable, and friendly to the person or audience you are pushing them to.

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