5 Rules For Using Instagram Stories Like a Boss

Bathing Suit on the beachAs I’m sure you’re aware, Instagram had a mic-drop moment yesterday with its release of Stories. Basically, it’s copying Snapchat (For real, the Instagram CEO even admitted it) and is enabling people to share content via the app that doesn’t stay on your feed and disappears in 24 hours.

At first I was a little irked by this blatant “me too” attempt by the app. “Really, Instagram? You can’t think of your own way-in here?” – Me, yesterday. See? Annoyed.

But then I took a step back and realized that: 1. They’re being smart by capitalizing on popular user behavior, 2. It’s a great way to share more authentic moments with followers, and 3. This means one less social account I need to keep up with. (Byeeee Snapchat – I’m for sure not doing both!) This last point is really key for me, because as a full time working mother who also maintains a blog, social media can be hard, ‘yall.

Now, while I may not have the biggest following (I’m working on it!) I do know a thing or two about branding and digital marketing. (Context for new followers: my day job is as the Digital Engagement Manager for McDonald’s, guiding all the campaign content & creative for their social accounts.) So as a brand builder, both personally and professionally, I’ve got a few pieces of advice for those who are interested in hearing it.

Here are my 5 rules for using Instagram Stories like a boss.IMG_8923Rule #1: Don’t Over Share

Yes, like Snapchat, Instagram Stories make sharing easy. And – great! – your Stories will disappear within 24 hours. But this doesn’t mean you should share absolutely everything in your day.

Am I the only person who thinks, “Dear Lord, put your phone down already!” when I see someone sharing everything from the meal they just ate, to 5 separate posts of the view they’re looking at, to every step of their walk on their way to working out? 50 posts later I am left wondering what just happened and how I can get those few minutes of my life back.

News flash: No one really cares about seeing everything you are doing, every moment of the day. Seriously. Be more selective. Oversharing just makes people swipe out of your Story and less likely to want to check out more of your content later.

Here’s a great question to ask yourself: What is the “So What?” for viewers? Is what you’re sharing informative, relatable, engaging or entertaining? If you can’t say “Yes” to one of these pillars, put your phone down and just say no. The other key thing to remember is not to be repetitive. If you shared a scene once, once is really enough, unless you’re showing something different or have additional context to give. Black leather leggings_Black knee high boots_Top Chicago bloggers-11Rule #2: Don’t Just Post to Post

This plays into Rule #1, but it’s a big one. It’s easy to feel pressured to post all. the. time. Best practices will tell you to keep content consistent and make sure you’re active on social. I’m here to tell you that while consistency and activity is most definitely important, that doesn’t mean that you should feel pressured to post all day, errr day. Post when you’ve got something to say, but don’t just post because you feel pressured to post. Practice quality over quantity.Vaseline lip therapy_Valentines Day Style_Beauty blogger in Chicago-10Rule #3: Tell A Story

The best Snaps tell a story, and this will be true for Instagram Stories as well. (They’re pretty creative with that name, eh?)

It’s important to note that Stories don’t have to be super drawn out. You can tell an interesting Story in :10. In fact, some of the most creative Snaps and Stories I’ve seen do this really, really well. A simple moment — like showcasing a beautiful sunset or your outfit of the day — can be a story within itself.

It’s also important to note that a lot of little stories can ladder up to your broader brand story. Use the platform to share little moments of your day to let readers in on your life and to highlight the little moments that you wouldn’t be able to on other social channels.

Just remember, sharing your life is not as important as living it. Black Blazer Chicago Fashion Blogger-18Rule #4: Embrace the Authentic & Imperfect

Instagram by nature is a heavily-curated platform. I know that I personally put a lot of thought into the content that I share as I have an image style I adhere to that I don’t tend to break from. But, the beauty of having a post disappear after 24 hours is that you can share things without feeling the need to have it so curated and perfect. Embrace this!

Some of my favorite people to follow are those who showcase the good, and sometimes bad, parts of their day. They share snippets that make me smile, are great scene setters, let me in on what they love, and most importantly, are relatable. I often feel like I’m friends with those who I follow, which is a really powerful thing to harness, and something that I hope to be for my readers as well. Being authentic, and yes, imperfect, is the biggest factor here.Mystic Connecticut_Things to do in Mystic_Best places to travel on East Coast-6

Rule #5: Share The Love

Your life is likely made up of many people, places and things. These aspects are what help to make you you, so be sure to share things other than yourself talking at the camera. (Constant camera talking can be redundant if done too often and frequently.) It’ll help to vary your content, and will help to give viewers context into your surroundings.

It’s amazing that technology can connect us all and give insight into the lives of one another the way that Snapchat, and now Instagram, can. Use Instagram Stories to share youthe un-curated yet thoughtful version — and your followers will love every moment.

Have other pieces of advice? Any thoughts on Instagram rolling out Stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

PS – Want more good reads? Check out My Day at the Grammys & This Summer’s Big Realization.



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3 thoughts on “5 Rules For Using Instagram Stories Like a Boss

  1. Stephanie

    I personally love the added touches you can now access on Instagram, like Boomerang. But what I want to know is how people use their SnapChat filters of ‘Dog face’ on their Instagram stories?

    1. Emily | Isn't That Charming Post author

      What I’ve done is made a story in Snapchat leveraging their filters, saved it in my camera roll, and then uploaded it into Instagram stories. A good workaround! I hope Instagram has filters in their future – it’d be fun to use those natively on the platform!


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