An Instagrammer’s Look at Instagram Stories
Why I’d still rather you follow me on Instagram.
But, first. Let me tell you about the first time I saw Snapchat.
It was early 2012. I had just spent 12+ hours documenting a wedding by way of photography. With my feet throbbing and my shoulders sore from my DSLR’s constant weight…
I was lost at ‘disappearing images.’
It’s true that between the moment my friend tried to sell me on this “great new app” with “disappearing photos” and Snapchat Stories coming out in late 2013, I went from “That’ll never happen.” to seeing the appeal of this app and the world within it.
The trouble I had (and still have!) with Snapchat is the almighty Time Suck.
I struggled consistently in finding a way to seamlessly incorporate Snapchat into my daily life and regular routine of social.
When I had time for it, great.
Rarely did I go out of my way for Snapchat.
And this is from someone who GETS Snapchat and loves its storytelling capabilities.
Snapchat, if anything, taught me not to judge an app by first impression alone. And, hey, I don’t actually have to be in ALL the places, ALL the time.
I understand Snapchat.
I love Snapchat.
I focus on Instagram.
What’s Your Instagram Story?
Mine certainly doesn’t start here, but on the afternoon of August 2, 2016…my dog’s account beat out all the others I manage in getting Instagram Stories.
Yes, the dog has her own Instagram! Tell me you aren’t surprised.
Photographer + Dog = Dog Gets an Instagram Account.
Kimbee and I, obviously, gave it a quick go right then and there. I needed to know how this thing operated in the wild.
And, I LOVED IT.
As quickly as I was hooked on Instagram back in January 2011, I surprisingly latched on to Instagram stories. I wasn’t sure that was something that could happen so quickly — my experience with IG all but shows early IGers have trouble with IG being anything but IG. 😝
Initially, I loved that I could share more about Kimbee right then & there within her own page and her own unique followers without adding one.more.account —for me, this doesn’t disrupt my experience with Instagram and feels like two birds/one stone vs. running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to be everywhere at once.
I could instantly see why I would use Instagram Stories MORE than Snapchat, and maybe others would too.
On the spot, I thought of friends with blogs who produce great content, but — similar to me — struggle with the “one more app” syndrome of Snapchat and growing an audience there. Friends who LOVE Instagram, who attend events, and can now share further insight into what they’re experiencing. Friends who travel, typically only sharing a photo here or there, can now invite us to wander further alongside them — without having to leave Instagram.
Those moments we’ve so carefully selected to share, now have an entirely new door to them. This goes faaaaar beyond the like and comment, m’friends.
The social media manager part of my brain idea hopped between great ways this new feature could be used for MANY who already know and love IG.
The ability to NOW post your one, singular “best of” image and STILL be able to share more (without holding my Instagram feed hostage with your 600 photos that will also appear within 30 seconds on my Facebook feed…) is a truly beautiful thing.
Hopefully folks can find a cadence here that makes sense, isn’t overwhelming, and legitimately adds value to everyone’s Instagram experience.
Why Instagram Stories is a-okay with Me:
- I spend MOST of my time in Instagram.
I’m already there. I have LIVED there since Instagram began— well before Snapchat was a twinkle in the eyes of those who created it. Instagram is the place I’ve called “home” on social media for nearly 6 years. Beyond Facebook. Beyond Twitter. Instagram is the place where I feel most content, and the most connected.
This is where I go to be inspired, to see places I can only dream of visiting, and see how other photographers/creatives are storytelling.
If I get sick of the world — I go to Instagram to bury my face in images of palm trees, sunsets, and adorable puppies.
Yes, it has gone from the early days of “share all the images” to an extremely curated “best of” feed — but, still. I’d like to think that THIS is where people can really get to know me. One image at a time.
2. Instagram is already a part of my daily routine.
I am constantly taking photos and editing while in motion specifically for Instagram. I love this platform for consistently challenging me in BEING a better photographer.
Instagram without solid photography= you’re doing it wrong.
(more on this in a minute.)
3. I love what Snapchat has to offer — but, it takes TIME.
It is no secret that Snapchat is not a natively intuitive app. It took many a YouTube video featuring a 15-year-old Snapchatter for me to pick up some of the tricks behind the platform.
But even beyond the lag in quickly picking it all up — It now takes a solid amount of time for me to get over there, find people to follow, watch all their stories, interact, not feel like I’m following too many people and thus burning out, and THEN creating my own stories.
By this time…I wonder if anyone even cares?
And, if we’re being honest, I’m almost too tired to care.
I get that most on Snapchat fly by the seat of their pants. It’s about being random, and real, and raw, and rapidly in the moment. All things I’m totally down with. But even when I’m all of those things? I still feel like it’s taking more time than I’m honestly willing to give some days.
There is a reason that I tell people I “randomly appear” on Snapchat, and I get that this goes against the very rule in being consistent to attract new followers. But, y’all. I’ve got a life. And Snapchat is just one more thing on my list of “When I get to it…”
Instagram is my multiple-visits-a-day to nearly nonstop app.
4. A lot of the allure on Snapchat was that I saw the difference between what I was posting on Instagram and what went into Snapchat.
Instagram was about solidly curated moments, “Best of” content, that while — for me — was consistently caught “in the moment” I certainly still edited before sharing. Yes, it’s edited. Yes, it’s curated. Yes, it’s sometimes painstakingly thought out and crafted. But, y’know what…that’s photography and the art of storytelling in a lot of ways for me too.
And I’m all about living THAT life. It’s who I am.
Instagram is my scrapbook on the coffee table for the whole world to see.
