Instagram. The social media platform us bloggers all love to hate. Just when we thought the Facebook algorithm was bad enough, Instagram went one better, with posts we actually want to see being shunted right down the feed and pictures showing up from days ago. What happened to it being instant?
And then, when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the platform decided to start randomly ‘shadow banning’ users for ridiculous things like using hashtags such as #beautyblogger – I mean come on Instagram, what the hell?!
With users resorting to playing the follow/unfollow game just to keep ahead, things were not looking good. Just when I started getting seriously disheartened by the whole thing, fed up of gaining three followers, just to lose six overnight, I started getting into the stories function of the site, and it has been a real game changer.
Insta-stories, apparently much like snapchat (although I never did get into that site, it seemed to be targeted at a much younger audience), gives you the option to share snapshots of your day, not just to those who follow you, but to anyone who decides to click on your story. It’s actually quite interesting seeing who watches your stories, as I’m sure a lot of people don’t seem to realise you can see this (I’ve let the cat out of the bag now though, haven’t I?).
I started using stories a while back but never really got into it properly but lately, after I realised how much I enjoyed watching the random insights into other people’s lives through their own stories, I have started to upload more regularly and I’m starting to really enjoy it.
Unlike with my Instagram feed, I don’t feel a pressure to only upload polished images to my stories. In fact, I generally avoid editing images when adding them to my story, apart from maybe swiping across for a hazy filter when I share a particularly early morning no makeup selfie.
That’s another thing I love about the stories function. I am usually really careful to look good for my social media uploads, but somehow with stories I don’t mind showing the ‘real’ me including truly unflattering pictures of me wearing various sheet masks in bed. I like how raw it is. It brings you back to Instagram’s roots, when it was all about the instant insight into people’s lives, rather than the posed and perfect images we now strive for to create an aesthetically pleasing theme for our grid.
You’ve got to hand it to them, Instagram may be getting the main site wrong on so many levels, but they are constantly improving the stories functions. You can now add polls for more follower interaction, and I love the range of tools at your disposal from cool seasonal stickers for every occasion, to fun filters and the ability to change text to colours from your images themselves.
I tried and failed to get into filming regularly for my YouTube channel, but stories allows you to film whenever and wherever at the touch of a button and you can upload instantly for your followers to see what you’re getting up to.
There are limitations, as with everything, and the time limit of your uploads can be frustrating if you’re filming a particularly lengthy rant or trying to showcase your latest shopping haul before the time runs out (I find myself talking really fast just to fit it all in).
But for every limitation there’s a plus side and the different options allow you to really get creative and mix things up. Using the hands free function you can have a dance or show off your cooking or cleaning skills for the camera, and everyone loves a good boomerang – where your subject matter goes back and forth, back and forth to its hearts content.
As a blogger, I’m really enjoying using the stories function as part of my reviews, as a quick and easy way to show unboxing of mail, and to bring my followers along with me to events I attend. Most recently, I was able to show those watching the brilliant MSC Preziosa in all its sparkling glory, as I went on board for Blog Camp.
It’s so lovely to receive messages from those watching when something I do or say prompts them to get in touch. Sometimes when reading a blog post or a tweet, a comment doesn’t come as naturally but stories has had me reaching out to other bloggers and as a result I feel I’m getting to know people better.
That’s the brilliant thing about stories, by recording them you’re letting people into your lives, providing those who follow you with behind the scenes footage, if you like.