Style Files | What not to do on Instagram Stories

No matter how early I mentally commit to sleep at; I always find myself a few hours later with my fingers busy scrolling down my phone. Not conducive to getting a full nights sleep, I know; but it feels like the only 15 minutes in the day that I get to lay low and browse at ease. So what do I spent those precious few midnight moments doing? Dropping it on Facebook, a little pinning and without fail, Instagram.

Now, let me confess that Instagram is possibly my favourite social media platform. That's quite an achievement coming from a girl who dabbles in a fair number of them. One, because it's an incredibly visual medium which allows for just the right amount of interaction. Two, it is backed by Facebook and well, who doesn't know and love those guys! So around a month back, I woke up to the roll out of a brand new feature on the platform called Instagram Stories. Obviously, being the Insta fan girl I am, I went ahead with the update from day 1 and it felt remarkable.

An image of a white Starbucks coffee mug filled with hot chocolate topped with foam, whipped cream and cocoa on a wooden table at Starbucks India

To give you a bit of a background, I don't use Snapchat. This is because I've never found the necessity of installing yet another app to announce to the world that I ate Eggs Benedict for breakfast. You're possibly a Snapchatter yourself so you'll know that the Instagram Stories feature dwells on the same lines. It's meant to be personal, narrate your life in the present and disappear in 24 hours. So obviously, my joy knew no bounds to see the birth of Instagram Stories. Not only could I indulge in a more current photo-sharing experience, I didn't need a whole new app, account and set of followers to do it. Win-win!

The first few weeks of using it was fantastic. I was Insta-ing my neighbourhood dog, my desk plant, my daily outfit - everything! What I didn't realise was that it was getting really boring, really quickly. Not only was I hunting for material to fill my Insta Stories, I was left swiping through my feed like no ones business. That got me thinking about the medium as a whole and what, as a viewer, I'd be interested in seeing. After working in social media and digital publishing for a fair bit, my own work and user experience taught me a thing or two. Regardless of whether you represent a brand, are a blogger, influencer or just someone who likes good content, there are few thumb rules that I'd suggest keeping in mind when using Instagram Stories.

Don't:  Do what everyone else is doing. Yes, we know you've got a spanking new make-up package /shopping bag /invite /goodies but watching tape being cut off a box can be exhausting very quickly. Hauls are great and make for the perfect humble brag but it takes more to reel in a viewer.

Do: Shed a little light on why you purchased that particular necklace. Strut your stuff in your new heels. Give us some swatch action with your new lip stain. Flaunting new goodies are one of the perks of having them in the first place so make sure you lend it a new spin rather than turn it into a left swipe-worthy snoozefest.

Don't: Waste those precious moments. As a medium, Instagram Stories is meant to be swift because moving to the next profile is literally on one's fingertips. Instead of taking the long road and rambling about how humid the weather is, use those few seconds wisely to catch your viewers attention.

Do: Dive into the topic. Whether you're zooming into the toppings on your pizza or gushing about Ranbir Kapoor's appearance at the event you are attending, fill those few seconds with something valid that will make a viewer want to keep watching.

An image of Loreal eyeliner and lip gloss being swiped and swatched onto a wheatish girl's wrist for a beauty review

Don't: Fake it. There are multiple mediums made especially for airbrushed photos with studio lighting and staged poses at your local breakfast haunt. Instagram Stories isn't it. Save that for the visually crisp Instagram or your highly followed Facebook page.

Do: Be real. Everyone has their fair share of annoying pimples, coffee spills or frustrating days when you can't choose what to wear. Simply sharing a few mistaken behind-the-scenes pictures from your shoot are actual realities which humanises you as an individual and makes you seem less like a Barbie.

Don't: Replicate. We've already seen the avocado toast you are eating for breakfast over Snapchat and Twitter. For Pete's sake, don't repeat it on Insta Stories too.

Do: Create fresh material for Instagram Stories. Tedious, I know but it's possibly to angle one situation in a few different ways like sharing your wrist candy which features boldly while you are holding your avocado toast.

Don't: Overdo. I know, I know, you love Instagram Stories and so do I. But no one deserves to see a mundane and endless stream of stories unless you've got a gripping storyline for each of them. In all likelihood, that will lead to a quick left swipe onto the next profile.

Do: Limit yourself. While it can seem exhilarating to feature every single detail of your life on the platform, restrain yourself because no one likes an oversharer. Also, that's reason enough to put your phone down and enjoy the family dinner you are at.



Trending on Style File