How to create the perfect Instagram Story
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
In this blog post I'm going to take you through 10 steps to creating the perfect Instagram Story. Let's go!
The internet is your friend.
There are some amazing resources out there for examples of the perfect Instagram Story. Facebook even have their own Inspiration page, full of wonderful examples of best practice Stories.
Create for the platform
Depending on how social savvy you or your creatives are, it's important to become immersed in how Stories work.
I still see ideas and storyboards presented in landscape format for social... If I see you do that after reading this post then you're officially dead to me!
Instead, make sure you're using the whole of the vertical frame, scamp or mock-up ideas for Instagram Stories in portrait - even better mock it up using Facebook creative hub or your own mobile templates.
Know what is and isn't possible on the platform and consider adapting or even expanding ideas based on capabilities. For example if you have a verified account or over 10,000 followers you can include links for people to swipe up to a website, an Instant Experience, or another desired link.
Learn the art of vertical production
Advertising and production bends to match consumer behaviours, and mobile use is on the rise. Video advertising is moving more and more to the vertical space, and those left behind in tradition will fall behind.
There are some tips, and rules like the rule of thirds still apply. One creator I heard from suggested treating the frame like a poster as you need to frame the content correctly and then also leave room for titling.
Some things are more challenging than others to frame in vertical: people and giraffes - easy! Cars - a little trickier. But only by testing will you see what works for your subject matter.
If you're adapting a television ad then it's also a great idea to request additional shots before shooting, bespoke for the vertical frame. This way you're not solely adapting for the space, but at least creating an element in a bespoke manner.
Well, that would have grabbed my attention!
In today's age of quick consumables you just have to cut-through in the first second of any form of advertising. People are used to swiping through ads quickly and without remorse - so if you don't offer them not to straight away, your content will just not be seen.
It's a fine balancing act and one of the reasons why my job is so interesting. You need to balance the need to get the message and brand up-front, with some thing engaging and impactful. If your brand affinity is extremely high and you have a large, loyal customer base who want to consume content from you then the brand and message is perhaps more important, whereas if you're a small fish in a giant ocean then you need to be disruptive.
Which takes us on to the next point nicely...
Tell people what is going on
On TV ads you can build slowly because you have bought those 20 or 30 seconds. In social, and in Instagram Stories particularly, you have to alter the narrative to lead with the message.
It flips traditional advertising on it's head.
You need to set the scene immediately and get your messaging up-front to encourage people to watch more. Brands like Lad Bible are very good at doing this, and in the example below you know the context straight away:
Don't shove logos down people's throats... but still brand
Remember branding is more than a shiny logo. Branding is your product, your font, it's art direction, a visual style, it can be a character, a person, perhaps a colour scheme. And if you think less literally about branding you will be able to mix branding and messaging with grabbing attention.
You can put your logo on a piece of creative and people may take in the logo and think to themselves "I just saw an ad from xxx" but there will be nothing more on top of that, you might as well just put a logo on a white background and use that.
My guess is that you want to raise brand affinity, to drive consideration, maybe push to purchase. None of these things will be achieved by slapping a logo on a piece of creative as an after thought.
Take no prisoners with titling
So you've created a nice Instagram Story and you're ready to publish it - well hold your horses there just one minute. Titling is everything on social. In some cases it's as important as the video or image that it sits on.
Remember, we are talking titles, not subtitles - so treat them differently:
Make sure the font is impactful but easily legible
Bigger is better (to an extent)
Consider single words at a time
Consider mixing single and multiple words
Experiment with placement
Experiment with using emojis
Quicken the pace (people consume content approximately 40% quicker on mobile devices)
Experiment with pacing
And now i've told you all of the above - mix it up. Titling can help a Story to stand out and make it memorable, so don't be afraid to break the rules.
Use elements native to Instagram Stories
Stories are huge for a reason and the team behind the scenes at Facebook (Instagram) are well aware of what works well on their platform. So if you're not making the most of what you can do on the platform then you're missing a trick.
Create boomerangs, use stickers, add hashtags and all of that good stuff where applicable. Also consider taking those elements and 'hacking' them in an edit - like perhaps you create a weather sticker which starts out as sunny, but then it turns to rainy the video changes as well. Or perhaps the individuals in the video can interact with stickers that look like they've been added in the app itself.
Another thing to consider are interactive elements. Currently you can add polls, quizzes, question forms & more. In the future there will most likely be more involvement with AR, games and shopping - adding even more options for adding a level of engagement.
Encourage CTA & remember the safe area
If you want people to tap through, keep watching or swipe up make sure you tell them to do so. Whether that's spelling it out, or simply directing the eye to that area, it's a neat little trick that should increase your click through rates.
And don't forget if you're creating to the correct spec (1080x1920) then you need to leave approximately 250 pixels or so at the top and bottom of the ad - so no sneaking T&C's or logos in at the bottom!
Now that you're feeling confident about creating the perfect Instagram Story, please just experiment. Post things to a test account, use split testing for clients to see what performs best. It's all about testing and learning on social, and what I've found is that what might work for one client may not do so well for another.
So experiment, test, learn, and good luck with your Stories!