Instagram Stories, Snapchat and now Facebook Stories… It doesn’t matter which one is better, which one came first, or who stole the format from who.
One thing all the social media marketing experts agree on is this: Video is here to stay.
To repeat… Video — especially in the form of “snaps” or “stories” and live streaming — is here to stay.
It doesn’t matter if you are comfortable on screen or not. It doesn’t matter if you plan to “do more video” this year or if you said that very same thing last year (and I’m preaching to myself here).
If you do not get on board with video marketing, your business will be left behind.If you do not get on board with video marketing, your business will be left behind.Click To Tweet
So what do you need to do to get started with video, or — if you’ve played around with some video — what can you do now to make your videos better?
You could invest in better cameras and lighting. You could turn your guest bedroom into an in-house video recording studio. Or, you could finally create that new YouTube channel you’ve been meaning to start and begin building an audience from scratch.
But there’s an easier way.
If you have a smartphone and are on Instagram or Facebook already, then it’s easy. You have a built-in audience (even if it’s just Grandma) and you have all the equipment you need.
Start playing and testing Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories today.
I mean it. Just start!
In fact, if you haven’t used the Stories feature yet, you should just stop reading this post and go “play” now. I’ll be here when you’re ready.
If you’re ready to kick it up a bit already, keep reading for tips on making EPIC Stories.
While there will always be new trends and ideas, here are three key steps to keep in mind that will work (in most cases) across the board. I chose to focus on Instagram Stories as the example.
Here are the three key steps in a nutshell:
- The Intro: Capture Attention: Introduce yourself before you dig into the main content. Use intro cards, theme music, or just record a simple “hello, my name is…”
- The Main Content: Tell a Memorable Story: Don’t just sell me something or tell me how great your product is… SHOW me. Share testimonials or success stories. Before and after photos. Tell me how lives have changed or how businesses have grown after using your products or service.
- The End: Include a Call-to-Action: Keep your Instagram Stories short and to the point. But don’t end them abruptly or leave your audience hanging. Tell viewers where to go to learn more, where to sign up for your webinar, or how to buy your product.
How to Capture — And Keep — Attention Span
Introduce the topic of each story before you just jump in to the main content. Some people just record talking head videos like: “Good morning, Instagram. Today we’re going to talk about the importance of setting specific brand colors for your business.”
It seems redundant but simply introducing your topic before you start talking about it is a great practice. This works best if you’ve built a bit of a following and your face is recognizable already, or if you’re an entrepreneur building a personal brand. You need to be the face of your business.
Assuming you’re delivering great content consistently, your followers will start to associate your face with great content. Then, every time they hear you introduce a new story, they will know great content is coming and they need to keep watching.
Another great way to introduce a new story is to start with an intro “card,” which can be a graphic or video that can break up your standard video clips. So if the majority of your Instagram Stories are talking head selfie videos, break up each story or segment with intro cards, like Naturally Katie does to announce a new blog post.
Hire a designer to create graphics you can reuse, like SFH‘s graphic they post each time they announce a new published blog post. This intro card remains the same, but then following clips go into the latest blog post topic.
Or, create your own intro on the fly with the app’s built-in tools. You can take any photo, fill the background with a color and then add text, doodles, and emojis like Dry Bar does before highlighting their Friday Faves.
How to Make Memorable IG Stories
First and foremost be yourself. Even if you and I are selling the exact same things we are each unique. We both bring something different to the table. Use that uniqueness to your advantage.
I share visual marketing and design tips but throw in highlights of my day which include time at the gym, working remotely at my favorite coffee shop, or sharing my daily kombucha addiction.
Stick to a consistent schedule and try theme days. You might go to church Sunday, take out the trash Tuesday morning, and watch your favorite show Thursday night. We’re programmed on weekly schedules. Use that to your advantage and program consistent themes such as Motivational Monday, Tips Tuesday, and so on.
A consistent posting schedule becomes memorable over time, automatically. When you start a new theme, introduced it casually like, “Hey, it’s Monday so I’m back with another Motivational Monday IG Story!”
Buffer does a great job of mixing up the content they share, from valuable social media tips to visually fascinating images such as the beautiful travel photos shared during their theme day called Friday Travel Inspiration. It’s worth noting here you do not have to manually create or come up with all the content you share. Curate, repost and highlight great work of others. Be sure to give the original creator credit with a tag or shoutout, as well.
Whenever possible, use brand colors to tie your stories together and further build brand recognition. I use orange (almost) exclusively in everything that I post online, especially on Instagram.
