INSTAGRAM STORIESSocial media has taken over our lives in the last 10 years. Facebook only opened in 2004. Instagram in 2010. Snapchat in 2011. If you take a minute and think back to what your life was like in 2003 and compare it today you’d realize how much these simple apps have affected our lives and the way we communicate with each other.

For a long time Facebook was the number one app. Those who were in college when it first came out still seem to carry it as their primary social media app. However, it’s been 12 years since it opened. While some people still think those first adopters of Facebook are part of the Millennial generation, I believe those Millennials and those who are teens today (also considered Millennials) are so different with how they interact in the world. I believe that each small generation group may have one particular social media app that defines their generation. For mine it was Facebook. For teenagers today it’s Snapchat, closely followed by Instagram. Depending on what kind of photographer you are it’s important to keep up on the latest and greatest social media to ensure you’re reaching your ideal clients. Are you photographing a lot of families and newborns? That generation may be on Facebook quite a bit. High school seniors? Snapchat and Instagram. As a wedding photographer I’m finding that more and more of my clients are on Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook is fading for them.

That’s why Instagram’s release of Instagram Stories this week is a huge deal. Some business owners have been predicting that Snapchat was going to overtake social media as the number one app, but now Instagram has released a nearly identical app which is pretty amazing. While I haven’t posted to stories myself yet, I’ve really enjoyed sitting back and watching the people I follow on Instagram stories. In fact, I’ve found myself opening the app on my phone more often, and getting distracted enough by the stories that I pay less attention to the newsfeed. I’m very curious to see how this develops for Instagram and any new features they can add to it to make it more user friendly.

While there are a lot of enthusiasts already jumping on the Instagram Stories bandwagon, there are also people who are annoyed by the latest social media update. Trust me I get that feeling too. Another thing to learn and adapt to. I feel like I only just got the hang of Snapchat which was not intuitive for me at all. In fact, I had to watch several YouTube videos to even learn how to use it. It makes me feel old and I’m not even that old. This brings me to something that I’ve noticed for many years. As an industry, we photographers tend to really stick to Facebook. We cling to it as the thing we’ve known for so long, the first place we used as social media marketing and the thing we understand the best. Even when Facebook has betrayed us and made it harder than ever to be seen in newsfeeds, we still tend to be reluctant to explore different social media as a means to market.

I’m here to tell you that as of today, I get more inquiries and clients from Instagram and Pinterest than I do with Facebook. While I keep up my Facebook and post there for the handful of people who still pay attention, it’s not my number one social media app. Instagram should be high up on your list my friends. Especially you photographers. I know (because I’ve done it for so long) how easy it is to misuse Instagram and post more blurry filtered photos of my dogs than photos of my clients. I can tell you how magical it was when I really spent time developing my Instagram account and have watched it go up nearly 2,000 followers in less than a year. Now that it’s got that momentum it just keeps growing and growing more steadily and bringing more traffic. That’s why you should be using it or at least taking a more serious look at your Instagram habits than you have in the past. With Instagram now bringing in features almost as awesome as Snapchat, we can only expect really great things from the app combining the two most powerful social media platforms into one easy place. That said, I encourage you to jump on Instagram and re-evaluate how you’re using it. This fall I’ll be releasing an in-depth Instagram online course teaching a ton about how to use it to your advantage. Here are a few great ways you can use Instagram Stories to connect with your followers even more.

Incorporate More Personal Stuff

If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time curating your Instagram feed with the best of the best, but you still want to post that cute photo of your kid drooling, Instagram Stories is perfect for that. It disappears after 24 hours. You get to show off your kid and it doesn’t show in your followers’ newsfeeds unless they click the Stories buttons. A lot of photographers I know have struggled with balancing personal and business stuff on Instagram accounts. They’ve separated into two accounts so they don’t have to bombard people with photos of their dogs, kids, the daily Starbucks, etc. that may cause them to lose followers by not being focused on their business. This is the perfect way to let people get to know a little bit about your life personally and they’re essentially opting in, so if they don’t want to know they don’t have to watch.

Incorporate More Behind the Scenes Stuff

Behind the scenes is what gives life to successful social media accounts. It’s at the core of marketing trends today. People want to see what’s going on behind the scenes at the businesses they’ve invested so much in. Now you can show it off perfectly in video format with Instagram Stories. I’m pretty excited about this! Show off where you’re shooting, your set up, packing your gear, and anything else that inspires you.

Selfies

Now you have a special home on the app just to store your selfies. No need to overwhelm followers with your gorgeous face every day in your feed, you can filter it up (assuming Instagram makes more filters) and put it in your story.

I’m sure we’ll be discovering tons more great uses for Instagram Stories in the next few months and we’ll see where people’s loyalties shift between Snapchat and Instagram. In the meantime you can follow me at http://instagram.com/rockyourweird or my photography Instagram at http://instagram.com/carrieswails/ and hopefully we can start enjoying each other’s Stories and see where this new feature leads us! I found a great article that goes over some of Instagram Stories’ new features over on The Verge. It’s a great article to get an overview on everything Stories does and how it works.

If you’re interested in more awesome stuff like this follow Rock Your Weird on our InstagramFacebook, and Twitter to get updates. You can also subscribe below to my weekly ‘behind the business’ newsletter full of insight on how running a business actually goes down behind the scenes. You get to be a fly on my wall and learn from my successes and failures with me! We have a Facebook community where you can join and get some business help from other entrepreneurs like yourself. You can also find me out on Periscope regularly broadcasting awesome stuff for you too! Thanks for reading!

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