4 reasons I love Instagram Stories

Ariel Stallings from Offbeat Empire

Yesterday I posted on Offbeat Empire's Facebook page about how, if folks want to follow along with me behind the scenes, they should follow @offbeatbride's Instagram Stories. A couple commenters were like, "But wait I don't use Instagram, how can I see that content?" and the answer is…

…you can't.

And here's more about why.

Content is very much contextual for me. The kind of content that works in one format (say, a blog) can totally not translate in another format (say, social media). The kind of content that succeeds with one audience (say, Google searchers) can totally fail with another audience (say, Facebook followers). As media consumers, we interact with different content in different ways. I might want something time-killing from Facebook, something pretty from Instagram, something thoughtful from a blog, and something useful from Google. We interact with our platforms with different goals, different mindsets, and different motivations.

The 24-hour format that Instagram Stories stole from Snapchat provides a unique context for content, and I love it for four reasons:

  1. The temporary nature is super freeing and reduces the pressure on me to make something perfect that I can stand behind forever and ever amen.
  2. The culture of Instagram is light and visual, which reduces the amount of community management / moderation overhead I have to deal with. Honestly, after 8 years of managing the Offbeat Bride Tribe and a decade of comment moderation on Offbeat Bride, I am burned out on moderating.
  3. The 24-format means that followers have to keep up in real-time, which creates a whole different relationship. It's more personal, more ambient, and feels like the membrane between publisher/follower is thinner.
  4. It's a new digital publishing toy, and part of what I love about my work is playing with new toys. New formats are fun! Exploring the differences in how the content is produced and consumed is part of what I love about my career.

If you want more discussions of these four reasons, hey look! I made a video!

(The irony of using Facebook Live to talk about Instagram Stories is not lost on me, but the "Live" function of Instagram Stories is real-time only, and in this case I actually DID want to make a more permanent piece of video content for y'all. META CONTENT! CONTENT INCEPTION! It's content all the way down!)

I totally get that this content in this format isn't a fit for everyone. A real-life friend was trying to figure out if he should follow me on Facebook or Instagram, and I was all, "Instagram, fucker!"

He was all, "Ariel, it's a lot."

And he's not wrong!

I post a dozen times a day over on Instagram Stories! I post on my personal Facebook a couple times a week, and it's mostly just stuff about my kid for his grandparents. My Instagram Stories include stupid dance videos, me rambling about my new book and showing how I use a spreadsheet to track my chapter progress, pictures from around Seattle, my silly little shivering toothless dog, confessionals about rough days, and meaningless status updates. Part of what I love about Instagram Stories is that I am very well aware all this shit isn't all that important… which is why I'm stoked it just rolls away after 24 hours.

(Also, Ariel: It's A Lot should probably just be my new life motto.)

All this being said, I will make an effort to update offbeatempire.com a little more often… but if you're looking for the place where I'm having the most fun with content these days? It's @offbeatbride's Instagram Stories.

 

  1. While I understand that this is what works for you, I admit I'm a bit disappointed by this. I'm a text-based sort of person, so Instagram's formatting just really doesn't work for me, and I dislike not being able to find content again because it's self-deleting. Is there a way I can get a mirror version that doesn't involve checking a website I don't like multiple times daily (RSS or the like), or is this a case of "this isn't for you, you should go find something that is"? (If the latter, that's fine! Just trying to clarify.)

    1 agrees
    • I'm a text-based sort of person, so Instagram's formatting just really doesn't work for me

      They key here is that, if you're a text-based sort of person, Instagram content just isn't text-based… so it's probably just not content you're going to enjoy. It won't be mirrored anywhere, but even if it was… it still wouldn't be text-based. (Let's imagine, say, a daily blog post on offbeatempire.com that was just a series of photos and videos. Even if it was embedded/archived daily, it just isn't text.)

      I think this boils down it sounding like my experiments with Instagram Stories aren't for you — which is totally fine! The Offbeat Empire still cranks out a TON of text-based content (offbeatbride.com and offbeathome.com are both available via web or emailed newsletter, plus our Facebook feeds, plus the book I'm working on, and and and!), and this is definitely a different direction.

      It's interesting because, like you, I've always been a text-based person — this is a big departure for me, too!

      1 agrees
    • I'm a text based person too. I like to read and if you give me a choice between a 5 minute video and an article, I will pick the article every time. I can read much faster than somebody can speak but more importantly my reading speed is variable – fast over boring bits and slow over important ones. The relative inability to do that with video makes me a little nuts.
      BUT
      I still like looking at Instagram in general and the stories in particular. It's really like the video form of reading because you can control the pace. Also in general the content is so light, I never feel like I need to reference it again, nor do I worry about missing any. Try it!

      5 agree
  2. I don't think I check Instagram Stories more than once a day. Yeah you're pretty prolific but they're short and it really doesn't take much time to flick through them all. If I forget to check and miss some posts, shrug – I'm not bothered. Another bus will come by soon.
    As far as the "live" events go, I think I've caught exactly 1 event across all the Instagram users I follow. If they pop up when I'm busy or I'm somewhere inappropriate, again, I'm not bothered.
    They're so light and transient, it's really hard to see how they could be considered a burden. I mean, there's no test afterwards. And nobody gets butthurt if I don't comment for several days ( …weeks… ).

    I SAY DO IT!!

    1 agrees
    • Yeah, as compared to this 13 minute rambling video (haaaa), my Stories can only be 15 seconds long. Gotta keep me reigned in.

  3. I love your Instagram stories- particularly the bits about your writing routines(that spreadsheet: genius!). I'm 8 months post-dissertation defense, and still trying to get some of that ready to publish, so other people's writing angst/routines/tips and tricks makes me feel less crazy and alone.

    1 agrees
    • Thanks! Sometimes I feel like there's nothing more boring than writing about writing… so maybe INSTAGRAMMING about writing is less boring? Or maybe not. 😛

  4. Love this! I've never really understood Snapchat, and deleted the app from my phone because I never used it, but Insta stories are so user friendly!

    I've really enjoyed your Instagram stories and updates. I like the little peeks into people's lives, and if it's something you're not interested in, you can just swipe through. It's interesting you point out the fleeting nature of the stories. I have found myself wanting to share things lately, but I am increasingly hesitant to post on Facebook or even traditional Instagram, because IT LIVES FOREVER (thanks, facebook memories, for reminding me of how ridiculous 2008 me was…) and WHO CARES? Instagram stories is really an outlet for this type of thing.

    I have also always been a text based person as well, so I too am surprised by my affinity for stories. Definitely try it!

    • Yeah, I love the fleeting-ness of it. I mean, I have my settings so that all the photos and video I post to Stories are saved on my phone, and it's not like I expect Instagram to delete them forever omg security issue bla bla bla… it's just nice that if someone starts following Offbeat Bride today, they're only seeing my stupid shit from TODAY in stories. I know my "brr it's cold today!" selfie is only interesting for about 2 seconds (if that!), so it's great to be able to share stuff knowing that it'll just gently roll away….

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