Well hello there- and welcome to this Small & Supercharged podcast… well, the show notes. To listen to the Small & Supercharged Podcast, you can listen below or you can follow the iTunes link here. Today it is all about Instagram Stories. I adore these. I add to mine every single day and I love the engagement, the comments, the responses and more I get from it. In this Podcast, all about Instagram Stories, I share why I love them, five ways to use them… and there’s a freebie you can download too. I know, I spoil you. Enjoy…

Let’s talk about Instagram Stories…


Let’s talk about Instagram Stories and how you can use them for your small business

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 8 – Instagram Stories. What you’ll hear in this episode..

  • The difference between Stories and the grid… and the difference in the kind of content you’d post on the two
  • How Instagram Stories can be used to show the behind the scenes of images you post on the grid
  • How to access Instagram Stories (sorry if you feel I’m teaching you how to suck eggs. I just think it’s good to make sure everyone can get involved).
  • We talk through the different kinds of Stories.
  • Why I usually do Stories when walking the dog (and why you might like to do something similar).
  • We talk through ‘behind the scenes’ ideas.
  • How you can use them to share a thought, talk about something you’ve seen and loved… or just #firstworldproblems. Such as when you have a hole in your sock… yeah… I’ve added that to notes too. I’ve not got over that…
  • We talk about how you can use Instagram Stories to show a process – taking ‘behind the scenes’ to an extra level.
  • How you can use stickers and how these can encourage engagement and can also create additional content.
  • Using Stories to show what’s new. You should never use social media as a hard sell, but you should use it to tell your customers, fans and followers about you and what’s new.
  • I touch on shoppable links and how these can be integrated.
  • How to hide hashtags in your Stories, and why hashtags are good on Instagram Stories.
  • And for the freebie – download the pdf here about Five Ways To Use Instagram Stories.
  • Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram.

If I’ve whet your appetite, I have a few blog posts about them too. To get some tips, tricks and hacks to take your Instagram Stories to the next level, they’re all on this website!

5 easy ways to Instagram StoriesHello there – today it’s all about Instagram Stories (I know, I know, I’m addicted), but not just this – I have a freebie for you! Yes, I have launched a downloadable PDF freebie that talks you through the different styles/types/modes of Instagram Story AND five easy ways to use Instagram Stories.

Why have I created a freebie about Instagram Stories?

Because I love them. No, it’s more than that. Instagram Stories can be HUGE for building businesses and brands and, now, they have the added bonus of allowing you to link to Instagram TV. Even if you have less than 10k followers, you can ‘taste’ the joys of swipe up!

Instagram Stories are very, very different to the highly curated content we seen in the main feed. Because of the options available and how the Story is only there for 24 hours (unless you add it to Highlights), you CAN be a bit more spontaneous, fun and natural. It’s a great place to test new ideas and see the response. It’s a fab place to ask your audience questions using the poll feature. It’s a great place to ask opinions using the slider feature. You can also use it to promote your feed posts too (you can share from your feed easily). It’s great. But I just don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. The potential is HUGE.

So what’s the freebie about?

I know that many people feel a little afraid of Instagram Stories. It’s not edited. It’s raw and real. What happens if you made a fool of yourself? OK. Let’s stop. You CAN edit clips if you want (you can record using the Camera and then edit before uploading), it can be raw and real- but you can also apply filters and edit. And what if you make a fool of yourself? Delete it, don’t post it… or rest safe in the knowledge that in 24 hours, it’ll be gone.

I created the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram’ freebie to give people a little bit of a kick to explore and have a play with this fab free marketing tool. And I thought providing five ways that you could use Instagram Stories would be a good way to do this. But don’t feel that the freebie is trying to clip your wings – it is not. It’s a basic foundation for you to explore, play and create your own amazing Instagram Stories. These are just five easy ways to use Instagram Stories. There are soooo many more.

