Social Media Stories are those short-term photos and videos that you can share to your channel for 24 hours before disappearing. It was Snapchat that originally popularized the concept, but since then it has taken off and is now a common feature on the vast majority of social media sites.
That includes Facebook and Instagram, but also sites like YouTube and even Skype!
This surge in popularity is due to the simple and excellent concept that is behind Social Media Stories to begin with. Firstly, they allow creators to generate content that perhaps isn’t so carefully created as it won’t end up on their account. Secondly, it allows for a more immediate and urgent form of communication, that encourages more interaction with viewers. This taps into that feeling many of us know called FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out!
It’s why people are generally very quick to respond to social media Stories.
But while Stories are often quick and off-the-cuff, they also have the potential to be polished and high quality. Depending on the nature of your brand, this can be an important way to reflect on your business, and to stand out from the crowd.
Read on to learn some of the most powerful methods you can use to get more from your Stories. We will split this report into two sections: image and video. That said, it’s worth reading both as a lot of the same concepts will cross over!
Types of Photos
The first thing to do is to note the types of photos you want for your account. If you have a B2B company, then your imagery will be completely different to the imagery you’ll use around a travel blog.
A business for instance might show the team working hard on a new project, or might post about a new product release. A travel vlogger on the other hand might film themselves talking about a long flight, or might upload a panorama of a stunning hotel room.
The general idea of Stories is usually to provide some form of privileged access to the most hardcore fans, and to let them feel as though you are speaking directly to them. For a vlogger this is easy, but for a big business it can be a challenge to tow that line between professionalism and feeling ‘raw’ and authentic.
Making it Look Professional
The first way to ensure that your images look professional is to use a good camera. This is very important and can be the difference between images that look amateurish and images that have the professional sheen. If you intend on taking all your Story photos from a phone – which is an option – then make sure it is one with a good camera. The best options right now are the Google Pixel phones or Apple iPhones.
Using a high quality camera doesn’t necessarily detract from the ‘behind the scenes’ feel of a Story. A shot of your office after-hours is still a shot of the office after hours, but by using a high quality camera you show your business in a slightly better light.
Likewise, while you might have a messy desk in real-life, this is something else you might want to tone down. Not only will the image look better if the background is less cluttered, but it will also present your business as a more organized one. You want to show people a little behind the curtain but still ensure that your image is carefully orchestrated.
You also need to think a little bit about the composition of your photos. Don’t just point and click, but instead arrange the various elements in a way that gives your photo depth. For instance, using a path leading into the distance can draw the eye from the centre to a focal point, while at the same time giving your image a greater 3D feeling. Likewise choosing images that are in both the foreground and background can give your picture more layers.
Framing is another useful strategy which means taking a photo so that there’s an element such as a tree along one side of the photo, while you should also look at the different ways to play with expectations: the subject doesn’t have to go right in the middle of the shot, why not have them slightly to one side? Making pictures interesting and showing that you gave at least a little thought to them can make a huge difference to the way that they come across.
Consider lighting too. Don’t just shoot a person with a strong light source behind them, as they’ll look dark and the exposure will be all wrong. The best angle for lighting is for it to hit the subject at a 90 degree angle. Take that extra moment, and your shot will look all the better for it.
How to Photograph Products
This becomes extremely important if you want to promote a product. This is one scenario where you want to ensure your brand looks professional, and that the subject of the photo has a sheen and an appeal.
To photograph a product, there are a few different things to keep in mind. Some of these are things we’ve already considered. For example: it’s important to consider lighting. Here, investing in at least a small light box can make a huge difference by creating some dramatic shadows.
Thinking about backdrop is also important. And one of the most popular options when it comes to backdrops for products is plain white. A MacGyver way to achieve that is simply to take a white bed sheet and then to pull it taut over a table or similar. Now you can stand your product in the middle and shine your light just how you want it.
ALWAYS make sure that the product is crystal clean. Find a microfiber cloth and take the time to wipe it down. Otherwise a few fingerprints or a little bit of dust or lint can make it seem significantly less
Another option is to zoom right in on specific aspects of your product. If you choose a camera wide a wide aperture then you can set the focus to the extreme foreground. This will blur out everything in the background, which is idea if you want to show off – say – the keyboard on a shiny new computer. Then there is always the argument for showing products in use and the way that they help make their owners’ lives better.
Photo Editing With Photoshop
And of course, don’t forget editing! If you really want to take your Stories to the next level, then doing a little editing before uploading them can make a world of difference.
Learning to use Photoshop is a very worthwhile skill to develop and one that can be useful in a large number of situations. Of course if you’re at all interested in web design, graphic design, photography, art or even app development; being able to create your own backgrounds and images will be a great help and could even enhance your career! And actually, being able to list Photoshop skills on a CV can help with a great many different jobs.
But of course what we’re interested in right now, is using Photoshop for Stories.
So how do you go about starting to learn?