5 Tips for Great Storytelling through Instagram

Instagram StorytellingBefore starting this post, it’s important to point out that a new product isn’t really a great story. “We’ve got a new sandwich” isn’t a story. You wouldn’t go to your child’s bedroom to read a bedtime story, say “Here’s a new book I bought” then put it down and walk out, that’s not a story.

Storytelling can be a powerful tool for making things easier to remember, and puts the audience in a receptive mode. As Paul Smith, Author of Lead with a Story put it “They dial down the critical and analytical part of their brain, and are more receptive to new ideas. This keeps them from shutting down to your message before you’ve even had a chance to explain it.”

Rather than filling your Instagram feed with products, stories can act as capsules to carry the message of your product.

You may have already had a lot of success through telling your audience only about your products through social, however, the people who bought after seeing your posts are the people who would have bought from you anyway. To reach new people, to convince new customers and to really share the benefits of what your business does, you need to tell stories.

Here, we highlight five key elements of a good story told through Instagram.

Recognisable, even on small screen
Before you even start thinking about your stories, you need to make sure that each step of planning considers the small screen. If mobile users can’t make out your photo and don’t know what’s going on, there really isn’t much point in creating it.

A goal
A good story has a goal, and a good storytelling post on Instagram instantly shows what the goal is. Is it to win a race? Score a goal? Be healthy? Conquer your fears? Red Bull often show moments in extreme sports that capture that drive for winning, even it it means doing things that are borderline impossible.

Relatable character
As Paul Smith said, a relatable character should be “someone they can see themselves in not some Hollywood superstar or sports hero. Famous people make great testimonials, but not compelling stories.”

Know your target audience, and choose the stars of your photos carefully.

A challenge
Much like in many of Red Bull’s posts, the goal is blocked by the difficulty. The difficulty is the challenge. The challenge is what stops them from reaching their goals. Make this clear, and make it relatable.

Emotion is key, and it should be the right sort of emotion. Think about the emotion that is tied to your product, and try to portray that through your photo stories. Why would someone want to buy your product? What are their overall needs? Is it to fit in? Be better? Connect with their friends and family?

Storytelling is an art, and Instagram is an easily accessible platform for spreading messages. The pointers above aren’t necessarily needed in every story for it to be successful, but if you can include as many as possible, you have a better chance of creating a better story. For some further reading be sure to check out our interview with Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story.

About the Author

Patrick is a digital marketing consultant with around 10 years' experience, covering SEO, PPC, social media, email and user experience.

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