At this point, you understand the benefit of using Stories, and you understand how to use them on the three biggest platforms. There are more we haven’t looked at yet (YouTube Reels for example), but that covers the big places that you should be spending most of your time and energy. But that brings us to the missing and most important piece of the puzzle: the quality. How do you ensure your Stories are good and worth watching for the users?
Before we get into the technical details, it’s first important to consider the very concept of your story. Is this something people want to see? Are you overdoing it? Quantity and regularity is a big consideration for many creators making social media specialists. So then just how often should you post and at what time of day? As for quantity, the general advice for social media in general is that you should post once or twice a day. This has been shown by studies to be more effective than posting either more or less regularly. The problem with this however, is that Stories work differently from other posts and so we can’t extrapolate this information.
Whereas posts to your main feed risk ‘clogging up’ users’ feeds and becoming irritating (or simply being buried and therefore gaining no benefit), posts to your Story will appear at the top of the page and not in a queue. Moreover, while Instagram and Facebook use complex algorithms that favor the individual user in order to determine which posts to show, this is not how Stories work. Stories are far more weighted by chronology, meaning in other words that the most recent Story is the one that you will be shown first. And THAT means that you can more easily get seen if you post more regularly. This way, you’ll be the first Story presented when more people open up their phones, in turn meaning that you’ll get more eyeballs on your content. Don’t go crazy, but there is no reason not to post 10 times in a row if the idea you’re trying to get across benefits from it. Don’t do this all the time though, or your viewers might still judge you! As for timing, the best time to post is just when people will be getting home from work. That means roughly 6pm in your local area, but you’ll need to be strategic to target the most countries possible if you have an international brand.
What to Post About?
This is the other big question to ask yourself when posting Stories: what is this about? Is it well suited to the format?Should you be posting it at all? Anything can be a Story. You can post an image of a product and call that a Story. Generally though, this will simply beg the question: why wasn’t that a regular post? Users want to see you use Stories to post about things that are happening now. That is why they’re so often used to post about concerts, travel, meetings, seminars, and similar events. But this is also what makes them a great fit for product launches, special deals, competitions, shout-outs, polls, and clips of other things that you might be doing. Going on a business meeting somewhere interesting? Why not bring your followers via Stories? Just created a new post for your blog? Stories! Stories also work extremely well for news sites. For instance, if you have a tech channel and a big company releases a new smartphone or computer, then you can write about it on the blog and then immediately share that post as news to your Stories.
If you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas for Stories, then consider creating a kind of recurring theme or even a ‘series’. A good example was when actor Chris Pratt used Stories to share what he was eating every day on his diet. They were funny, short, and a great insight into his life at the time. They also had the added bonus of showing a bit more of his life through things happening in the background or other stars in the videos.
Your Stories don’t need to be extremely high quality. In fact, that is often considered to be one of their biggest benefits: that they can be made quickly and don’t need to be works of art. With that said though, creators like Peter McKinnon are showing everyone else up by showing just how attractive and professional they can be.
So, depending on the nature of your brand, you might choose to stand out with a highly polished and beautiful Story. At the very least, learning some basics when it comes to photography, editing, framing, and more can help to elevate the level of your Stories and all the rest of your content for that matter!
Taking Better Photos
The first thing you should do is to equip yourself. If you hope to take the best pictures that will look professional on your account, then you should have a camera that will be able to take high definition images and you should have editing software so that you can add that extra bit of professional polish.
You’re probably used to taking photos for Instagram and Snap-chat on your phone. And that of course is something you can still do. To take a high quality photo you just need a phone with a good sensor, high megapixel count, and respectable post-processing. Good options include mostly anything by Apple or Samsung, the Pixel phones, Nokia phones etc.
BUT you also have the option to take photos from your gallery – which you might have added via an SD card or WiFi transfer. This is how you can take photos with a professional DSLR or Mirrorless camera. And you WILL see the difference. This is especially true if you shoot in RAW with a flat color profile and then do a little editing as well. This means that the camera will minimize post-processing, providing more information from the original image to play with. That in turn means you can really create that dynamic, HD looking contrast and crush those blacs/get the colors to pop.
If you run a business with a social account then you should be constantly ready to capture images when the opportunities present themselves. For instance, when I sold my old car in cash not long ago, I took the opportunity to photograph the money in a range of scenarios ready for potential use on my money making channel. Likewise, you might find when you’re on a walk that you see a great cityscape which could be used in a range of generic motivational posts. Make sure you have your camera on you at all times, and that you are actively looking out for great photo-ops so that you can create a great resource to draw on in future. This is another thing to consider: the photos don’t need to be posted as soon as they’re taken. You can post photos from months ago, or even post photos and videos from stock video/photography sites. This lets you create more content, more affordably.
Framing and Depth
While you aren’t going to become a pro overnight, taking great photos is often simply a matter of taking the time to consciously set up the image rather than just pointing and shooting head on. Think for instance about your foreground and background images elements, and about whether having a leaf in the foreground could help to create more of a sense of three-dimensional depth. Meanwhile look for things like paths and lines that can draw the eye in, and think about elements that can frame the action.
You don’t necessarily need professional lighting equipment meanwhile, but thinking about the angle you take the shot in relationship to the natural light sources can make a big difference in just a few seconds. Just take a bit more time and think about your composition as well as your subject and your photography will improve greatly.