A story is a post that is typically brought to you by using a different feed than the majority of a user’s content, which happens to be only accessible a short time. Following this, the story will vanish and no longer be around.
Stories could take a variety of formats. Frequently, they will be videos, but they may also be still images. Besides that, a typical trope for stories on numerous platforms is to permit the employment of stickers and text.
These are typically positioned on top of the main media, providing them with pride of position and resulting in very impressive engagement and open rates.
Stories for Trust, Engagement, and Personal Brands
If you’re accustomed to conventional types of marketing, and if you’ve been making ads and posts for Instagram and Facebook for some time now, you very well may come to terms with thinking in a more clear-cut and immediate manner. Marketing makes leads, and ads make sales.
Yet in truth, Stories are not for either of such elements. Stories are beautifully appropriate not to increase the number of followers you have, OR for selling straight away to those followers. Therefore, if that’s the situation, what is this type of marketing for?
The basic fact is that it is for building more robust relationships with your current followers. It’s about deepening that relationship – and that’s significant with regards to growing profits in the long run.
How can you arrive at this point with your followers, though, and just what does it have to do with Stories? There are numerous methods you build true fans. An example may be with a definite goal statement for your business. One is by understanding exactly who your online business is “for,” which means that you recognize the psychology of your buyer persona.
But the other is through meaningful interactions. And in the case of Stories, that will likewise imply building a personal brand.
Before getting into the techie particulars, it’s first essential to look at the very idea of your story. Is this a thing people are interested in? Are you overdoing it?
Quantity and frequency are a big thing to consider for many creators making social media Stories. So then precisely how often should you post and at what time of day?
Regarding quantity, the typical recommendation for social networking, in general, is that you should post maybe once or twice each day. This has been demonstrated by studies to be far better than posting either more or less regularly. The trouble with this, however, is that Stories function differently from other posts and so we can’t extrapolate this info.
Your Stories don’t have to be very high quality. That is generally regarded as being one of their most significant benefits: that they can be produced quickly and don’t need to be works of art.
So, with respect to the character of your brand, you might decide to be noticeable with a highly refined and beautiful Story.
At the minimum, understanding some basics about photography, editing, framing, and more can help to raise the level of your Stories and all the rest of your content for that matter!
Types of Photos
The first thing to do is to note the types of photos you want for your account. If you have a B2B company, then your imagery will be entirely different for the imagery you’ll use around a travel blog.
A business, for instance, might show the team working hard on a new project, or might post about a new product release. A travel vlogger, on the other hand, might film themselves talking about a long flight, or might upload a panorama of a stunning hotel room.
The general idea of Stories is usually to provide some form of privileged access to the most hardcore fans and to let them feel as though you are speaking directly to them. For a vlogger, this is easy, but for significant business, it can be a challenge to tow that line between professionalism and feeling ‘raw’ and authentic.
Making it Look Professional
The first way to ensure that your images look professional is to use a good camera. This is very important and can be the difference between images that look amateurish and images that have the professional sheen. If you intend to take all your Story photos from a phone – which is an option – then make sure it is one with a good camera. The best opportunities right now are the Google Pixel phones or Apple iPhones.
Using a high-quality camera doesn’t necessarily detract from the ‘behind the scenes’ feel of a Story. A shot of your office after-hours is still a shot of the office after hours, but by using a high-quality camera, you show your business in a slightly better light.
Likewise, while you might have a messy desk in real-life, this is something else you might want to tone down. Not only will the image look better if the background is less cluttered, but it will also present your business as a more organized one. You want to show people a little behind the curtain but still ensure that your image is carefully orchestrated.
It would help if you also thought a little bit about the composition of your photos. Don’t just point and click, but instead arrange the various elements in a way that gives your photo depth. For instance, using a path leading into the distance can draw the eye from the center to a focal point, while at the same time giving your image a greater 3D feeling. Likewise, choosing images that are in both the foreground and background can give your picture more layers.
Framing is another useful strategy which means taking a photo so that there’s an element such as a tree along one side of the photo, while you should also look at the different ways to play with expectations: the subject doesn’t have to go right in the middle of the shot, why not have them slightly to one side? Making pictures exciting and showing that you gave at least a little thought to them can make a massive difference to the way that they come across.
Consider lighting too. Don’t just shoot a person with a strong light source behind them, as they’ll look dark and the exposure will be all wrong. The best angle for lighting is for it to hit the subject at a 90-degree angle. Take that extra moment, and your shot will look all the better for it.
How to Photograph Products
This becomes extremely important if you want to promote a product. This is one scenario where you want to ensure your brand looks professional, and that the subject of the photo has a sheen and an appeal.
