In the 10+ years since Instagram was launched, it has grown and evolved into a huge and complex social media platform. Gone are the days of the simple photo sharing app with a straightforward feed and a few basic filter options. In the early days, the common complaint was along the lines of ‘Anyone can be a professional photographer now.’ Little did we know that this unique app would lead the charge on small creators branding themselves and creating large followings using free social media platforms.
A decade plus later and the game has changed – the focus is less on photography these days – now videography is the hot medium. Nearly all social media platforms now skew heavily toward video content, and Instagram is no exception. If you aren’t already, you should be focusing on investing time and effort into creating video content to connect with your fans and grow your following. These days the best way to do that on Instagram is by utilizing the Instagram Stories feature.
Why The Story Feature?
Most of you are probably on Instagram, but are you using the features to their best advantage? Most people use their feeds (Home Feed, Reels Feed, and IGTV Feed) to get their content onto different explore pages – that gains them new visibility among a cold audience, with the potential for new followers and engagement daily. The Instagram Story functions a bit differently, but it can certainly be used to help your platform grow!
Humphouse, one of the DJs I have been coaching for years ( you may have seen him on the Netflix show Slobby´s World) grows his Instagram organically mainly through sharing memes via his stories. That’s certainly one way to do it, but I recommend using your story as a tool to communicate more personally with your fans and followers. Let’s explore some strategies to utilize the story tool to grow your fanbase!
Why Invest in Instagram Stories?
Because that’s where your fans are hanging out! Your feed content can be seen by anyone, but your stories are likely watched daily by your existing followers. It’s important to keep them engaged!
Instagram has lots of different posting options, all with different functions. Reels is the perfect format to generate awareness and traffic while IGTV is a great tool to build trust. Both help build awareness as they are connected to the feeds – where a lot of cold traffic is generated.
Also consider that while some or most of your content on the feeds is pre-planned and very polished, you will have a limit on the polished content that you can reasonably create each day.
Your story is a great place for content that isn’t polished or planned – the entire idea of the story is to feature content that is raw, off the cuff, and behind the scenes. Content in your story disappears after 24 hours for precisely that reason – it’s meant to feel like it just happened.
Polished Vs. Unpolished Content
The only issue with that concept is that because it isn’t pre-planned, it can be hard to prioritize getting that content when you’re in the moment. It’s very common to focus all our energies on polished content to get those new followers and grow our fanbase – which often means leaving the story out. That can be a real mistake, as it’s hands down the best tool we have on Instagram to turn followers into fans.
After you reach 10k followers, you’ll have the ability to add an external link to your story. That function can be a great way to push traffic to other pages, but it has to be utilized correctly. The general rule is 80/20, meaning only 20% of your stories/posts/content should be promotional. Your followers will quickly tire of watching your stories if every post is promotional and/or has an external link, so be careful!
Sometimes promoting yourself is easy – just show your followers what you have to offer of value! For example, when I share stories giving behind the scenes looks at my membership SMART Launch Club, I nearly always convert new members. They’re typically people who have been following my content and already like what I’m doing. Just be using this part of the platform to share raw, off the cuff moments, I am able to convert followers into paying customers. The post isn’t directly promotional – it has nothing to do with trying to sell them a membership – I’m simply sharing my day and what I’m doing behind the scenes.
What Should I Post In My Instagram Story?
Musicians have a huge advantage over other businesses trying to use Instagram to grow, and that is because they can be much more personal! You can actually show your face and interact with your audience as a person and not a faceless entity. The biggest struggle I’ve had with my startups is creating a personality to my socials without an actual person to attribute it to.
That’s why being yourself and working on an authentic relationship with your audience will make you stick out – people are endlessly curious about who musicians and celebrities actually are.
For example, I remember Cardi B when she was just an influencer on Instagram. She used to do these long monologues in your stories – often talking about subjects that were rarely talked about in public forums. She had a strong fanbase from the outset, and it was all because she was personal and authentic with her fans.
All that being said, I know that some musicians may be more introverted, and have trouble connecting with people or talking about themselves outside of their music. Let’s talk about some strategies for creating content for your stories that will work for you:
Getting Personal – Your Instagram Followers Need To Feel Like They Know You
There are so many ways to accomplish this without making it uncomfortable or feeling like you’re oversharing. Tell a story. Show an old picture of yourself and then a video telling the story behind it. Maybe do a series within ‘fun facts’ your followers may not know about you. The more you can be real and authentic, the more you’ll connect. Using your story to establish fans now can create fans for life!
