Recently I’ve been obsessing over Instagram stories. I couldn’t understand why my follower count, likes and post reach kept increasing, yet my Instagram story views remained the same. So I decided to do what anyone with an undergrad degree and post grad in law would do -I turned to google. But the results were disappointing. All the articles I came across were just clickbait and the tips were mostly pretty basic.
So then I did what only someone with a pathological obsession would do -I started studying. I observed, took notes and applied. And since applying these techniques, my Instagram story views have doubled in reach in a matter of days.
The Instagram story ‘grab, hold, react’ technique
Instagram’s algorithm may be a bit of a mystery, but one thing’s for sure: high engagement equals more visibility. Luckily, if there’s anything that I have learned from endless hours in front of Netflix, it’s that in every mystery the clues will be right in front of you. And Instagram story insights give us lots of them.
- Sticker taps (the users you tag)
- Link clicks (swipe ups)
- Back taps
- Forward taps
- Away swipes
In all probability, the more replies, link clicks and taps and the fewer forward taps, away swipes and exits, the higher the chance of your content being seen. Not rocket science. This means you need to somehow grab and hold people’s attention with your Instagram story and then cause them to react to it. I call it the ‘grab, hold, react’ technique. Not an easy task though! In a world saturated with media content, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get your Instagram story seen.
1. The basics (grab, hold, react)
I’m going to assume that you already know the basics. But if you don’t here is a quick list.
- Geotags (grab). Always geo tag to maximise views;
- Hashtags (grab)
- Bonus tip: you can hide your hashtags by pinching them so that they become virtually invisible. I once used the hashtag “gaypride2017” at the London gay pride and got 1.5k views just from that. To optimise your chances, use all 10 available hashtags.
- Tags (react). When you tag someone chances are people will want to know who they are and click on them.
- Bonus tip: tag new people. My friend Shelley used to get so many taps at the beginning, but now that everyone knows who she is, the number of taps has gone down. Whenever I tag a new person they get a lot more taps;
- GIFS (grab, hold). I love gifs. a) They are just awesome and fun and you can get super creative with them, and b) they turn a photo into a video. And videos are more likely to end up on the geotag and hashtag stories. Bingo!
- Post frequently (grab). Instagram stories are chronological, so the more you post to your stories, the more chances of getting your story to the top
- Bonus tip: post regularly throughout the day rather than all at once;
- Quality content (hold, react). Don’t post just anything. Your insta stories need to either have a purpose or look aesthetically pleasing.
2. Reccomendations (react)
People love to share their views on things. Think about when you’re telling someone a story about yourself and the recipient starts talking about something similar that happened to them. It’s no wonder social media is so popular -sharing is at the core of our species
E.g. “Does anyone have any good recommendations for a new Netflix series?”
3. Secrets (grab, hold, react)
Who doesn’t love a secret? No one can resist a click bait even when we know it’s just clickbait. People are naturally curious. And curiosity is a powerful tool in the ‘grab, hold, react’ formula.
I mean GOLD! I dare you not to click. Another great example was Sophie Milner, Millie Cotton and Chloe Plumstead’s recent podcast about how much they earned through blogging. Genius! Who wouldn’t want to know?! The only “downside” is that you must be willing to share your secrets. At the end of the day, you want people to trust that they will get what they were promised if you want them to keep coming back.
Here, is what you should not do if you want to write a good title.
4. Instagram story polls (react)
Instagram story polls are great because they force people to interact with you, thus provoking an instinctive ‘reaction’. But make sure you make the poll as easy as possible.
This or that?
E.g. “Do you prefer the blue dress or the yellow dress?”
Ask sensitive questions.
E.g. “Do I look good in this?”
Some people will think you do. However, others might not and will therefore just skip the story. Anyone who says no is just socially inept. But the crucial point here is that you’re missing out on a great opportunity for engagement by asking sensitive questions.
5. Time lapse videos (grab, hold)
I love watching time lapse videos. Luke Catleugh is a master at this. He places his phone directly adjacent to him and records simple tasks in time lapse. You will usually see him either cooking, sipping on a coffee, or studying. It’s like playing sims. He even makes packing a suitcase captivating! Which is both ‘grab’ and ‘hold’ in the ‘grab, hold, react’ formula.
6. Celebrating your success (react)
Hearing about other people’s success is always inspiring, particularly when it’s done in a humble way. And when you share your success with others, people will want to celebrate with you (reaction).
Jamie Cullen posted on his insta stories about the progress he’s achieving in the gym. I DMd him to congratulate him, and I’m guessing many others did too. If he’d only posted a mirror selfie in the gym, he would probably have received half the engagement.
7. Bloggermail (grab, hold, react)
Bloggermail insta stories. I’m not 100% sure on this -some people love them and others hate them (which is a potential for swipe aways). I personally don’t watch them often. However, it is a known fact that haul videos are one of the most popular videos on youtube so I must be part of the exception. Also, most bloggers tend to do them and there is always meaning in numbers.
I hope you found my tips useful. Please do let me know how you get on -I would love to hear what your experience was. And of course, if you have more tips that you’d like to share, I would love to learn all about them!
Bag: Aspinal of London