The Internet has opened up an arena that makes it possible for more number of people to create and share stories- in different formats, than ever before. But this also means that you should possess a good storytelling acumen to captivate to an audience that is spoilt for choice. Here then are some lesser known tips to make your Instagram and Snapchat stories more engaging.
Map the story path
There is no need to consider the act of putting up an Instagram story as rocket science. But some amount of homework would go a long way in making your story interesting (not to mention cohesive).
Anchor the story on a single premise
A good story needs a narrative central point for the audience to focus on- too much straying and they may end up feeling a little lost.
For instance, if it’s a new blend of coffee that has hit the market which you want to talk about, then the focal point could be trying out what different cafes in your locality are doing with the blend and how it compares with what they do with other blends. Or it could be simply your take on the blend based on what comes out of your own kitchen. Whatever it is, before setting out to shoot the video, have the premise locked.
Follow the 5-post structure
This needn’t be a cardinal rule but is a decent narrative arc to follow if you are not sure of the sequence in which to present the story.
Greeting: This could range from a simple “Hi, my name is..” to making a dramatic entry in a Superhero costume complete with a grand background score- if budget allows.
The point is to build a rapport with the viewers from the outset.
The set up: This is where you give the viewer a primer for what’s to come. For instance, if it’s trying out a new coffee blend as used by different cafes, you give them this info as well as some basic information about the cafes that you are going to visit.
The central content: Now it’s time to give the audience the core content, and deliver it in style! In our example, this would involve the actual act of visiting different cafes and tasting their products.
Your personal perspective: Once the core content has been presented, it’s time for your personal perspective- in this case, the best product from a café in your opinion.
Conclusion: The exact nature of the conclusion is up to you. It could be pointers for improving the quality of a coffee based product or comparison with some other product category. Or maybe you could end by talking about some other exploration you are going to undertake in the near future that you would share with the audience.
Create story storms
Essentially, you get about 30 seconds with every Instagram story in which you have to convey an interesting message. But 30 seconds is a very limited time frame. You can overcome this by using a story storm-which is basically a continuous stream of updates in which you present on a single topic.
Ask the right questions after a story storm
One great aspect of social media is that you could establish a one-to-one relationship with your audience. A simple way to initiate this – invite your viewers to give feedback. at the end of a story storm.
Include strategic questions
Adding some strategic questions to your stories is also a way to up the viewer engagement. For example, you could ask the viewers to pick between two different types of coffee.
Ensure that the stories get maximum number of eyeballs
Instead of trying to give you a detailed picture, let us just give you one pointer which would help you gain more eyeballs for your stories- You should occasionally repost one of the individual story posts that you made to your traditional Instagram account. This way, the audience will be in the loop about your regular IG stories.
Decide whether to run a theme
Having a theme is one of the more exciting methods to engage an audience-if used wisely. An example of a theme is “Benefits of coffee.” You can use this theme to inform the audience about the benefits in an interesting way. However, the trick is not to rely on themes too much. Do a theme when you’re a little short on story ideas and would still like to keep the shares coming.
Bring variations in content
There is no shortcut for this. You just have to know a lot about your topic. For instance, if all your stories are on coffee, aside from contemporary cafes, you can dig into the different methods of growing coffee and the use of coffee in different cultures, its history, origin and even more.
Screencap the view trail
Swiping up on the published stories, you can see the number of viewers and also who they are. If a post has garnered the view of an influencer or a celeb, lose no time in screen capping their view trail. It would do good to screencap the view count for the very first and last stories of a series before they expire. Aside from going after new viewers, maintaining the count for the duration of a story series is also a priority.
Get on-demand Geofilters
Yes, they are not free but they are fairly inexpensive. They are priced based on the time frame, location and square footage that you wish to rent. These filters certainly add value to your stories-especially if the story is about a particular location where you know your viewers would be Snapping away.
Download the Snaps and upload them elsewhere
To take your stories beyond the Snapchat audience, you can either download the Snaps by clicking the download arrow(at the screen’s bottom) or taking a screenshot and uploading them on other channels. In fact, you can download an entire story by tapping on the three vertical dots while you’re viewing the list of the day’s stories.
Add multiple filters to a single Snap
You can do this by holding down on the screen, having a finger on the current filter and simply swiping through so that you can add more.
Check for the lenses daily (and when you travel)
Apart from regular lenses, there are also the sponsored and limited time lenses which you could use to make your Snaps even savvier. Which is what makes checking for the lenses daily a good idea. Also, the selection of lenses could also vary depending on your location- so do check for them while you travel.
Truncate longer Snaps
Upload a higher number of shorter Snaps- say around 5 seconds. Title cards could be used in conjunction. For instance, by simply snapping a wall or other background, you would get a canvas on which to create a message to cue the audience to move to the next part of the story, that would maintain the flow. This would help the user keep track of your snaps.
Diversify the content mix
The last thing that an audience would like from a Snapchat account is repetitive stories- after all, it’s to escape the mundane everyday that a large number of people visit social pages. So, it would be a good idea to try different content types. Here are a few to help you get started: DIY tutorials, Interviews, ‘A day in the life’ videos, ‘How is it made’ videos and Short reviews videos.
This article was first published in the Feb 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.