How to download the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories’ freebie

I’ve created this freebie for my email newsletter list subscribers, but I’ve also added a freebie page here that will allow you to download the ‘Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories’ freebie at any time you want to join my mailing list. My fabulous email subscribers receive these kind of guides and videos first, so if you want to improve your PR, marketing, social media and grow and develop your business, it’s a great list to be signed up to. If I do say so myself!

If you use any of the tips or ideas in the freebie, I would love it if you tagged me so I can see what you’re creating (I’m @rheafreemanpr on Instagram) – no obligation to do this, I’d just love to see.

So there you go – Five easy ways to use Instagram Stories – enjoy!

Behind the different types of instagram storiesOh, Instagram Stories – how I love thee! I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories, and get a tiny bit excited when a new feature is unveiled. As Focus has recently joined the Instagram Stories family, I thought it would be a good chance to have a chat about the options currently available, the different types of Instagram Stories, and how you might be able to use them. I use quite a lot of these in my own Instagram account...

The different types of Instagram Stories

So, just to recap on how to get into Instagram Stories… open your Instagram app > press your home button (bottom left) > press the camera button on the top left.

Now you’re here, should we explore the options together?

TYPE – if you have something to say or you maybe want to introduce a poll, Type is a good option. You can select different colours an different font styles. You can also hide hashtags quite easily on the Type background.

LIVE – pretty much as you’d expect, this is for you when you want to go Live. I am going to cover Instagram Live in more detail in a different blog because it’s a different beast to Stories (in my opinion), but when you want to go live, it’s there.

NORMAL – this is for still images and short videos. To take a pic, just tap the button once. If you want to record a short video, hold the button down. Colour will fill around the edge of the button and this is your countdown timer. Each clip is 15 seconds long if recorded through the app. There are ways you can chop a longer video up into 15 second clips, but 15 seconds is how it will display.

BOOMERANG – I love Boomerang. It’s a really simple way to creating a more dynamic shot. It actually works by taking a load of photos and playing them in order and reversed. Nifty.

FOCUS – a bit like my beloved Portrait mode. Focus allows you to bring the person into focus and the background becomes blurred. This works on still images and videos.

SUPERZOOM – this is a bit of fun. Select this if you want to zoom in on something in an amusing way. You can also select the style of your Superzoom from Dramatic, Beats, TV Show and Bounce. Just tap the little musical note (oh yeah- there’s music).

REWIND – plays the video in reverse. I’ve only tried this once… I tend to use Boomerang instead.

HANDS-FREE – lets you record a video without having to have your finger permanently welded to your phone screen, which is a bit of a win.

STOP-MOTION – I love stop motion. I created my Christmas campaign using stop motion (OK, I used an app and posted on FB, but still). The stop motion in Instagram Stories required a lot of tapping but it’s a fun way to show a sequence of events or process.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can also add text, stickers, GIFs, hashtags and tag people to all of the above!

Instagram Stories should be fun to watch and do – so mess around with the different styles inside the app… if you don’t like the result, delete it and no one ever need see it. And if you post it, it’ll be gone in 24 hours anyway! Enjoy!

If you’d like to see how I use Instagram Stories, you can find me at @rheafreemanpr

…and feel free to tag me if you’ve tried something new on Instagram Stories as a result of reading this!

Seven ways to use Instagram StoriesYou might have realised that I’m a big fan of Instagram Stories (hop on over to my Instagram if you’re yet to!), but the good news is that they’re not JUST fun. In fact, they can provide a great way to connect with your audience. I was asked about Instagram Stories a little while ago in one of the Facebook Live sessions, so decided that it would be a good opportunity to talk about them and different ways to use Instagram Stories.

