7 Tips for Using Instagram Stories on #bookstagram

Hi all! This is a post in a series of posts called BOOKSTAGRAM 101. I'll be sharing tips, advice, and insights about my experience on bookstagram in these posts. To check out all the posts, click here.

Today, let's chat about Instagram Stories. It seems to me that people either love them, hate them, or tolerate them. I think I solidly fall into the third category. BUT, I think they are an important part of Instagram to use since they are quickly growing to have hundreds of millions of viewers each day.

I’m no expert, but here are some tips that I have found to be helpful as I have used Stories to help grow my page, share additional content, and interact with followers. As with everything on social media, people have different opinions about Stories and how they can be used and that is their right! These are some tips on how I like to use Stories.

01. Use hashtags and location tags

This will help with people discovering your account through hashtags and location stories. I typically use a few hashtags and hide them on the story by either making the text the same color as the background or placing a sticker over top of them. This keeps the Story slide clean but adds them to the Story for the hashtag so that hopefully some new eyes come across my account! I don’t always hide the location tag when I use it because I often find that it’s nice for someone to be able to click the location if they are interested (especially if it’s a bookstore!)

02. Mix it up with some fun designs

There are a TON of apps out there for Stories! It can get totally overwhelming, so I try to stick to a few tried and true ones. I typically edit my photos in VSCO and then either upload them directly to Instagram Stories to use the tools they offer or use a third party app to jazz them up a bit. I also love A Color Story for easy video edits (brighten, filter, etc)

My current favorite for creating collages of photos is Unfold or StoryLuxe. StoryLuxe is really fun and you can get pretty creative, but at the moment I find myself preferring Unfold because they have a finite amount of templates (and they are mostly free!) and you can favorite the ones you use the most so they are easily accessible. They have fun fonts and you can even add some color to the background of the slides. Once you build your slide or story you can preview it and then export it to be uploaded to Instagram. I typically use this when I’m sharing multiple photos so that I can just share them over the course of 3-5 slides instead of sharing each image individually.

If graphic design is more your thing, I highly recommend checking out A Design Kit or Over. They are both fantastic apps for adding fun stickers, design elements, and fonts to your Stories.

03. Always caption your videos

This is so important! If you’re recording a video and sharing it to your Stories, be sure to caption it. A majority of people watch Stories without the sound because of a variety of reasons, so captioning your videos helps keep those people engaged. I don’t always have the time to watch videos all the way through, so if a caption is there it helps me get the gist of what someone is talking about and still be able to engage with them if I’m interested. This is also important so as to be inclusive of folks who may have a hearing disability.

04. Keep it clean and consistent

I’m not sure about you, but Stories can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming to me. There are so many of them! They are constantly changing! To combat this, I like to try to keep my Stories visually clean and minimal. I find myself attracted to Stories when they look clean, consistent, and not spammy. When an account is consistently posting visually overwhelming content I tent to hit the ‘Mute’ button on their Stories because we have to protect our time on Instagram. This doesn’t mean that your images have to be picture perfect, but I like to leave a lot of negative space on the slide and try to use consistent colors in my Stories so that my content is clean and has a consistent feel to it. I know many people feel differently about this or may be attracted to different type of visual content but this is the style I prefer and that I feel matches my feed the best.

05. Make sure your content is relevant

Stories are a great place to share some more ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘in the moment’ content. I like to use it to share book mail, library hauls, when I finish books, bookstore visits, ‘books in the wild’, and tidbits from my daily life. That being said, I try to be intentional with what I’m sharing. I know that most of my followers are sticking around because they like books, so I like to make sure that what I’m sharing in my Stories is usually related to books. Occasionally I share non-book related things, but I try to mostly share those moments on my personal Instagram.

06. Use your highlights to your advantage

Highlights are a great addition to your profile and let people watch Stories for longer than 24 hours. I think of these as fun folders where I can put themed things together. For instance, I have highlights that catalog my 2019 books read, my 5 star reads, Q+A sessions that I’ve done, bookstores I’ve visited, and nail color that I love (that one is a bit off the topic of books but it’s something I started sharing in my Stories occasionally and was getting a lot of positive response to!). Think of some things you share frequently and create a highlight - they are great opportunities for people who visit your profile to see what you are all about. And remember, it’s good to switch them up every once in a while. Creating new ones and archiving others can help keep your profile fresh. Another pro tip - create matching highlight covers to create a cohesive look with your highlights. You can upload a highlight cover directly to the highlight by holding down on the highlight in your profile and then selecting “Edit Highlight” from the menu that pops up.

07. Spread the love

I love to share posts that I loved from the week on Friday to my Stories (#favoritefriday or #followfriday). I think this is such a great way to spread some love and help people discover new accounts. Ultimately, we post on our feeds so that people will hopefully see and resonate with what we’ve shared. Sharing someone’s post to your Stories is a great way to show them some love!

What are your thoughts on Instagram Stories? Do you have any tips or advice to share?


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© 2019 by Michelle Martin