I capture moments, edit — not to distort, but to enhance — and cherish the hell out of the stories that unfold. So, yeah. Those are, typically, the ‘better’ glimpses of my days — but don’t be fooled by curation. I’ve also shared more about my thyroid disorder on Instagram than I have on Facebook. I’ve shared about my sister who died, and things that really hurt. And, often, I felt more comfortable doing it on IG than anywhere else.
Snapchat was everything else. Quirky. Weird. Raw. And while, “Real” is often a word I see connected to Snapchat — I don’t know if this is where I’d bring the conversation about my thyroid. From what I’ve experienced on Snapchat, people want silliness. My thyroid really isn’t that humorous…although, with the right filter I guess anything is possible. 😉
Instagram stories changes all of this. Now, I can have my beautifully edited image — that one snapshot in time — AND my random, quirky, “behind the scenes” type moments and thoughts. All in one spot.
The way I see Instagram Stories working for me is pretty basic — You dig that awesome photo of Cinderella’s castle I just posted? Well…here’s even more from that entire day at Disney.
I can get on board with that — easily.
- I think this will open your world to who you’re REALLY following on Instagram: I follow a lot of people that I don’t really know besides their “one awesome photo a day/week/month” —usually, I find them by way of hashtag. You might be a great photographer, but perhaps you are also the Lord of Dirtbags in real life. Maybe I don’t want to follow that kind of person.
I’ve already unfollowed a couple of people who decided they were going to use Instagram Stories to spew negativity into my life (not personally, just generally) — they got a swift boot to the Land of the Unfollowed. Because, listen…your unreasonable venting and negativity the second you try out a new feature ISN’T what I’m on Instagram for.
SPOILER ALERT: By and large, the IG Community STILL isn’t all about your marketing or “me, me, me” drivel either. So I don’t know that IG Stories is where you spotlight that. You, obviously, know your audience better than I do. So, that factors in heavily. But, in my world, you can take the world’s best photos — if you’re doing IG (or IG Stories) “wrong” and don’t add value to my day…I’ll likely give ye’ the boot same as anywhere else. Ye’ be warned.
2. If I want to watch stories, I do. If I don’t — a tiny thumb scroll gets me to the images I know and love. I think Instagram Stories will help amplify the IG community that’s already there. I’ve already seen from photographers I’ve followed over the years that they love how they’ve been able to connect even further with other photographers — we’re now HEARING each other’s voices! And I’ve heard many explain that, yes, likely, those same photographers are over on Snapchat — but it’s harder to find them, not as intuitive…now it’s all right in front of you.
That speaks volumes.
3. Here’s a Biggie — How Do I Grow My Audience for Instagram Stories? Y’all. I’m about to rock your world — so I’ma need you to sit down for a sec….
TAKE. BETTER. PHOTOS.
Whew! Okay. I feel better now.😅
Read the words I’m typing, y’all — Instagram has ALWAYS, before the dawn of time, been about PHOTOGRAPHY.
Do not abandon that core meaning of why this platform exists.
Yes, they’re putting an emphasis on video. But, at the end of the day, Instagram is about GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY.
If you want to grow your audience on Instagram for ANY reason — Get to the basics: Take well lit, in focus, vibrant images that are composed in uniquely thoughtful ways and show YOUR vision, while helping to tell YOUR story. Hashtag those puppies up until the cows come home, or until you hit 30 hashtags…whichever comes first. CONNECT with others on Instagram.
Instagram is not a “set it and forget it” platform. Take a photo, edit, insert fun caption, hashtag-hashtag-hashtag, post. Like. Comment. Follow. Repeat.
I don’t know what IG Stories means for engagement rates, how the algorithm works and plays into all of this, etc. What I do know is that you’ll never grow your Instagram following without being one with the IG community and how they tell a story and connect with one another.
Photography and visual storytelling is at the heart of Instagram — do.not.forget.that.
Although…Im not super crazy about them ripping off Snapchat…I do think I’ll use Instagram Stories WAY MORE than Snapchat.
Do I think I will use it every day? Nope. (Although, @KimbeeTheGSP probably will!) 😂
Do I think people who DO use it in a similar fashion to Snapchat will get old? Possibly. (I might’ve already felt a tinge of this…)
Do I think you should re-purpose Snapchat content and spew it all over IG Stories for the sake of having something — anything — up there? For the love of all that is holy, NO. BAD, MARKETERS! STOP IT!
Instagram is Instagram. Snapchat is Snapchat.
Use whichever one you love most, and works best for your specific need.
For me, Instagram Stories will be this:
One great image on my feed that leads to a behind the scenes look — WHEN RELEVANT. (Think: unique experience, trip, fun fact, a random series of moments, etc.) I don’t intend to inundate my followers with IG Stories simply because the capability exists. Ideally, I’d like to make a point of popping in once a week, but…if I’m traveling or doing something neat? It’ll be more — so long as it isn’t holding me hostage and preventing me from actually getting out there & living this life thing.
My focus remains on the photography portion of storytelling within Instagram. IG Stories is just the +1 to this party.
A lot of people are “stuck” on Snapchat — whether you want to call that “hate” or just lack of it being a truly intuitive platform or exhaustion from all the platforms, it doesn’t matter.
Instagram Stories, I think, “unsticks” those people and gives them an all-in-one tool for storytelling. And, when done right, I think that’ll be a pretty awesome addition.
For this Instagrammer, it’s where you will find me.
Casie Shimansky (@TheNameIsCasie) is a Social Media Strategist, Photographer, and Content Designer based in Orlando, FL.