As a content marketing agency, we hear all the time “Do I have to use Instagram Stories?” Although we understand why camera shyness might be keeping you hesitant, we want to share some reasons why you may need to set your fear aside and start adding to your story.
So what exactly is Instagram Story?
Instagram launched its Stories feature in 2016 and in 2019 there were already 500 million Story users according to TechCrunch. Stories allow users to share multiple videos and photos throughout the day with the ability to add interactive features for their audiences. What makes this so popular with users is the ability to share additional, real-time content, without it having to be a part of your feed. If you are looking for advice on what to post for your Instagram feed efforts, this is the blog for you.
How is it different from a regular Instagram Feed?
What makes Instagram Stories so different is that they disappear from view after 24 hours of being on your story. Because these stories do not add to the Instagram Feed, it creates an entirely different area of Instagram to optimize. Stories only exist in two places of your profile, your profile image, and your Highlights area. Your main story will live as a colored ring around your profile circle. This will allow users to know that you have added to your story. The Highlights area is an archive of your stories. The main reason to keep your stories in the highlighted area is if you provided good information or important instructions that you would like to make sure users can access for more than 24 hours.
So what kind of Story Posts should I do?
Instagram Stories offer so many different features and actions that it is hard to provide a single set of types of stories. We want to encourage getting creative with stories and using this as an area to really connect with your audience. Authenticity is our biggest suggestion for the Stories area but we will dive into common stories therapists do for their Instagram content marketing strategy.
Type one: Easily Attainable & Requires No Creation From You
Sharing Other Account’s Posts
It is great to share content from others on your Instagram stories. It is super easy to do and allows your content to reach a wider audience. To share a post for another account, you will select the “Share” or paper airplane button and you will be given the option to “Add to My Story” you will want to select this. As a therapist, we recommend that you share uplifting quotes or therapeutic advice from other accounts. Think of your story as a place to provide more daily inspiration and encouragement. Share content that reiterates your messaging and supports the modalities and theories you want your audience to understand.
Sharing Your Feed Posts
We know what you are thinking, “Why do I need to share my posts with my story? Wouldn’t that just be like duplicating my content?” So the short answer is yes. Each user is different and some choose to interact with stories more than they do with your content feed. Of course, this is not ideal and the goal is to get your users to want to interact with all of your content, it’s just not the reality. So to make sure you are reaching as many people as possible, sharing your content feed posts to your stories allows you to make sure you are optimizing and sharing your content as best as you can. To share your own post to your story, you will select the “Share” or paper airplane button and you will be given the option to “Add to My Story.”
Type two: Can Be Easily Created & Requires No Editing or Added Features to Work
Showing Off Your Space
Instagram Stories are all about the Behind The Scenes of your feed. As a therapist, you can take advantage of this by sharing more about your space. Most therapists take time and thought into creating a calming and peaceful therapeutic space for their clients. Use Instagram Story as a way to share your vision more in-depth and give your audience a “tour” through your space. This is a creative way to also make therapy less threatening for your audience. A lot of individuals may be nervous to take that step because they are unsure of what they will be walking into. By taking time to share your space on social media you can add an element to your content marketing strategy you may have not even known you needed.
This will require you to get behind the camera but you will be talking about things you know! This could be information of what insurances you take, how far out you are accepting clients, what the intake paperwork will entail, or some questions to ease the nerves for future clients. As we mentioned before this is a great way for them to feel more at ease about taking the next steps for therapy. They will get to see you, hear you, and get an idea of your personality and how you conduct therapy. If a picture is worth 1,000 words then a video of you speaking towards your practice is worth everything! Really try to speak to your audience by starting videos like this with “if you have never had therapy with me before you might be wondering…” This is also a great way to reassure your future clients that all the information is as up-to-date as possible since it is being posted that day.
Once you are feeling more comfortable with being on camera, sharing tips and tricks for mental health will be the next most valuable information. At Theory About That, we encourage you to share your helpful tips! We know that some individuals can be resistant to sharing what they feel is their secret sauce but here is how we view this. Even if you provide exercises or advice for certain topics, most individuals will need the accountability of a therapist or a licensed professional to give them more tailored advice. So really when you share tips and tricks you have seen work, this is content marketing that confirms to your audience you are the expert. They may not even take your advice but knowing that you gave advice on that topic is enough for them to trust you as a resource. So find tips, exercises, and mindsets you want your audience to have more information about. Through this, we hope you will see how many individuals will reach out for more help because they see you are educated and capable of providing them even more specific advice in sessions.
