Become a master of Instagram Stories and Instagram Channels

Introduction

Instagram stories appear on your Instagram account and then are removed after 24 hours.  Many users like this feature, as it is a wonderful way to make new relationships with others.  One of the main reasons for this is because it keeps you up on top.  Instagram stories allow you to be seen more, which means you can engage more with your followers.  And stories are perfect for those that never know when the best time to post is.  It does not matter because, for 24 straight hours, this story is on your Instagram.

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Instagram stories are great for a business to really showcase their brand.  There are many different kinds of stories that a business can do to let others know about their products.  A story can be product promotion, or the business can let the users see an inside glimpse of the business.  A story can offer a contest or competition that deals with products or be a how-to on using the brand.  There is a multitude of ways that a brand can use Instagram stories to advertise their products.

In this article, we will discuss what an Instagram story is, and how you can feature it.  We will delve into story settings and archives, and then switch over to talking about “live stories”. Tips and tricks for IG stories will be offered to make the most from your stories.   From there, we will switch gears and discuss Instagram channels, how to set up your own channel and talk about story savers and how to use them.

Instagram stories

As stated above, an Instagram story will appear for 24 hours before being automatically deleted from your account.  Stories are short videos that are up to 15 seconds long, and essentially can be posted at any time of the day.  Spacing your stories out will ensure that you always have fresh content for your followers to view, which can help to engage them more!

Instagram stories should have a video or photo aspect of 9:16.  The video or photo size should be limited to 1080 X 1920 while the maximum video length should be 15 seconds.  

Now you may be asking what you should be posting when you do an Instagram story.  Really there is not a right or a wrong answer.  You have to find what works for you and your brand.  However, you should take note that you should not be posting continuously.  One great thing about stories is that they allow your followers to see things that might not be possible with just regular postings.  You can really take them behind the scenes of your brand or business.  An example of this might be if you have an Instagram account dedicated to beauty, you could take your followers behind the scenes prior to doing your makeup look for the day.  If you are a bakery, you could post a story about cupcake decorating.

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How to feature a story

Posting an Instagram story is pretty simple to do.  First off, begin by opening the IG app.  Go to the upper left-hand corner, and tap on the camera icon.  From there, you will decide on what type of story you will be uploading.  You can pick from Live, Boomerang, Type, Rewind, Normal, Superzoom, Stop Motion, or Hands-free.  Once you have picked the type of content you wish to add, click on the white circle at the bottom of the page to take a picture.  If you desire to do a video, you simply hold the white button.

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After you have taken the image or shot the video, you can edit them if you desire.  Once you are finished, you will tap on the “done” button, which will save your story.  Once you are ready to share your IG story, you will tap on the “add your story” button.

Story settings

You can allow your followers to share your stories in the story settings section. Simply go to your profile page, click on the gear icon, then go to story settings.  Hit “allow sharing”, which will enable your followers to share your Instagram stories with their friends.

You may also add a poll to your story.  To access this, you will need to tap on the stickers icon, then go to the “polls” sticker.  Here you will be able to add a question with two choices.  As soon as you have added the poll, your followers will be able to cast their opinion.  One example of this might be if you posted a story about you with your morning cup of Joe, you may ask a poll “What is your favorite coffee?” with the option to answer “piping hot” or “iced coffee”.

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You may also hide stories from people you do not want seeing them.  To hide a story, you will go to the upper right side of the screen.  Tap on the three dots (on an Android) or the sun symbol (on iOS) and select “story settings” then “hide story from”.  Select who you desire from the list then select “done”.

If you would like to check and see how many people are viewing your story, you can easily do this.  On your home screen, tap on the upper left-hand corner where it says Your Story.  Here you will then go to the left-hand bottom corner of the story to see a count of how many individuals have viewed your story.  You can swipe up to see everyone who has viewed it.  However, you only have 24 hours to see who has all viewed your story.  

Story Archives

Just because stories disappear from your Instagram does not mean that you have to lose them forever.  You can archive them for just you to see.  In the settings area, you are able to turn on the “auto-archive” feature, which will mean every Instagram story posted will be saved for you.  This is a great feature as then you will not be required to save them on your phone.

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Live stories

Live stories are a great feature on Instagram. This is a real-time video played as you record it.  With live stories, your followers will have the opportunity to send comments that will appear with the video.  Any of the comments posted will be seen by anyone watching the live story.  What is more is that you will see them as they appear, giving you the chance to respond back.  This is a very valuable tool for business owners who use Instagram.  It really allows you to interact with your potential customers.  This is the perfect time for you to address the needs of your clients by allowing them to ask you questions that perhaps you never even thought of.

