Instagram Stories: How to Create Engaging Content

written by:
Juliana Broste


Instagram Stories: How to Create Engaging Content

Let’s be honest.  What we see on Instagram is not always a true account for what is happening at this very instant.  Often, the content we see on people’s feeds has been carefully curated.  Instagram’s latest feature, Instagram stories, makes sharing our lives more in the moment.  While it’s great to create content to share on our Instagram feeds (read How to Create Instagram Video in 5 Simple Steps), here are a few tricks to start telling your own story on Instagram.

Much like Snapchat, Instagram stories offer creators an opportunity to share behind-the-scenes moments.  The events captured for stories appear in a slideshow format, but they disappear after 24 hours, and can only be seen by your followers.  So, there’s a whole new level of immediacy and intimacy in the exchange.

STORY: To begin telling your story, click on the camera icon in the upper left corner of the main page.  Once you’re in, tap the shutter button to snap a photo, or hold your finger down to record a video, just lift your finger to stop.  For more freedom, check out hands-free mode!  You can even post photos and videos that have been taken in the last 24 hours.  Just swipe down to see recent clips.

Instagram stories allow both photos and videos, so you can choose the right tool for the job.  The tough part?  Collecting moments throughout day to tell one fluid story.  Take viewers along with you.  Let them in on your whereabouts—who are you with, what are you doing, where are you, when is this happening, why are you doing this?  Remember what you have posted previously, and consider what you might post next.  Don’t be afraid to put your face on camera, but also show us what you’re seeing.  Offer a variety of shots to avoid repetition.

THINK VERTICAL: The biggest adjustment when creating Instagram stories is the aspect ratio.  Video has traditionally been a horizontal format, and Instagram is uniquely all about the square.  On the other hand, Instagram stories are VERTICAL.  Record life moments using the full screen, but in a 9:16 aspect ratio.  I used to cringe at the idea of shooting vertical video (if you agree, this will make you laugh: Vertical Video Syndrome PSA).  At the time, vertical video was usually a mistake, an accident, not something you would do on purpose.  Vertical video often led to screens with black bars of wasted space.

Today, vertical video is being embraced, especially on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram stories.  It meets the demand for people who can’t be bothered to turn their phones ninety degrees.  So enjoy this moment of vertical video greatness!

With that in mind, profiles of people look really good.  So do other things that are vertical, like buildings and trees.  Pans across the room, less so, but it’s still possible and therefore fine.  The rule of thirds still applies, so keep your horizon in check and orient your subject with the points of intersection.

ZOOM: Within Instagram stories, you can zoom!  Tap and hold one finger on the circle shutter button to start recording, and slide up or down with the same finger to zoom.

BOOMERANG: Special in Instagram stories, it’s possible to record a boomerang video directly in the app!  No need to exit Instagram to create a looping photo animation in Boomerang, now it’s all one in the same.

ADD STICKERS, TEXT and DRAWINGS: After you capture a photo or video, it’s time to jazz it up!  Swipe left or right to add a filter.  Add stickers, like your location or the time and temp, or pick from hundreds of emojis.  It’s easy to rotate and resize objects by simply rotating two fingers or pinch to shrink or reverse pinch to grow.  With the text tool, choose a color and the font size, and add headlines and captions as you wish.

Mention up to 10 friends using the “@” symbol, followed by their Instagram handles, which provides a direct link to their profiles.  You may have seen some accounts adding a hyperlink to their stories.  Right now, this feature is only allowed for verified accounts, but we’re eagerly awaiting the release in an upcoming update!  The drawing tool is one of my favorites.  There’s a marker, chisel-tip or neon brush to draw circles, arrows, and other designs, or write freehand text on screen.

INSTAGRAM LIVE:  Another fun feature in Instagram stories is Instagram live. Followers can join in while you’re livestreaming, but when you’re done, the video is gone forever.  In other words, what happens on Instagram Live, stays on Instagram Live, and if you miss out, too bad.  When you start recording, your friends get a notification that you’re going live, and you can see who’s watching and also receive comments while you livestream, so it’s a neat way to interact with your network.

While it’s fun to collect and share stories that will expire in 24 hours, I personally like to save all the content I create on my phone.  Download each item one by one, or, hit the settings icon within stories and choose “save shared photos” to keep a record of shared moments.

I hope you enjoy capturing and sharing all those moments that happen in between Instagram posts through Instagram stories!  It’s a fun way to connect with your network and embrace a new form of storytelling.  With these tips, you’re well on your way to creating engaging content worth watching.

Let’s Connect! 

If you found this article useful, or want to follow along on my adventures, look for me @TravelingJules on Instagram.  Happy travels!

Juliana Broste


Juliana Broste, “TravelingJules”

TravelingJules Productions

Juliana Broste, “TravelingJules”, is an Emmy award winning Travel Video Journalist—a producer, shooter, writer, editor and host.  Whether you spot her in front of the camera or behind the lens, you’ll recognize this fierce female filmmaker sporting pink lipstick and an armful of camera gear!  Jules creates engaging travel video content for travel brands, media outlets, and for her travel vlog.  Her mission is to share amazing “things to do” around the world and inspire travelers to discover new experiences.  Come along for the adventure with TravelingJules on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

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