To photograph a product, there are a few different things to keep in mind. Some of these are things we’ve already considered. For example, it’s essential to consider lighting. Here, investing in at least a small lightbox can make a huge difference by creating some dramatic shadows.
Thinking about the backdrop is also important. And one of the most popular options when it comes to backdrops for products is plain white. A MacGyver way to achieve that is simply to take a white bed sheet and then to pull it taut over a table or similar. Now you can stand your product in the middle and shine your light just how you want it.
ALWAYS make sure that the product is crystal clean. Find a microfiber cloth and take the time to wipe it down. Otherwise, a few fingerprints or a little bit of dust or lint can make it seem significantly less impressive.
Another option is to zoom right in on specific aspects of your product. If you choose a camera wide a wide aperture, then you can set the focus to the extreme foreground. This will blur out everything in the background, which is ideal if you want to show off – say – the keyboard on a shiny new computer. Then there is always the argument for showing products in use and the way that they help make their owners’ lives better.
Photo Editing With Photoshop
And of course, don’t forget to edit! If you really want to take your Stories to the next level, then doing a little editing before uploading them can make a world of difference.
Learning to use Photoshop is a very worthwhile skill to develop and one that can be useful in a large number of situations. Of course, if you’re at all interested in web design, graphic design, photography, art, or even app development, being able to create your own backgrounds and images will be a great help and could also enhance your career! And actually, being able to list Photoshop skills on a CV can help with a great many different jobs.
But of course, what we’re interested in right now, is using Photoshop for Stories. So how do you go about starting to learn?
Come Up With a Small Project
A perfect piece of advice when trying to learn any new skill is to give yourself a small project to work towards. In other words, rather than just blindly trying to acquire as much information about Photoshop as you can – start with a particular image in mind that you want to edit and then look up the skills necessary to do that as you go.
What this does, it gives you a foundation and a direction that allows you to ground what you’re learning in some kind of context. It means you learn why specific skills are useful and how to use them – rather than just learning more abstractly. It also makes the learning process much more rewarding!
Remember, when you plan on editing photos in Photoshop or another piece of editing software, you should always shoot in RAW with a flat color profile. This removes the ‘post processing’ that most cameras apply by default, which in turn gives you more raw information to play with. Ultimately, it makes it easier for you to bring your vision for that photo to life and gives you more options for ways to do that.
Take to YouTube
If you’re looking for information on how to use Photoshop, then you’ll find no shortage of tutorials that talk you through it.
Just make sure that you look for popular videos that talk about using the same version of Photoshop that you’re using!
Think about the types of photos you’ll be taking for your Stories and the skills you need. If you’re only going to be taking photos of products, then you probably don’t need to spend a whole deal of time learning about removing pimples. Take a look at your competitors and ask what things they’re doing that you would like to learn!
Watch Speed Art
Another tip is to watch ‘speed art’ on Photoshop (which can also be found on YouTube). These are quick videos where someone puts together an impressive image while showing off a wide range of different Photoshop skills. By watching the techniques they use, you can quickly learn how to employ similar strategies in your own art.
Finally, though, the most important part of the process is just to play and experiment with ideas yourself! Find some time to put the skills you’ve learned to use and to apply a little trial and error to your images. This is how you’ll really learn what works and what doesn’t – as well as how you’ll discover your own style and the types of techniques you’re going to use most often. No two people will approach Photoshop in the same way, so there are some things you can’t learn from a book or a course. The only way to really get the skills you need is to get stuck in. And this also happens to be the most fun way to learn!
While Photoshop will give you the most advanced photo editing skills, there are many more apps and options you can use to create better images for your Stories. We’ll share those in a moment.
While many creators will get by using only photos for their stories, knowing how to create great video content is an important trick to have up your sleeve. Video is more instantly captivating, it allows you to get more information across more quickly, and it is ideal for showing some personality.
The problem is that many business owners completely freeze at the prospect of making a video. The following tips should help.
First of all, your video must be crisp and high definition. You’re trying to make your business look high tech and professional here, and if it looks like you used a camera that came from a Christmas cracker, then you really won’t send that message. At the same time, the clearer your footage, the clearer your message will be.
This is less of a problem these days as even the most affordable phone comes with a somewhat decent camera. But still, if this is going to become a large part of your business, then it’s worth investing in something outstanding. Think about the quality of the rear shooting camera AND the selfie camera. And shoot in portrait… of course!
Spend as much time worrying about your sound as you do about your image quality. Again this needs to be crisp, clear and loud, and that means that you need to make sure that you have a good quality camera and that you’re close enough to the mic. If you sound like you’re underwater, then people will turn off.