Get Your Fans Involved
No one likes being talked at, so find ways to talk to your followers. Ask a question, or open yourself up to your audience to answer questions they ask. Let them feel involved in a decision, like voting between 2 versions of a song. The big plus is that the Story feature has many interactive tools that can be added to your content to make it more engaging for your fans. Take advantage of those features!
Share Your Thoughts and Driving Purpose With Them
Are you a Comedian? Crack jokes! Are you an Inspirational Musician? Use your story to spread motivational and inspirational content! Just made a decision about your song/style/career? Share the decision and the thoughts and reasoning behind it. These are the personal touches that make you real and easy to identify with as a person!
Show Behind The Scenes of Your Polished Instagram Feed Content
You’re most likely sharing more polished videos of your music on your feed, so use the story to share the behind the scenes! Let’s say you’re producing something and you found the perfect sample to use. Share that small moment – it doesn’t have to be polished to have an impact. In the last year many musicians have struggled with not having the ability to make or share content outside of their homes. Your story is a great solution – it’s not about polish, location, or being impressive. There is a lot of value in showing even small decisions that you make with your music everyday. Show what’s inspiring you. Share what musicians you’re listening to. What do you like about them? The Story feature also directly connects with Instagram’s music library, so use that feature! Put your own track over some great content and build that fanbase!
Try Games and Quizzes If You Feel Uninspired
This is a great trick that I use myself – especially when I just don’t feel like showing myself. The game can be as simple of just a trivia question. For example, ‘Who Sold the Most Albums?’ showing a split screen of 2 album covers and an invitation to guess the answer. I also like to get my fans involved by asking open-ended questions like ‘Who would your perfect Collab be?’ Let’s say someone says Madonna – I can then use that for follow-up content with images of her with my thoughts in text or a following video.
It’s important to note that while you can still share your own feed post on your stories, there are rumors this function will soon be removed. It does not trigger original content creation and some users are recycling the same content everywhere by repeatedly sharing the same post. Your story should contain it’s own content, separate from what you post in your feeds.
What Are Some Strategies for Using my Instagram Story Feature Effectively?
Post At Regular Intervals Throughout the Day!
My number one tip for optimizing your story is to post regularly throughout the day. You don’t want to post all your stories at one time – spreading them out will have a much better effect and keep your followers checking back for more.
Why is this? Because, Instagram favours recent content! When you add to your story, Instagram will reward you with prioritized real estate, i.e. your story will be bumped up the list of your follower’s stories, and thus more likely to be seen. Spreading your stories throughout the day means you are consistently keeping your story fresh and at the top of the story feed.
Posting up to 5 stories a day will increase the retention of your stories by 70%. For every additional story you share, you can increase your reach by 10% each time.
Try to spread it out so you share something in the morning, mid day, afternoon, and evening. Turn this into a habit and you will start getting some serious views on your stories. Like with anything, the key here is consistency.
Use Interactive Tools!
The original concept of social media was to give people a way to interact with each-other, so utilize that! Adding some interactive tools will give your followers different ways to connect with your content instead of just viewing it and swiping away.
For example, let’s say you add a poll to a story, asking viewers to vote for one band over another. Your followers will interact by voting, and Instagram rewards interactions by keeping your story in the forefront! Not just that, but you’ll find your fans appreciate it and remember it.
However, don’t add tons of interactive tools all over each post in the hopes of ramping up interactions – that will get old very quickly. Look for opportunities to add it in that fit the purpose and the content – you want to add value, not make your content look messy.
Use Text Over Stories!
Adding brief summary text over your content will help your followers not only get value from your content, but also optimizes the content you share the most. Whenever I share a story – like a thought of the day post – I try to summarize what I am saying into small text brackets over my story. If my followers see my story, hear what I have to say, and have the text to summarize it, I will have made an impression through multiple formats in just a few seconds. Sometimes story content doesn’t show you or what you’re doing, but just a few seconds of your day with a thought shared via text, and that’s okay!
Use Your Music!
Let’s say you prefer not to speak or show yourself, and need another alternative to create content for your story. Use your music! My friend Dwayne Muffin walks around showing beautiful scenes in Ibiza with his music playing over it. By fitting some tracks to the story, you can entertain your audience with music and video alone. This is also a great way to promote your music – the repetitiveness you create can build up awareness. If your followers hear it enough, they may look up and listen to the whole track – TikTok has proven it!
More on Creating Short-Form Videos to Promote Your Music Here!
If you aren’t already, start utilizing these tips and tools to grow your story content. Make a daily posting schedule and stick to it until it becomes a habit. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time on raw content for your story, but it’s an important part of building a following on Instagram. Polished Feed Posts will get you followers, but showing your real, personable, behind the scenes side will gain you fans!