It’s not enough anymore to post a photo of your finished product on social media. Sure, audiences appreciate a pretty picture (who doesn’t?), but with the rise of in-the-moment platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, followers are increasingly looking for more realtime engagement.
Many makers and creatives are turning to Instagram Stories to give a glimpse behind the scenes, with an unfiltered look at the processes behind their crafts. Since Stories won’t stick around their social feed for long, they can share more casually to build a deeper bond with their audiences.
Here’s how a few of the Internet’s most creative makers (and Tailwind members) are taking advantage of Instagram Stories to increase engagement with their followers.
Use Instagram Stories to showcase your technical skill
Jennifer Johansson, a fine artist based in Carbondale, Illinois, has used Instagram Stories to show her audience how she’s creating a new collection of work, all with ballpoint pen. Jennifer takes videos at several points throughout her process and reveals the finished work at the end at @jenniferjohansson. She says she’s gotten a great response to the Stories so far because people like seeing how she uses “such a mundane drawing instrument” to make her work.
“What I do is different; it’s not like putting acrylic paint on a canvas. I’m cutting paper and using ballpoint pens to make the details. People couldn’t wrap their minds around the process. So being able to show that through Instagram Stories is really helpful.”
Jennifer loves seeing brands showcase their products not just in photos, but in videos that walk their audience through how to use the product. She’s taken that route with her coloring books after receiving several questions from customers about how to color with colored pencils. Jennifer has chalked up rising product sales to being open and educative.
“For a lot of artists for a lot of years, you didn’t do that. You had your little secret and you didn’t want to share it with others because people would copy. But that’s done with. Teaching is a huge part of what businesspeople do these days. Whether you like it or not, people are drawn to that.”'Teaching is a huge part of what business people do these days.' @jennifermullin
Use Instagram Stories to show your creative process
Take a look at @stacey_homemaker’s Instagram account and you’ll see a perfectly curated grid of healthy dishes. The scenes are arranged deliberately, and the food is finessed just so. Stacey Eckert, who runs the blog staceyhomemaker.com, has used Stories to complement her planned Instagram feed. She shows more of herself and her less-polished day-to-day happenings through Stories.
Recently the Tampa-based blogger created a Story around a pizza she made for dinner. She wasn’t in blogging mode, so she turned her everyday activity into an Instagram Story and shared how to make the pizza dough, what toppings to add and how to bake the pie. By hearing her voice walk them through the steps and by seeing authentic photos of her process, her audience gets a better sense of who she is and feels a stronger connection with her.
What’s more? The Stories have actually led to more pageviews on her blog. She’ll post a photo of the finished dish and tell her followers to watch her Story to see step by step how it’s made. Once they watch the Story and see how simple it is to make, they head to her blog to find the recipe. She’s seen an uptick in traffic coming from Instagram now that she’s posting Stories consistently.By posting Instagram Stories consistently @HomemakerStacey has seen an uptick in referral traffic
Stories also have helped Stacey follow the mission of her blog.
“My main goal is to show people how easy it is to eat healthfully,” she said. “It’s hard to convey that just by writing about it in an Instagram post. Being able to show people that the ingredients aren’t scary and the steps aren’t hard is so much more meaningful in a video.”
Use Instagram Stories to create a strong bond with your followers
Sam Ellis with the Culinary Compass uses Instagram Stories at @theculinarycompass to share her food adventures as she travels around her hometown of California, Maryland. She’s also used Stories to show how to set up a video or how to throw together a quick meal.
She says it’s also an easy way to alert her audience that she’s published a new blog post. And putting the content in a Story, in addition to posting a photo, ups the chances people will see the blog post.
Instagram Stories are giving followers a chance to see their favorite bloggers in a different light and, as Sam says, show “that everyday life isn’t always as curated as the Instagram feed. It’s easy to be intimidated by the accounts that always look perfectly polished. The IG Stories make people more relatable.”'Instagram Stories make people more relatable.' @culinaryc0mpass
The foodie enjoys watching other bloggers cook through recipes that are already on their sites. They’ll start with a screenshot of the recipe and walk their audience through it step by step through the Story. Also of interest to Sam: any behind-the-scenes Stories of how bloggers set up their photo shoots or style their dishes.
“It’s fun to see the creative process through someone else’s eyes. It’s also nice to see that everyone isn’t perfect. Dishes that ended up burnt or a dirty kitchen show that everyone has those days.”
Use Instagram Stories to share how you make creative choices
Raluca Curciuc of Creative Summer Studio, a website with tips for entrepreneurs, bloggers and website owners, detailed her experiences with Instagram Stories in a recent blog post, “Instagram Stories vs SnapChat.” She has used Instagram Stories at @creativesummerstudio to share sneak peeks of her creative process in writing new blog posts, creating color palettes and playing with new fonts.
Our 100th post celebrates the new Instagram feature. ❤️ With Instagram Stories we get the best of both worlds, the live, funny photos & videos from Snapchat and the engaged audience from Instagram. We share our opinion about this Instagram Stories vs Snapchat battle in our latest article #linkinbio. The winner is by far Instagram ? What do you think about it? Yay or Nay? What about the future of Snap? I really think this is a great opportunity for them to be innovative and to create something amazing in the future.
Raluca echoes Sam’s thoughts about humanizing bloggers. The blogger from Bucharest, Romania, says online audiences want to follow people, not brands, and they’re seeking out real people with real stories. They’re curious about the faces behind the blogs and how they can connect with those people on a personal level.
“We want to know what it’s like to create a new blog post, to make a photoshoot, to travel a lot or to try a new recipe. I encourage everybody to be more personal, to share a little bit more about themselves and their path. It’s not a shame to recognize that things are not always pretty or that we make mistakes. We don’t know when we can inspire somebody else to do something amazing, just by sharing how we really are.”'It’s not a shame to recognize that things are not always pretty.' @creativsummer
Stay ahead of Instagram’s algorithm
With ever-changing social media algorithms that mean fewer people see your posts, it’s increasingly important for bloggers to stay in the know about small changes and improvements they can make to their digital content or steps they can take to make their jobs more efficient.
Sam has found success with the Culinary Compass by saving a Snap she’s taken in the past 24 hours and posting duplicate content as her Instagram Story.
Hold back information to create drama and increase engagement
Lisa Snyder of thebearfootbaker.com hasn’t jumped into Instagram Stories just yet, but her @thebearfootbaker how-to videos detailing her cookie decorating have become wildly popular on Instagram and have even landed her in Tailwind’s inaugural Facebook Live episode of “What’s Working on Instagram?”
Lisa recently posted a video of herself decorating sugar cookies without giving away what the design was until the end (Spoiler alert: they’re ballet slippers, not avocados). That, she said, has proved fruitful for online engagement, and it’s a lesson she thinks those who are posting Instagram Stories can learn from.
“I used to show the picture up front, but now they don’t know what I’m making until the end,” said the blogger from the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. “It piques their curiosity. It’s like a trainwreck; they have to keep watching!”
Lisa hopes she can find the same success when she dives into Instagram Stories. For now, she’s observing how other bloggers are using the new feature to connect with their Instagram audience. Whatever she does, she knows she wants it to be personal and give followers a chance to see more of her life that typically doesn’t make it into the spotlight.
“I’m really private about my home and messes I make when I create. I’ve never really shared that in the past, but I think Stories would be a great place for that.”
How do you use Instagram Stories to engage your followers?
We want to hear from you in the comments below! How have you used Instagram Stories to share your creative process? What advice would you give other makers using Stories?
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Marketing and PR professional. Into: books, bikes, freelance writing, homemade ice cream, petting your cat.