Seven ways to Instagram Stories

Depending on the nature of your business, blog or Instagram account, you can choose to use your Instagram Stories in a number of ways…here are seven ways to use Instagram Stories that you might find useful…

  • Document. Unlike your main feed images that are more than likely well thought through and carefully composed with a key point or message, Instagram Stories don’t need to be. They can be used to document what you’re up to in your day. Yes, you want to have a point to the Story, but it doesn’t have to be as specific as a main feed image.
  • Behind the scenes. Stories are a great way to show what goes on behind the scenes at where you work. It could be the creation of a product, getting ready for a show, packaging, personalisation… the list goes on.
  • Events. Instagram Stories provide the perfect place to put show and event content up. This kind of falls into the document category, but still.
  • Interviews. You can use Instagram Stories to record micro interviews with people. Brand ambassador? Customer? Team member… if they have something concise to stay, use Stories.
  • Poll. Yep – you can use Instagram Stories to ask an opinion and then integrate a poll into the Story that people can vote on.
  • Promotion. Promote a blog post using Stories. You can take an image of it on the screen, add an image or a graphic you’ve created, or even make a short video. It’s up to you. You could also use Stories to promote a specific hashtag on competition. Honestly, there’s SO much scope.
  • Share a thought. Instagram Stories can be the perfect place to share a thought. I do this a LOT.. usually when I’m walking the dog or waiting for my children to wake up from a car ride. It’s a nice way to connect with your audience authentically and let your personality come out.

And this is JUST the surface of it all and a few ideas. I use my own Instagram Stories for all of the above and more. I’ve showcased products for competitions through Stories, shared client posts. shown press clippings (with permission) and lots more.

How do you use Instagram Stories? What do you think of the ways to use Instagram Stories listed above? I’d love to know. And if you’d like to see my Instagram Stories in action, please do come and follow my Instagram at @rheafreemanpr

How to hide hashtags on Instagram StoriesWe all know that hashtags make a difference on Instagram, in fact, they make your content a LOT more discoverable and increase engagement. Of course, there’s more to a good post than a load of hashtags, but on a post for the main feed, hashtags are really good. But what about Instagram Stories? Of course, you can add a hashtag to a story (in fact, there’s a specific ‘sticker’ you can use for hashtags if you like!), but what if you want to add more than one? Won’t it make your Story a mess? There’s much debate about whether to include hashtags in the first comment or caption on the main feed… and a lot of that is down to aesthetics. So why on earth would you plaster a pic in them? Well, there’s a way you can add hashtags to your Instagram Story without making it look a mess. It’s simple really… you hide them. And that’s the subject of today’s blog – how to hide hashtags on Instagram Stories.

Why add a hashtag to an Instagram Story?

Well, we’ve talked about how hashtags makes you more discoverable, but the thing is, this also works for Stories. Now, word of caution… well, not exactly caution. If you use a hashtag (sticker or underlined) is MAY appear on the corresponding hashtag page. It may not. But if you don’t add a hashtag, the chances of it being featured on the relevant hashtag page are zero. If you can add it, and hide it (if you like), there’s a better chance of you increasing your reach. Or you don’t. And you definitely won’t get featured on the page…

So, if you do add a hashtag and you do get featured, it may appear on the hashtag page in the Story but at the top. If you’re not sure what I’m taking about, follow these steps…

  • Open Instagram on your phone
  • Press the magnifying glass
  • Click on the search bar at the top
  • Select ‘Tags’
  • Type in your desired hashtag and tap
  • And you’ll see a page with lots of pics… at the top there’s a circle with the Instagram colours framing it – that’s where you may appear.

How to hide a hashtag on Instagram Stories

We know that Instagram is a visual platform. So if you spend a lot of time creating beautiful images for your Story, you might not want to slap an ugly hashtag over them? Maybe? Worry not… you can hide them…

So, it’s worth noting that in order to be considered you need to either use a hashtag sticker (more challenging to hide, but you can change it to be a bit less obvious!) or you put the # and start typing and then select the hashtag you want from the bottom of the image. This underlines it and makes it a hashtag in this way. Now, if you opt for this, it’s much easier to hide.

I’m sure there are lots of ways to hide a hashtag, but the one I use (and I find the easiest) is to use the colour match tool (you know where you pick what colour you want the text to be?) and just change the colour of the hashtag to match a bit of the background of your image. You might need to shrink it down (especially if your photo has lots of colours and shades), but it’s easy, it works, and it’s done.

