Remember when Instagram first came out and you couldn’t wait to test out all those crazy filters it came with? When the logo was a very hipster looking tan camera and everything about it felt very new, hip, and exciting?
Nowadays, we kind of take Instagram for granted. We open it when we’re standing in line at the grocery store, we know our favorite go-to filters and use them with ease instead of excitedly flipping through to see what your photo looks like in 10 different filters. We post everything on there and as a result, IG has become one of the most popular platforms, making it an incredible place to reach your target audience.
But as IG and all of social media have evolved, we’ve been introduced to an entirely new way to experience the platform: Instagram Stories. Although Stories have been out for a couple years, there’s still a little bit of mystery behind how exactly to best use them for expanding your reach and connecting with your fans.
Today, we’re hoping to de-mystify some of that and help you make the most of Stories, and connect with your fans in a new way that’s actually *gasp* fun!
For this article, we’re assuming most of you have a firm grasp on what IG Stories are, but just aren’t quite sure how to use it.
As a quick rundown for those just getting started, IG stories are quick little glimpses of your life that live for 24 hours in the “Stories” part of your IG. You know when you log in and see all of your friend’s profile photos in little circles at the top? Those are their Stories, and they’ll live on for 24 hours. This makes them perfect for less polished, but just as worthy ways to connect.
Watch other Stories for Inspiration
Sometimes, the simplest way to know what you want to do more of and what you want to do less of, is just to watch someone else you admire doing the same thing. So one of the first things I want to suggest is to simply watch other people’s stories en mass, so you can get a feel for how they’re used. Sometimes it really is better to show, not tell.
I encourage you to follow indie artists you love as well as nationally known artists, because the type of content and frequency is likely going to be totally different between the two. In fact, I’d even encourage you to follow brands and people that aren’t musicians or in the industry, just to get outside inspiration.
Find inspiration and ideas in the stories they’re posting, and then, start applying it to your own.
What story do you want to tell?
Forgive the wording here, but the first thing to ask yourself is what exactly do you want your fans to get out of this? I know a lot of you might be thinking “I have no idea!” and that’s ok—hopefully some of that comes to you through the above exercise. But know that like anything, a lot of the clarity is going to come from simply doing it and learning via trial and error. You can’t research your way into comfort on this—you have to actually put it into practice.
For the time being, try to get clear on what it is you’d like to convey. Remember that there are a lot of ways to do this. For instance, you can promote an upcoming event (more on that below) or have a series of behind the scenes videos and photos. Or, you can just post random content throughout the day so your fans can get a sense of who you are and what you’re all about. If one day you have a 15 second clip of you freestyling in the car, followed by a snazzy, stickered photo of your adorable dog, and then another of the band at practice, that’s totally ok!
The point of Stories is really just to give people a quick, unpolished look into your life. So while there are opportunities to use Stories to promote certain events or agendas, their main goal really is to be a source of connection for your audience. And the more they feel like they know you through all these mini stories you tell, the stronger the connection.
Use them to promote your next event
IG stories are a great way to promote your upcoming events, and to do it in a way that isn’t full of sales language or tactics. I would encourage a mix of quick videos of you talking about the show/tour/etc and why you’re excited/how cool it’s going to be and to do it in a way that’s not just you sitting against a white wall talking into the camera. Go outside and record it at the park, or against a colorful backdrop, or invite your bandmates in. Then, mix it in with a graphic of the show and throw on some of those fun stickers and gifs that make Stories so great. Add the name, date, and location of the show, and a hashtag if it’s a really big event.
Make the most of its features
One of the coolest things about IG Stories is all the features it offers. All the stickers, filters, gifs, music—that’s what makes it interesting to both create and view, so take some time to get to know the different ways you can make your Stories compelling and have some fun with it!
Just get out there and do it
At the end of the day, you can spend hours, weeks, months researching, waiting for the perfect thing to post. But in the meantime, you’re losing a lot of valuable connectivity time. As someone who suffers from the desire to research everything to death, there’s a lot of power (and yeah, some fear too!) in deciding a cut off date for your research and then just going all in.
So do your research, keep watching your friends’ Stories to get inspired, but at some point you have to just dive in there and post your own, and see what’s sticking.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more, as well as the Director of Community and Events for Music Launch Co. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.