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Tips and tricks for Instagram stories

The following are some tips and tricks to get the most out of posing an Instagram story.

  1. Use stickers!  There are many fun stickers to make your story more personalized and memorable!  They can be applied by clicking on the sticker icon on the upper right-hand corner of your screen.  These stickers can be applied wherever you desire in your story.  And they can be made larger if need be or smaller.  It is completely up to you!  One really great feature of these stickers is that Instagram often adds new ones that are unique.  They might be for an upcoming season or just because.  Look often, because you never know what you will find.
  2. Speaking of stickers, consider adding a question sticker to your IG story.  This feature allows your followers to really become interactive with you.  They ask you a question about your brand, and you can then respond back with an answer.  This new feature is a great way to get feedback on your brand, and also gets others talking about your products.
  3. Allow your followers to share your Instagram stories through a direct message with their friends.  If you allow them to do this, it means more engagement for you, which is something that most of us aim for.
  4. Tag another IG account in your story.  You can tag up to 10 in each story you post.  Whoever you tag will receive a notification of your story.  I know that when I am tagged in something, it really piques my interest and makes me want to see what the story is.  Just another great way to get others to see your IG story. Plus, statistics have shown that those that add another IG account to their stories increase their engagement by over 50%.
  5. Add hashtags to your story.  IG allows the user to add up to 10 per story.  However, it is not a good idea to use that many. Using only a few are best.  Many are surprised to know that just by doing this, you can increase engagement by over 12%.  And that is with only one hashtag.  Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per story.  Adding hashtags will allow your brand more exposure.   To add a hashtag, tap on the folded smiley icon located at the top of the screen.  Here you will be able to tap on the #HASHTAG sticker.  Type in what you desire and then click enter.  You can easily change the color by tapping on it.  You may also drag it or pinch it to change the size or location.                                                                                                                     
  6. Add your location.  Adding your location to your Instagram stories will allow in almost an 80% increase in engagement.
  7. Get creative and add some music!  I mean, who does not like to listen to something when they are watching a story.  Just make sure that the sound icon is on, so your followers can enjoy the music as well.
  8. Most IG users (94%) hold their phones in a vertical position.  Keep this in mind when uploading a video.  It is best to keep the ratio at 9:16.
  9. Add a link.  This is a new feature that we are going gaga over!  Before, you could only add a link in your bio. Now, you are able to add a link within your posts, driving more traffic to your page.
  10. Consider creating a list.  Many love a good list that is well organized.  Have you visited many amusement parks?  Traveled to different wineries?  Spent many afternoons at museums?  Create a list, such as the Top Ten Amusement parks of all time, The Best Wineries of the West, or The Greatest Museums to Spend a Day At.  People will love seeing the images, and hearing your opinion of these places.                                                                  
  11. Breaking news is a hit for IG stories!  If your brand has a big announcement or you can share other information to keep your clients in the know, the better.  People like to know up to date information, so providing this via an IG story is completely acceptable.
  12. Be consistent.  Consistency is the key for so much, and for IG is it no different.  Your brand should have its own feel and voice, as well as its own look.  Be consistent with those things at all times. 
  13. Add a poll.  This is a great feature that will allow your story to get some maximum interaction. When you allow others to interact with your IG, it will help you get some insight from your audience.  Plus it can make them feel like they are a part of the brand.  
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Instagram channels

One relatively new feature on Instagram is Instagram Channels.  The concept is similar to youtube, where a video can relay the information you wish to convey.  This feature will allow you to pick what topic you wish to see, and only the best of that content niche will be shown.  Unlike IG stories, which have a time limit of 15 seconds, IG channels have a longer time limit of up to one hour, as long as you are a large and verified account.  If your account is not large or verified, you will be able to upload a ten-minute video.  If you want to upload a video this long, you will need an Instagram channel.  You are allowed one channel per IG account.

Something many love about this feature is that you do not have to follow users to see what they have posted.  Plus it makes it so much easier for businesses to connect with others that have an interest in their brand.  This makes it very easy to navigate on Instagram.   You will be able to see topics once you open the “explore” page.  There will be many different topics for you to pick from, such as Art, Travel, humor, decor, fitness, sports, and much more.  Select which topic you desire, then decide if you want to click on the “posts that are featured on the topic channel” or “related hashtags”.

