Social media. If it’s not changing every week, it’s at least changing every other week, right? As a blogger and small business owner, I usually write about simple crafts and how to bring more creativity into your life via personal retreats, but today I’m stepping away from those topics to chat about the new kid in town, Instagram Stories. You might have noticed that there are suddenly a bunch of circles at the top of your Home Feed in Instagram. And if you clicked one, you might have seen all sorts of things: a video of a dog sleeping, someone chatting about how this is so much better than Snapchat, a bowl of yarn . . .
So what is Instagram Stories all about?
As many of you know, Facebook owns Instagram and has been slowly implementing some Facebook-like changes across the platform. This has scared some small biz owners, but frankly, I think the changes have been typical of what we’re seeing across the internet in general: if you like and comment on posts/products/etc., you are likely to be shown many more of the same thing. (I remember when we were shopping for baby stuff online and every single page we went to had sidebar ads reminding us how much we actually needed that particular bedding. 🙂)
The reason I mention Facebook is because it highly favors video. My Facebook feed right now is seriously 80% video. So it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that after Facebook Live rolled out (which is similar to other live streaming apps like Periscope), that they would create something for their Instagram app. And that’s where Instagram Stories comes in. Call it the “new Snapchat” or whatever you want, but for right now, it’s here.
How Can Instagram Stories Help My Creative Biz?
There are a few ways that taking the time to create a story will help your business.
- Your customers and followers will get to see a less curated version of you. Because you have to use the app (at this point) to take pictures and video, it is a little more difficult to stage things perfectly. I mean, you can, but that’s not the point of the app. Let’s say you’re an artist. You can show a few shots of your day: a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe something that inspired you, a picture of your latest sketch . . . basically, you’re letting someone peek over your shoulder to see your process. This is a good thing, because . . .
- People respond to people. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell what a business is really like when all we see are the end results of the products. But if your customers can see the work you put into what you make plus the real you going through life, there are bound to be followers who turn into customers.
- You can use Instagram Stories separately from your account. Maybe you update your Instagram feed a few times a week like I do. In those posts, you can share what you’re doing with a clear call to action for your followers to know what to do. For the stories part of Instagram, you can do that every day or in the off days to let them know what you’re up to. I honestly don’t think you have to do it every single day but I’m not a hard core social media maven. I read a post a few days ago that said we all needed to up our Instagram game with stories and post at least 5 times a day plus create a story. I had to go lay down and take a nap after reading that, haha.
Another fun thing about Instagram Stories . . .
I also really like that the stories disappear after 24 hours. This opens up possibilities for flash sales for your most loyal followers, a day of encouraging quotes that are specific for that moment, and basically, just playing with the app and learning without having to stress that it’s out there Forever.
A Word of Caution
I’m all for being honest and not acting like you’re someone that you’re not but with the advent of live video and apps like Snapchat and now Instagram Stories, there can be a tendency to think we all want to see each other’s junk. Does that sound awful? Please hear me out. If you’ve worked hard to build a brand, you can actually really hurt yourself by being “too honest”. Here’s an example: let’s say you’re an Etsy shop owner who makes boutique-style dresses for little girls. Your brand is geared toward those who have a higher income and who are willing to spend top dollar on their princess. You likely have beautiful photography on your Etsy shop and website and clear language that evokes a feeling of quality.
Your friends are all using Instagram Stories so you hop on and start posting photos and videos of your studio that is a tornado, last night’s dishes, and the dog sleeping on a bolt of fabric. You might think this is the real you so you might as well share, but your customers might be a bit horrified. So, definitely consider your brand and what you’re trying to communicate to your audience before you start posting away. This, of course, goes for any social media platform!
One Last Thought
For those of you who are just starting out with a new creative or online business (and this includes blogging/freelancing, etc.), you might notice as you use this platform and start sharing more of who you are that some people drop off and stop following you. When you have a small following to start with, this can be really hard. Ask yourself, “Is this the image I want to project for my company? Is this who I am?” If your answer is yes, then just realize those people were not your people to begin with. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better to have a small highly devoted following than a huge following that could care less about all of your hard work!