Of course, when you want to use a hashtag to direct someone (like #linkinbio) or you don’t mind using one that’s visible because it adds to what you’re doing, the stickers are good, or just pick a colour that contrasts with the background so people can see it and click if they like?

I’ve been using this function for a while now and have seen some Stories do really, really well… and this is the only thing I have done differently…

Have you tried hiding a hashtag? How do you do it?

how to use polls on instagramSo, quite a while ago, Instagram added a poll feature to Stories. Everyone went mad about it and there were polls about everything, everywhere. I reached my poll limit very quickly and made a small protest about using them. Because I didn’t want to be just someone else asking a question. Because I wanted to use any poll I created to actually influence a change, or relate to something relevant. And not a lot of people were doing that. But now the initial excitement about polls seems to have worn off, I’ve embraced them a little more. Here’s five ways to use polls on Instagram.

How to use polls on Instagram

First of all, let’s just remember that at the moment, polls can only be used on Instagram Stories. This isn’t a problem (in fact, I think having a pretty ugly looking poll on a main feed image would look wrong, but maybe I’m just a bit old fashioned?), but it’s something to be aware of. Like any other Instagram Story, a poll will exist for just 24 hours…

Here are five ways to use polls on Instagram…

  • Market research – can’t decide whether to stock a product or not? Want to make sure there’s a demand for something you’re planning to sell/offer? A poll is a great way to do this.
  • To show options. If you offer two colours in a product, or offer personalisation, or can wear something two ways, a poll can be fab. Create an image (if you don’t have fancy graphic design software, look at Canva) and then place your poll on the image (in the app). It’s a nice way to show what you have to offer.
  • Engagement. Oh yes. Stories tend to get good a good number of view in relation to the size on an Instagram following (especially if you use hashtags and geotags… but that’s a different blog!), but do these people merely look at your content and swipe on, or do they actually care? Asking someone’s opinion can make them feel important and enhance a connection, which is important.
  • Test an idea. Want to try something new on your blog or vlog? Then you can ask your following what they think or even what they’d like to see. Ok, you can only give them two options, but I recently did this and I found the results really interesting. For example, I asked whether people would like to see more brand information (which I see as people behind the brand, how it developed, etc) in contrast to product information. Of course, you can’t see the why with a poll (and it would require greater input by the person who’s been kind enough to get involved), but the information I gathered has given me food for thought and I will be using this feedback.
  • Share an opinion. This might be on something tame (I did one about the weather!) or it could be something a lot more daring. If you have a strong opinion you want to share, and you want to see if you’re alone in your thinking/find people singing from the same hymn sheet, a poll can do the job. However, if you’re planning to share a strong opinion, as with doing this anywhere, be aware that you might have push back.

So, there are five easy ways to use polls on Instagram. However, I would still urge people not to overuse polls as, like anything, they can become a little boring. However, when used well, they can be a positive addition to an Instagram Story, for that day at least.

If you want to join other small businesses and chat about all things social media, marketing, PR, sales and a lot more, make sure you check out my free Small & Supercharged business group on Facebook… if you liked this article, I think you’ll love it!

How to use Instagram Stories (and stop them taking over your life)Instagram Stories – another ‘thing’ you have to do? Well, if you want to fully embrace the functionality of Instagram, then yes. You kind of do. You might feel that your social media commitment is already bursting at the seams and you can not take on ANYTHING else. And I hear you and I understand. But in this blog, I’m going to share a few ways to help you with how to use Instagram Stories without them taking over your life. Well, more than social media does already!

Now, before, I venture down this path, just one point to note. If you do not want to Instagram Stories at this moment – don’t. I encourage clients to have a go and to try it because I know how well it can work. But if your plate is overflowing at this second, it’ll wait. I wouldn’t wait too long, but if you feel like it’s another job to do and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t stress.

