Instagram Stories have been around since 2016. Are you using them on your school’s Instagram account?!
If you’re not, there’s a good chance you’re thinking: “Andrea, it’s just not worth it. Stories only live for 24 hours, so I don’t want to put any time into sharing photos, videos, and information that just disappears!”
Well, I’m here today to tell you that I think this is the wrong approach. Posting Stories is an important Instagram strategy for schools, so let’s find out WHY this is true and HOW you can get started!
What are Instagram Stories?
We know that 85% of school social media managers are already using Instagram for their schools, which is awesome to see! If that number includes you, you may already know that Instagram has a rich variety of posting options, including Feed Posts, Stories, and Reels. All three options can be used to share photos and videos.
Remember, when you post something as a Story, it is only available for Instagram users to see for 24 hours. Instagram developed Stories to compete with Snapchat, which popularized the idea of 24-hour content.
Do you really want to up your Instagram game? I’m hosting my annual Instagram Challenge for Schools on February 12 – 19, 2024. This thorough training is available to schools in my membership group. Find out more, here!
You’ll notice that when an Instagram account has an active Story, its profile image will have a colored circle around it. Users have the option to click the profile image to see the Story that is active, but keep in mind that this is NOT the way most people view Stories. Most people view Stories because they appear at the top of their general newsfeeds!
When people scroll Instagram, the most recently posted Stories from accounts they follow get bumped to the front of the line. To view an account’s Stories, users just click the circle to view the Story. Viewers then tap to move to the next photo/video or swipe to jump to the next account’s Story. Once a viewer starts watching Stories, they play automatically, one after the other, providing continuous viewing.
Once a Story expires, the content is archived within the account. Only the account owner can view this archived content. If you want your school’s Stories to live longer than 24 hours, you can save them to Highlights, which will allow your followers to see the content for much longer. I’m not going to cover Highlights today, but you can watch this short video to get all the details!
Why are Instagram Stories Important for Schools?
With over 2 billion monthly active users on Instagram and over 500 million users who view Instagram Stories each day, schools need to be sharing content where their audience is spending time. (Source: Demand Sage) It’s that simple!
Stories will help your school…
- Increase engagement: Stories are interactive, with features like polls and questions to engage students, parents, and the community.
- Offer real-time updates: Stories are great for sharing daily activities, events, and urgent information.
- Share authenticity: Stories offer a more personal, behind-the-scenes view of school life.
- Highlight achievements: Stories are perfect for celebrating student and staff successes.
- Increase visibility: Regular Stories can boost the visibility of your other content in followers’ feeds.
- Crosspost to Facebook: You can also crosspost all of your Stories from Instagram onto Facebook! This means that the content you share has the potential to be seen by both your Instagram followers and your Facebook followers.
5 Simple Ways to Get Started with Instagram Stories
I want to encourage you to use Instagram Stories at least 1-2 times per week. Once you get the hang of it, you can aim for posting multiple times per day!
(1) Share a post from your page to your Story
You can share a feed post (photo or video) to Stories by going to the post you want to share and tapping the paper airplane icon, then tapping “add to story.”
When you share your feed posts to your Stories, you increase the views on that post. You’re essentially doubling the places where the post shows up! Your followers may see it by scrolling through their feeds or spot it in the active Stories at the top of their feeds.
(2) Share a post from another page to your Story
Want to know something really cool? The Stories you share on your page don’t have to be created by you!
If you have other clubs, organizations, or sports teams who share content on separate Instagram accounts, you can easily share that content to your Story to help build engagement for their page and further celebrate your school. The content will be attributed to the original creator’s account, but your Instagram account will still be seen as a great source for consuming positive updates about your students and staff.
For example, the content below was posted to the Woodbury County Middle School Instagram account, but then the district account shared the post to its Stories!
(3) Post a flyer
Instagram is a very visual platform and I encourage schools to use feed posts for eye-catching photos and videos, not text-heavy flyers. This doesn’t mean you can’t post reminders and informational items on Instagram; it just means you should use Stories instead of the feed!
While images that are shared on Stories only remain on the screen for 5 seconds, viewers can hold their thumbs on the content to view it longer.
(4) Share moments throughout an event
Instagram Stories are perfect for sharing authentic, behind-the-scenes updates for your followers. When there is a lot of activity happening during an event or competition, post a combination of photos and videos in your Stories! It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you really can’t over-post to Stories.
For example, the New Auburn School District holds an annual academic night. The district invites parents and community members to see what students are learning.
I’m certainly not a professional, but check out how I shared photos and interviews to Stories on the night of this event! This was an event that I decided to save to Highlights so that our followers could view it after 24 hours passed.
(5) Post a link
Instagram doesn’t allow working links within captions on posts made to your feed. This makes Stories the PERFECT spot to share content that requires links! Within the sticker options, there is one that says “LINK.” This allows you to paste a link and customize the text, and then share to your Story.
There you go! I hope you enjoyed these five simple ways to get started with Instagram Stories. I’m sure many of you have found additional ways to use this feature to engage your community, so feel free to share your ideas below!