Speaking of related hashtags, these are a wonderful way to get others to see your content and other content that is related to yours.  You can save hashtags that are related to your IG account in the preview app.

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If you would like to refresh the topics page, all you need to do is hold your finger on the screen, and then pull your feed down.  This will refresh the icon, and new posts will appear.

One nice thing about topic channels is that you can remove them if you decide they are not for you.  To remove a topic, you simply need to press and hold the topic channel and then select “mute” from the menu.  The topic will then be sent to the bottom of the list.  If you decide you would like to see more from that topic at any given time, you can unmute it.

When you have an Instagram channel, you will be able to see the stats of the video that you have posted.  You will be able to see the number of views it has, as well as the number of comments and likes.  It will also show you what your audience retention rate is (meaning what percentage of individuals watched your video in its entirety).

Reasons to use Instagram channels

Starting an Instagram Channel can greatly benefit your brand.  There are many reasons as to why business owners have turned to their IG channel.  These reasons include:

  1. Video content on our phones is huge. Why?  Because video is easy to watch and understand.  The average person watches 90 minutes of videos online per day!  As many as one-quarter of people will purchase a product after watching a video about the said item.  And individuals are two times as likely to tell others about a video they watched for a product over an ad.
  2. Having and using an IG channel is very easy to do.  Once you get started, you will wonder why you never did it before.  Capture a video on your phone and upload it to your IG account for others to enjoy.
  3. An Instagram channel allows you to reach many more people.  Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand, and your audience will come to you!
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How to get started with Instagram channels

If you feel that an Instagram channel is right for you and your business, there are a few things you will want to know before starting out.  These things can help to make your channel more successful and help you out in the long run.

  1. Have a purpose.  Do not have an IG channel just to have one.  Make sure it will work for you and your business needs.
  2. Add subtitles.  This is a great way to pique the interest of those that are not able to watch your videos with sound due to being hearing impaired or being in a place that sound is restricted (it is estimated that about 85% of viewers watch videos without any sound).
  3. Add high-quality content.  The better the quality, the more followers you will retain.
  4. Keep it a decent length.  Just because you have 10 minutes does not mean you have to use it all.  If you are using fillers to keep your video long, you will fail for sure.  Be prepared for your video when you shoot it and do not keep your followers waiting.  If you have to look for an item while filming it, think to yourself if you would want to watch someone else on a video looking for the item.  Having everything ready to go with a plan is the best way to record a video.  Keep your video’s message clear, concise, and to the point.
  5. Stick to a posting schedule.  This is a great way to promote your brand around various events that your business may have.  Think about how often you want to post- several times per day, once per day, every other day?  Maybe just once or twice weekly?  There is no right or wrong posting schedule.  Each brand will need to figure out what works best for them.
  6. Be authentic.  Your channel and the videos should represent you and your brand.  If they do not, something is wrong and your followers will be quick to pick up on this.
  7. When shooting your videos, make sure the subject does not go out of the frame.  A sufficient margin should be left for cropping and any editing that may need to be done.

How to create an Instagram Channel and upload a video

Creating an Instagram channel is quick and simple after you download the IGTV app from Google Play.  First, you will need to sign in to your IG account, then go to the settings in the upper right-hand corner.  Click on “create channel” and your IG channel will start.   All of your IG information will be transferred over to your IG channels, such as your bio, username, and profile picture.

When you are ready to upload a video, you will need to click on your avatar that is located on the main page.  From here, you will click the “+” sign to upload a new video.  This is located in the right-hand corner.  From the camera roll, you can select any video that is vertical.  Add a title and description, using keywords that are relevant to the video.  Make sure the title is attention-grabbing, as this will make individuals want to watch it.  You can also link to an external page if desired.  You may create a thumbnail for the video and then click on the “post” button.

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Story saver for Instagram

Story saver for Instagram allows one to save videos and photos from Instagram.  After saving them, you will be able to upload to other social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter.  This tool is very easy to use and is very fast loading.  What is so great about story saver for Instagram is that you can now save your friend’s posts, stories, and even their live streams!

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If you want to save IG stories to your Android phone, you will need to download the “storysaver” app.  Once installed, you will need to log in to your IG account, then select the story you wish to save to your phone.  Click on the save option, and it will save as a JPG file.

Conclusion

With 600 million monthly active users, it is no wonder why everyone is so crazy about all Instagram has to offer.  From Instagram stories to Instagram channels, this social media platform has something for any business owner! With over one-third of Instagram users stating they have used their phone to purchase a brand, Instagram is a social media tool that can really help your brand engage with others.