There are countless ways to use the Instagram app, and my hope is that these 12 ideas will either help get you started or spark some creativity if you’re already using it.
Tip 1: Use your phone’s native camera for pictures or video. Don’t use the app’s camera. Video and pictures taken in Instagram’s app are lower resolution than what your camera shoots. You’ll also have more limited options for editing your video or pictures if you shoot directly from the app. The downside to this is that your phone will run out of storage more quickly and need to be backed up more often.
Tip 2: Download and save everything captured. Set Instagram to automatically download all your images and videos (under Stories settings “Save Shared Photos”). You’ll never know what you want to remember or how you might need to reuse what you’ve shot. This is especially important when dealing with newsworthy video or pictures–what you shoot during the day may be important evidence, and you might need it later. Save everything.
Tip 3: Shoot vertically. People hold their phones vertically when scrolling through their feed, and because of that are less likely to rotate it when they land on your story. If your video is horizontal, it could push viewers to skip over it and ignore your story altogether. Learn to shoot vertically, and adapt your material to viewer preferences.
Tip 4: Edit and upload at the end of the day. This is especially important if you’re working with a weak internet connection–maybe somewhere rural or remote. If uploads fail, they are likely to sequence out of order when you finally get to upload everything, and that can ruin a narrative story arc. To get around this problem, sequence everything at once when you get somewhere with a strong internet connection. Uploading all at once also allows your viewers to see everything together instead of flipping back and forth between chapters, or only seeing one slide without much context.
Tip 5: Keep your videos between five and 10 seconds in length. Less than five seconds of video is barely enough to show a situation, and anything longer than 10 seconds will most likely get swiped over. Use the iPhone’s edit feature to trim the video to find the best part of your clips. Shooting 15- to 20-second clips at a time will help you create enough video to sort through and shorten later.
Tip 6: Make your text short and to the point. Condense the text that accompanies your story as much as possible. Assume people using Instagram have about the same reading attention span that you do (no offense). Using that as a guide, you probably only have a few seconds to command someone’s attention, even if the content is riveting. Use short sentences. Avoid long paragraphs. Instead, let your text extend over a few slides in sequence.