The following excerpt is from Kim Walsh Phillips’s book Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
They say you have eight seconds to grab your prospect’s attention. It takes quite a bit of skill to generate a compelling message in such a short amount of time, but now marketers are called to face a further challenge. Instagram (and also Snapchat) is allowing people to create brief messages that disappear almost instantly. And users love it!
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The next step beyond capturing attention is creating a message or visual that’s memorable. Instagram’s latest updates include the Stories and Live options. Both allow brands a unique way to interact with their fan base. Stories contain an interesting set of short video clips or images which will disappear after 24 hours, and the Live option notifies followers about videos that are being recorded in real time.
Instagram Stories allows users to share moments of their day without permanently placing them on their profile, easing the fear of over-posting. There are three posting options: live, boomerang or normal. As these short videos or images are uploaded, they are grouped together in a mini slideshow using your profile picture as the cover photo. They can be found along the top of the Instagram app but disappear after just 24 hours.
Before creating your first story
Adjust story settings: Click the week in the upper-right-hand corner of your profile page. Select “Story Settings.” You can choose to allow replies from no one, everyone or only people you follow. You can also hide your story if there are people you do not wish to share it with in your audience.
The stories that appear along the top bar of your feed are organized left to right, from most recent to those already viewed. New stories will feature the colorful Instagram ring. When viewing, you cannot comment or like the story, but you have the option to send a direct message to the account owner.
Create your first story
Step 1. Tap the profile picture with the blue “+” from the top-left-hand corner of your feed. Choose “Enable Camera Access” and/or “Enable Microphone Access.”
Step 2. Select the appropriate post option:
- Live. Recorded in real time and only available to those who engage while you’re live. It disappears as soon as the broadcast finishes.
- Normal. Images and videos disappear after 24 hours.
- Boomerang. Small bursts of images played quickly forward and then backward.
- Hands-free. Allows you to record without needing to hold your phone.
Step 3. Record or take photo.
Step 4. Edit options. You can easily add filters, emojis, drawings or text by using the tools below:
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- Change the filter. Instagram is known for its overlays and filters to dress up your photos. You can now add these to your stories too by sliding left or right over your image or video.
- Add emojis, drawings or text. Available on the top-right menu.
Step 5. Save to post your story. Save your video/photo to your device from the icon in the lower left, or select the arrow on the right for more options.
Send to select people. Your list of followers will appear, and you’ll be able to choose specifically who you want to view your post.
Create a new group. Choose a group of people to allow access to your post.
That’s it, you’ve just created your very first story.
This new feature engages users in a similar way to Periscope and Facebook Live. If your followers have Live Notifications turned on, they will receive an update when you are recording and be able to watch your video in real time. However, when the video is over, it doesn’t stay on your profile or story. It disappears altogether, similar to Snapchat’s six-second snippets.
To create an Instagram Live
Step 1. Create a New Story. Tap the profile picture with the blue “+” from the top-left-hand corner of your feed. Choose “Enable Camera Access” and/or “Enable Microphone Access.”
Step 2. Go Live! Select the “Live” option. (Note: You can’t use flash in this mode.) When you’re ready, tap “Start Live Video” to start recording. Instagram will notify your followers that you are doing a live broadcast so they can join in.
Step 3. Manage Live Broadcast. As followers tune in, you will be able to see the number of viewers in the upper-left corner and their profile names at the bottom of the screen. Any viewer comments will also appear at the bottom, so you may respond or assess the engagement of your audience. You can disable the comment feature by tapping the three dots in the lower right and selecting “Turn Off Commenting.”
Step 4. End the Broadcast. When done, tap End in the upper right and select “End Live Video.” This will prompt the analytics screen. Remember, your live video won’t be saved to your Instagram Story and can’t be viewed again.
Step 5. Review Live Analytics. This screen tells you the total number of viewers who watched your broadcast. You can measure this number against your total follower count to determine what percentage of your fans engaged with your video.
A huge business benefit of using the Instagram Stories and Live features is that your account can reach followers who don’t normally have Notifications turned on for your individual posts. They will automatically see your Instagram Story in the top bar of their feed.
Related: Harness the Power of Stardom With Instagram
As a business who wants to get the word out to your target market with as high of an ROI as possible, Instagram Live and Instagram Stories cannot be ignored. For now, at least, these platforms allow you to reach your target market in droves for free. They have high interaction rates and are easy to use.
While you can still take advantage of these platforms, utilize them quickly for maximum results.