But if you do want to know how to use Instagram Stories, I have some ideas below that are really easy to implement. Especially if you don’t want it to completely take over your life…

How to use Instagram Stories

  1. Document. I’m sure this is a Gary Vee-ism… document, don’t create. I use Instagram Stories to share what I’m up to. Unlike a ‘proper’ video, I don’t get the tripod set up, storyboard, etc etc… I just press go and crack on.
  2. Mix your media. You might not fancy video today – that’s fine, take a pic. Don’t have a pic? Mess around with Boomerang or Rewind or Stop Motion. There’s lots of functionality built into Instagram Stories… and with GIFs recently introduced and lots of other things, it’s set to get better.
  3. Volume. You don’t HAVE to add to your Story every hour. Or even every day. Personally, I try and have something on Stories all the time, because I’m a bit of a geek like that and I’ve been seeing Stories get more and more visible on the app.
  4. Use your Camera Roll. You don’t have to include pics you’ve just taken… you can use older pics or even screenshots from your website! If you have an amazing special offer on an item, you can screenshot it, do a bit of editing inside the app and get it out there.
  5. Special events. If you’re attending an event, or exhibiting at a show, Stories is a great way to share lots of exclusive content about what you’re up to. I think you should use your feed for your best work, but you can add fun content on Stories that might not fit the aesthetic of your feed, but is bang on for your brand.
  6. Personality. Video content, candid snaps… even a bit of crazy dancing if it suits, is a great way to show the personality of the people behind the brand, which then helps to give the brand those personality attributes too.
  7. Behind the scenes. If you’re setting up for a show or an event, if you’re a photographer doing a shoot, if you’re opening a special delivery or parcel… why not share what’s going on behind the scenes of your business? It allows people to connect to you and your business on a deeper level… and people really do buy from people.
  8. Stay on brand, but don’t take yourself too seriously. It takes a lot time to build a brand, so make sure your content feeds into this… but don’t overthink. A nice contradiction… but let me explain. You might be a fun, young brand who likes to enjoy some bubbles and country shows. You can capture that fun on Instagram Stories – brilliant. However, fun and being drunk and ill, and feeling rough as hell the next day is not on brand. So I wouldn’t advise that… do you see what I mean?

Enjoy it. The best way to use Instagram Stories and to see what works for your audience is by just having a go. If you record a video clip or take a pic and you hate it, don’t publish it, just delete it… no one will know and you can just go again. Instagram Stories is a great tool, and finding out how to use Instagram Stories for your business could be a really big deal for you too.

If you’d like to see how I use Instagram Stories (and maybe even follow me on Instagram!), my Instagram handle is @rheafreemanpr. I’d love to see you there.

How to use Instagram StoriesMy latest obsession is Instagram Stories, a fun feature on Instagram that allows you to capture what you’re up to but, unlike your main posts, these pics and videos will vanish after 24 hours. If you’d like to know how to use Instagram Stories, you’ve come to the right place!

How to use Instagram Stories

Use Instagram Stories to document what you’re doing. If you’re using Instagram to promote your business, you can use Instagram Stories to give people a real behind the scenes look at what goes on, day to day, in your business. I use my Instagram Stories to capture things I like, that help people to find out more about me, my business and my brand. Sometimes I might show a dog walk with the lovely Jam, the spring flowers I encounter, stationery finds, new books, projects I’m working on, etc. etc.

And you can add to your images and videos…

You can add words, you can draw on and you can tag people in your stories too. There’s a fairly limited colour palette but I find it’s pretty comprehensive considering that it’s just a moment in time and will be gone this time tomorrow!

Images, video, Boomerang and more…

Instagram Stories allows you to capture more than stills, you can take video, Boomerang clips and more. This can be really fun.

And you can keep adding to it during the day

You can add to your story as the day progresses, just click on camera button on the top left of the app and you’re all can snap away.

And one more benefit is that you can also save parts of your Instagram Story on your Camera Roll to post as a ‘normal’ Instagram post or for whatever else you like! And if you do that with your best snaps of the day, you can add all your hashtags too.

If you’d like to catch up with me on Instagram, I’m here. You’ll know I’m a big fan of Instagram if you follow me, in fact, I’ve written about why I love Instagram here.

What do you think? Do you use Instagram Stories? Do you like watching them? Or are you a Snapchat fan for this kind of content? I’d love to know…