5 Ways to Take Your Insta Stories to the Next Level

By Jenn Rose Smith

It’s been about a year since Instagram unrolled “stories”, and since then we’ve seen some clever use — and complete abuse — of the video platform. The feature was openly designed to compete with Snapchat, and it’s disappearing quality was *supposed* to mean freedom from the perfection-obsessed culture of Instagram. Insta users were quick to get on board: it seems like everyone is documenting EVERYTHING these days (from the common cold to actual births). As a viewer, it can feel a bit like rummaging through a garage sale looking for something interesting. So how do you keep your followers from swiping left? I went straight to the two accounts I love most for answers: @texasmonthly and @lucylaucht. I can always count on both of these handles for inspiring and entertaining stories, and couldn’t wait to see what they had to say about their methods for creating them. Read on to discover 5 simple ways to take your insta stories to the next level:

featured image via fairfax journal

image via water cooloer convos

Utilize third party apps.

I use VSCO—I love the new video editing tool. Sometimes I’ll use Squaready to place white borders around an image and 8mm to create Super 8 style videos,” says Lucy Laucht, photographer and travel expert behind These Foreign Lands. ” We’re big fans of her artful approach to video content.

Over at Texas Monthly, they rely heavily on Photoshop to create killer stories. “Photoshop is the main tool we use for building the slides,” says art director Victoria Millner. “It gives us the flexibility to use our custom typefaces and design details to make our stories feel special to Texas MonthlyWe have the benefit of having beautiful, pre-edited images submitted from photographers, so we’re pretty light-handed with any retouching. (I do swear by VSCO for personal editing, though!)”

Tell a cohesive story.

“I usually approach it beginning with the text,” says Victoria. “What’s the story we’re trying to tell, how do we break it up in a logical manner, and then what’s the best visual to support each bit of text. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in stunning photos, but thinking about it from a larger, story-telling perspective can make the stories more compelling as a whole.”

Know your audience.

Knowing your audience is key to keeping them engaged throughout an Instagram story,” says Alie Cline (Engagement Editor at Texas Monthly) “If you’re seeing a lot of dropoff in views from the first slide to the last, think about making your story shorter. Conversely, if you get people who watch all the way through, try and emulate that format to keep seeing success! Finally, something we obviously care deeply about at Texas Monthly is storytelling—I think my favorite Instagram stories do just that. I’d recommend keeping things simple and clear (both with text and images) so your audience immediately understands the story you’re trying to tell, which Victoria does so beautifully when creating our slides!”

Get creative with text placement.

Lucy Laucht gave us this tip, and she always keeps us entertained with the way she uses text and emojis in her Insta Stories. Before posting, look at an image or video a second time to see if there might be a fun or unexpected way to use text.

Keep it real.

I’m definitely guilty of trying to portray my best life via Insta stories but let’s be real—its rarely like that,” admits Lucy. “I appreciate a little honesty and reality!” Keep your followers engaged by keeping your stories honest and fun.