I swore never to become one of those people. You know, the people who take Instagram seriously. The ones who shudder at the thought of posting a ‘gram that hasn’t had the VSCO nip/tuck treatment first (hell no!), or a snap that just doesn’t fit in with their *groans* “theme”. Pfft. Well whaddya know? 1 year later and I’ve gone over to the dark side. Somehow, I just got sucked in. Long gone are the days of posting a spontaneous snap of my builder’s brunch with a bit of Valencia filter to bring out the baked beans slurping over the side of the plate. But it’s no secret that Instagram can be tough and disheartening at times. If it’s not the algorithm killing my buzz then it’s those big accounts playing the follow/unfollow game, and now there’s something called shadow blocking – where Instagram itself (the nerve!) selectively blocks use who use too many hashtags without them even knowing it. It’s true to say that I fall out of love with Instagram every day for some reason or another.
Then, Instagram Stories came along and I finally had a place for all those sloppy, spur of the moment snaps. It’s brought the spontaneity back to Instagram – the no pressure, no filter fun – and it’s the perfect place for those raw snippets of daily life. Through them I’ve fallen back in love with Instagram. Like kids and bedtime stories, I tend to flick through them before I go to sleep – just to see what everyone’s been up to in “real life”; where they went, what they ate, what they made, what they wore, what their dog (or cat!) did.
It’s within the last month that I’ve really started having fun with it. I micro-vlog on days out or when I’m cooking (or need to rant about my dog ripping up his puppy pads) and I love playing around with the features. It’s tipped to be the next big thing in social media marketing and blogging over the next year, with more and more users getting involved. So if you’re just starting out with Instagram Stories or you’re looking for a few tips and tricks to up your game and make things a little more interesting, look no further!
▲ You don’t have to use Instagram to create your stories. Handy tip numero uno; you don’t have to just use the app to take pictures or videos. With one downward swipe you can actually pull in recent videos and pictures you created using other apps like Snapchat. By doing this, you’re not confined to using only the features Instagram Stories has to offer. I’ve used my camera app to film videos and then sped them up or slowed them down (cool little trick for making driving and road trip stories more interesting). I’ve also used VSCO for other filters and Snapchat for selfies. Remember though, you’re limited to using videos created within the past 24 hours (again, you can get around that by resaving or editing the photo/video).
▲ Sick of being cut off after 15 seconds? If you’re fed up of spilling your heart out to the world and having it annoyingly cut you off every 15 seconds, try this. Record in your camera app and then snip the video into 15 second segments. Upload them into Instagram Stories in order, and voila! Each video should seamlessly run through into the next one. No mid sentence shut downs! 🙂
▲ Text. Unless you use another photo editing app, there’s only one font to choose from in Instagram Stories itself. You can change the colour of the font using the paint pots at the bottom of the screen, or, if you press the “A” button at the top of the screen you can add a background colour to the text to make it easier to read. Move your text around the screen, resize it using your fingers, or using the slider on the left. Hold down words or letters to change their individual colour.
▲ Pens. Using pens is a fun way of doodling or handwriting on your videos. I’ve got a pen with a stylus on one end which makes handwriting and drawing on my phone screen a bit easier and fits easily in my bag. There are LOADS of colours to choose from; either hold your finger down on a colour pot to tweak, or swipe left for more. If you want to colour-block your screen, or give your selfie a colourful haze then select the marker and a colour then hold your finger down on the screen.
▲ Stickers. Stickers are great for adding a little something-something and are constantly being switched and updated. Click the smiley sticker in the upper right hand corner and you can access location, time and temperature tags, emojis, photo booth props and stickers related to the day of the week. 🙂
▲Stamp your location for a better chance of being discovered by others. A more recent update to stories is the ability to watch “City Stories”, a collection of stories from users in one area (you can search for these stories using the search by location function). If you stamp a location to your story (even if you make it really, really small!) it has a higher chance of being added to the collective story for your home town or city/place you’re currently visiting – meaning higher views and – you never know! – followers. If that’s what your end goal is, of course…
▲ Face Filters. Another recent feature is the ability to play around with facial filters (sounds familiar… *ahem* Snapchat *ahem*). Press the little face next to the camera button at the bottom of the screen and change up your usual selfie for something different.
▲ Get social, or not! Mention or tag other users in your stories by using the text feature and typing “@” followed by the person’s user name. Restrict who sees your story by pressing the little star in the upper left hand corner.
What do you love/hate about Instagram and Stories?