The right music can really enhance your video and create the mood you’re trying to sell. At the same time, though, this needs to be music that you own the rights to and that you are allowed to use, and it needs to be edited in such a way that it fits the length of your video.
This is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd, seeing as a lot of Stories don’t use any backing music for precisely those reasons. Music instantly helps set the mood, and again helps you to stand out.
If your video features people talking or being filmed, then these people need to look the part – ideally, choose the members of staff that come across well on camera.
Again, you walk a fine line here between showing an authentic vibe at your business and a polished and staged version of your reality. But just giving your staff (or yourself) a few pointers can make a huge difference. Try to speak more slowly.
You also need to choose surroundings for your video that look professional and that don’t distract from the message. Choose a spot in your office that looks clean and tidy, and find a way to
Just as photo editing can make all the difference to your photos, the same is true of your video editing. This is an easy way to improve your presentation skills too – cut out the dead air (any silence between takes), and the videos will become instantly more snappy, engaging, and professional.
The following are powerful apps and resources that you can use to up your social media Stories game!
The great thing about Stories is that they can really be anything. If it’s a photo or a short video, then it’s fair game for a Story! One of the most interesting types of video you can upload to a Story is a timelapse. This is a stop- motion video made up of hundreds or thousands of stills taken over a long duration. You might use this to show time-passing outside your office for instance, or to show a whole workout in 1 minute.
That’s certainly true of time lapse videos. These are short videos that consist of stop- motion made up of lots of still images taken over a long time from a single spot. They’re perfect for showing customers pass by a store for instance, or for showing an entire workout in under a minute.
Invest in a good camera and you can first edit pictures on the computer before uploading them via your mobile device.
That means you can now use professional editing software such as Photoshop to apply airbrushing or to add other enhancements. If you don’t want to shell out for Photoshop though, why not try using Gimp? This is a piece of free software with almost all the same features as Photoshop!
Also from Adobe Creative Cloud is Adobe Spark. This is a powerful tool that can help you take your Stories to the next level by including attractive text animations and much more.
Adobe Spark is an app that lets you create animated graphics and text. It gives you a bunch of templates and it can truly elevate your Stories to the next level. You’ll get loads of people contacting you just to ask “how you did it!”
Lumafusion is a piece of video editing software that runs on mobile (currently iOS only). This immediately makes something that a lot of creators have been hoping for for a long time. If you create a lot of Stories for social media, then a tool like this will allow you to quickly and affordably create much more professional looking clips that better engage the audience.
Pixlr is an app that allow you to apply a large selection of effects not available through Instagram or Snapchat alone. You’ll gain many more filters, as well as settings that let you change things such as contrast, color temperature and more.
More importantly, Pixlr will let you add text to your images and also create beautiful collages featuring multiple pictures. Pixlr not only adds a whole bunch of Instagram-filters you can use on other platforms, but it also provides the option to create interesting and more ambitious collages from your photos.
Another great example of a unique type of content that can be shared as a Story comes from Mindly. This is a mind map creating app that can result in some beautiful looking images. These are great for sharing your thought process with the world!
Instagram Widget by WPZoom
Instagram Widget by WPZoom is a Widget for WordPress sites that will let you embed a feed of your Instagram pictures right into your sidebar. This way, people who visit your site will see that you have an active Instagram account and will be able to see the kinds of inspiring images that you post. If they like what they see, then chances are that they will click on the images and follow you on Instagram.
This is a great way to gain momentum for your main Instagram account, and to create better synergy with a blog. From there, your Stories will make more of a positive impact.
Did you know there are a bunch of advanced features you can use to get more out of your Stories? These not only help your Story to look all the more professional but also create a bunch of new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the best.
For example, you can easily share photos from your Instagram feed to your Stories by heading to the Share button and choosing “Add to My Story.”
One of the most useful reasons to do this is so that you can then use the “Tap Here” sticker. There are a bunch of them, but if you pick the one that you like the looks of most, they’ll all do the same job. This will then take the viewer to your post.
So if you have written a post that shares some insider knowledge, you can then invite your followers to tap on the Story and get taken straight there to read. Of course, if this also happens to be a post that converts followers into buyers… even better!
Another option is to move away from still photos and videos altogether. A picture can be anything, for example: why not use a mind map? Mindly is an excellent app for iOS that lets you create beautiful Mind Maps entirely for free.
Use Stock Imagery
Don’t have the camera skills yourself? Then why not find stock photography you can use? There are plenty of free sites, but if you’re going to be doing this often, then paying for a good source such as Envato Elements is a great choice.