Social Studio does a great job using their signature pink color. (What is that, like a salmon?) Posts alternate between colored backgrounds with simple text to great photos with text overlay. There’s always a way to work in your brand color.
Finally, when it comes to making memorable stories, be sure to mix things up. If you typically deliver content via a talking head, then it’s time to mix it up. Viewers will get bored staring at clip after clip of your face. Try different camera angles and the app’s built-in tools (filter overlays, Boomerang, Rewind, etc.), as well as different content — videos, still images, and graphics created and uploaded into your story.
Often, I’ll create IG Stories with several clips and the follow-up later with one simple post — the ever-popular quote graphic. I make a series of tall quote graphics and have them handy on my phone to post throughout the week. Chris Ducker does a great job of mixing in well-designed graphics throughout is IG Stories, as well.
How to Command Action
Include a call-to-action command. After you’ve shared the main content, tell us what to do next. If you’re story isn’t memorable or not fitting for someone specific watching, they’ve swiped left and skipped to the next story already.
BUT… If you’ve connected with the perfect person, they’ve loved the content you just shared.
And they want more.
Give them an appropriate CTA. Send them to your website to learn more. Or tell them to comment with a questions or to tag a friend that would benefit from this content.
Just don’t leave them hanging… Tell them to do something.
Sue B. Zimmerman does a great job including CTAs on both her personal and business accounts. Often, she says to click the link in her Instagram bio and follows up with a CTA graphic she can quickly make with a screenshot of her profile.
Upload a screenshot of your profile into Instagram Stories, then take the pen tool to highlight the link. Use white to “erase” your posts or anything distracting, and use your brand color to circle or otherwise point right to the link. Add text to further drive home your CTA.
You could also save a simple graphic on your phone (like my speech bubble example) that you load and then add related CTA text at the end of a story.
It’s worth nothing here that individual posts can act like ads for your products and services. Use well-designed graphics with built-in CTAs to promote your current offers. Know, however, that you should mix these posts in sparingly with lots of other great content. And, if you do use them, they work better when paired with large IG Stories. Intro your offer, tell us about it and share WHY we should learn more about it, and THEN end with the “ad” graphic.
Flavorgod Seasonings does a great job of using the perfect mix of video, graphics, and “ads” in their IG Stories. What I’m calling an ad, in this case, is just a previously created image you upload as one clip in a story. I’d suggest using video (pre-recorded or you own talking head) to tell a story or sell the product and then ending with the image “ad” that repeats the message. Or, you could promote a challenge, like Derek Halpern of Social Triggers did recently.
How to Craft Perfect IG Stories (Easy 5-Step Formula)
If you’ve read this far, you’ve got lots of ideas on creating epic Instagram Stories. There are many ways you can captivate and share, but these five elements below, in my opinion, make for an easy formula to follow.
Use this as a guideline to start crafting perfect, epic Instagram Stories, then branch out as you develop your own style. Once you start putting content out, you will get a feel for what you enjoy delivering, and (more importantly) what your audience wants.
- Main Content
- CTA (Spoken)
- CTA (On-screen)
So to recap, you first say hello, introduce yourself or the topic. Think talking head or upload an intro graphic or video card.
Then, deliver your main content. Be brief but strive for quality.
Next, tell us what to do, well… Next. Deliver an applicable CTA that flows from the content you just delivered to the viewer’s next step.
Outro graphic or video card to wrap up story. A signal that says this story is over.
Finally, you can repeat the CTA for folks still watching. You can do another talking head video but I’d suggest an image with simple text that recaps the most important next step.
That’s it! I can’t wait to see what you create. If you’re off and running, be sure to connect with me on Instagram so I can watch those epic stories.
If you need more inspiration, be sure to follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s IG Stories (@garyvee). He’s got a team behind him creating memorable graphics and engaging videos, mixed with his own tips and a look into his day.
And if you’re still a bit unsure, or feeling a bit overwhelmed, then I would love to help you with next steps.
First, know the main content is on you. Nobody knows your product/services like you do. No one can deliver value with the same combo of expertise + passion as you.
So do what you do best. Determine what it is that you want to say. Focus on delivering the “meat.” The quality content.
Then, I can help package up that content so you can present it in a professional way. If you need help creating the intro/outro graphics and videos, I’d love to work with you. You don’t have to have a team like GaryVee to get started. Just send me a message or drop a comment below to get started.