Never having been a fan of Snapchat, I rolled my eyes a little when Instagram introduced their Stories feature a few months ago. But, as it turns out, Instagram Stories have quickly become one of my favourite social media features.
They’re great for sharing instant updates and snaps from your day which aren’t quite “feed-worthy”. In terms of bloggers and personal accounts, this is a great way to show a bit more of your personality and to let people get to know you better without all the filters and flatlays. For brands and businesses, Instagram Stories are perfect for sharing behind the scenes snippets and showing customers exclusive photos. So, all in all I love Instagram Stories and today I’m sharing a few of my favourite tips and tricks for making the most of this feature.
The basics of Instagram Stories
If you haven’t used Instagram Stories before, it’s a built-in feature on Instagram which allows you to share pictures and short videos (separate from your feed) which disappear after 24 hours. To add a story, click on the camera icon in the top right corner of the screen and press the button to take a photo or hold the button down to take a video.
Once your story has been uploaded, you’ll able to see it at the top of your main feed on the Instagram home screen. You’ll also see the icons of people you follow – stories you haven’t watched yet will have a pink circle around them, and watched ones will have a grey circle. If you click on your own story, you’ll also be able to see how many views your story has – tap on the number at the bottom of the screen to see which people have viewed it.
Adding your own Instagram Stories
When you go to add your own Instagram story, there are several options to choose from. First you’ll be greeted with Normal mode which – as the name suggests – is just a regular photo (or hold down for regular video). If you swipe left, you’ll also find Boomerang (a short video which replays backwards and forwards in a loop), and Hands Free which records regular video without you having to hold the button down.
Swipe right for Live mode. This records a live video which your followers can like and reply to in real time, so it’s great for doing Q&As or getting live feedback from your followers. Live videos disappear immediately after you end the stream, so be aware that you won’t be able to save live videos.
The final option for adding in photos or videos to your story is to add items from your camera roll. To do this, swipe up from Normal mode and any pictures or videos taken during the last 24 hours will appear at the bottom of the screen. If you want to use a picture older than 24 hours (for example a Throwback Thursday or something you just forgot to post the day before), just take a screenshot of the photo in your camera roll and it will appear as a new photo for Instagram Stories!
Customising your Instagram Stories
One of the best bits of Instagram Stories is being able to customise your photos and videos with handwriting, text, stickers, emojis and more. Once you have selected your photo, you’ll see three icons appear at the top of the screen – stickers, pen tool and text.
The stickers are fairly self-explanatory – just choose the one you want, tap on it and you can drag it around to reposition it or pinch to change the size. If you want to delete a sticker, just pull it towards the bin icon at the bottom. Some stickers have multiple appearances, for example add the location sticker (which links to a clickable location on Instagram) and tap it once to change the colour of the background/text, or tap the temperature sticker to change from C to F or add a weather symbol.
With the pen tool, you can choose a traditional pen, a highlighter or a neon pen (and sometimes limited edition pens like the hearts for Valentine’s Day). To change the thickness of your pen, tap on the white circle with three black dots in the bottom left of the screen and use the slider to choose your thickness. You can also use the colours at the bottom of the screen to change the colour of your pen. Don’t like any of those shades? Click and hold any colour swatch to access the full spectrum of colours.
The text tool is fairly similar. You can change the size and colour of text using the same icons at the bottom of the screen. You can also use the A button in the top centre of the screen to add a background to your text, and use the paragraph button on the left to change the alignment of your text. You can also combine text and pen, for example, to add a scribble of highlighter behind text to make it stand out more. If you want to tag someone in a story, use the text tool to type @ followed by their username and a clickable link to their profile will appear in your finished story.
You can also add filters to your photos and videos. Swipe left or right to scroll through the seven different filters available. Just click the + Your Story button when you’re finished all your customisations and your story will be uploaded.
Watching Instagram Stories
As well as creating my own stories, I love seeing other people’s stories and catching up with their days. If you follow a lot of people on Instagram, this can mean a lot of stories to catch up with! To clean up your feed a bit, if there’s anyone you love following on Instagram but aren’t interested in watching their stories, just mute them by pressing and holding their icon in your Instagram Stories feed and selecting Mute.
When you’re viewing your Instagram Stories feed, tap the screen once to skip a photo/video. If you skip by accident, just tap the left of the screen to go back to the previous photo, or swipe to go back to the previous account. You can also swipe in the other direction to skip forwards to the next account. If you want to pause a story to get a closer look, just tap and hold anywhere on the screen.
Are you a fan of Instagram Stories? If you’ve come across any other tips and tricks, please do let me know!