Use Instagram Stories Like a Pro with Additional Features
Instagram Stories are even more customizable and interactive than regular feed posts. When you master the consistency of implementing the story into your content marketing strategy then you are ready to start taking your stories to the next level! We will be touching on most of the features seen below.
Tag Location, Mentions, & Hashtags
Just as in regular in-feed posts, you can use hashtags and tagging a location in your stories. This is great to tag your practice location or to join in on important conversations happening around certain hashtags. For example, you see below that you can select “Location” and tag a specific location, address, or business. If you partner with any other businesses you can tag them by selecting “Mention” or typing “@____” into a regular text box on the story screen. Lastly, you can add hashtags to your stories to allow them to be viewed by a wider audience. Make sure you use hashtags that are being used by others. In stories, company hashtags aren’t really necessary so instead of implementing your branded hashtags just focus on popular hashtags.
*SECRET PRO TIP* If you want to add more than 10 hashtags in your stories to really try and bring as much attention as possible we have a tip for you. Use the color picker to change the color of your hashtags to the same color as the background! Hide your hashtags from your audience for a better user experience while still optimizing your story as much as possible.
Ask a Question & Share Your Followers Answers
Talk to your followers! Get to know them and help understand their struggles so you can create more tailored and helpful content for them. Posing questions to your followers is guaranteed to help your engagement grow. For example, “What do you do to take care of your mental health?” “What is one self-care practice you will be doing this week?” “When it comes to needing tips, what topics do you care about the most?” These are all great questions to learn more about what your audience wants your expertise on.
Host a Poll
Polls are a great way to encourage your followers to engage with you in the way that is most private. Although as the account holder you will be able to see who has voted what, users normally just think about the percentage and don’t feel they have to personally answer they are able to weigh in. Polls are a great way to test content on your audience or getting better feedback from your audience. For example, asking “Does social media impact your mental health?” “Have you checked in with your mental health after 2020?” “Have you ever thought of going to a therapist before?” “Have you or someone you know struggled with phone addictions?” “Do you have a hard time getting out of bed each day?” “Have you meditated today?” “Are you ready for this week?”
Quiz Your Followers
Quizzes are a great way to test your followers' knowledge of what you do and how much they pay attention to your content. Being a therapist there may be certain values or specialties you want your followers to have a good understanding of. This is also a chance to get more personal and test your user’s knowledge without needing a written response back. For example, “If you’ve been following me, you’d know I specialize in… A. Couple Counseling B. Individuals with Anxiety C. Phone Addiction D. Open Marriage Counseling '' or “If you’ve been following me, you’d know… A. I love meditating B. I have a therapy dog in my session C. I use essential oils during my sessions D. I have an aquarium in my therapy office”
The Emoji Slider is also another great way to collect your followers' feelings and thoughts without requiring them to provide a written response. The feature was originally only meant to be a horizontal feature but since it’s launch, users have gotten creative with it and turned it sideways and selected an emoji that worked for that orientation. The goal of the emoji slider is to provide users with a question that requires them to quantify their response. So they need to use the slider to represent where they fall. Typically the full slider would indicate 100% and the lowest is zero. Users have started to get creative and also place different options with text requiring the users to indicate exactly what response they meant to stop at. This is creative but not as functional as Instagram will display the “Average” to your users. So if the average is not a good data source to look at the emoji slider may not be the right feature for that type of interaction.
Any other resources I need?
While most of Instagram Story’s optimization can be created directly on Instagram. One app we would recommend is Canva Stories which is a mobile version of Canva to allow for easy story creation! If you want to give the pros a run for their money, creating custom graphics for your stories may help you see that vision through. But don’t forget the connection organically filmed videos can do for your business as well.
When starting to post on your Instagram Story remember to use the tools to your advantage and get started by asking your users questions. Being a therapist you may be resistant to connecting with your audience outside of the therapy room but if you can help those connections to understand what information they are looking for the better you can serve them. We hope these tips will help you and if you do post your first story or implement these tips, tag us in your story by typing @theoryaboutthat.
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