How to Use Instagram Stories for the Technologically Challenged
I thought I’d write a post on how to use Instagram Stories for any of you out there that hasn’t explored it yet. A couple of my neighbors were talking about it recently, and I said I’d love to teach a class about it. Needless to say that hasn’t happened, but I realized I could do it this way. And even Nancy, my stepmom, is going to start getting on the platform, so this is as much for her as anyone else.
Quote of the day: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic. – Arthur C. Clarke
You have to admit that the things we can do on our phones and computer is almost magic. Just the idea that I can “talk” with people halfway across the world is amazing. Granted not everyone embraces the magic, and that’s okay too. The advantages of the internet is something I discussed recently, and I still believe it.
For those of you who don’t have an Instagram account, you may not think you need one. And you could be right. It’s just one other way to follow the blogs you like (like me) and a way to get inspiration from others. I’m going to talk mostly about how to use Instagram stories, but let me start off with the basics of Instagram first.
And as an aside, I happen to like Instagram stories the best out of any of the social platforms. It’s more of a “real” look into people’s lives, kinda like the behind the scenes views. Sure, there’s some curated things, but overall, you get to see more of what everyone is doing/saying/visiting/etc… And yes, you can do most of this from your computer, not just your phone.
Say, you want to start an Instagram account. Trust me, you can do this and be a voyeur. You don’t have to post anything or even comment.
First you’ll need to download the app (it’s free) and figure out your “handle” which is your name. Now realize this could be a challenge because there are 1 billion people on it every month. Then once you’re on the platform, a screen like the photo below is what you’ll see once you start following people.
1– The circles at the top of the screen are Instagram stories. I’ll show you more about what to do when you’re in someone’s stories in the next couple of photos.
2– The arrow at the top of the right hand side is for DMs. DM’s are direct messages. Basically they are like a quick email, or like Facebook messenger. If you comment on someone’s Instagram stories and they reply, it’ll show a red number there. Click on it and you can easily reply back.
3– If you want to go to someone’s “feed” (which is another word for their posts) you would click their handle and it will take you to the next photo below.
4– Now if you’re looking for someone/something in particular. This is the search area. It will take you to a page where Instagram will also give you options of accounts you may want to see. But you can also type in someone’s handle at the top. When you click on the second magnification glass you will also have the option to choose accounts, tags or even places. This is where it’s great to search for certain items or places. Like you can type in grey hair under tags (hashtag are basically categories) and you will see many options.
When you do search or click on someone’s handle, it will take you the page that looks like the photo below. This is their “feed” which includes something about them along with their Instagram posts. You can also view Instagram stories from someone’s feed.
1– Like on your homepage, Instagram stories are shown in a circle. So when you are on the feed, if there is a red circle around the profile photo, then they have some stories you can watch. Not everyone uses stories, or won’t have any for the last 24 hours. THAT IS THE DRAW of stories. They only last 24 hours. Therefore, you can be goofy and it’s not like it’s permanent!!
2– There is only one place in Instagram that you can link to anything else. And it’s on the feed here. People will sometimes say “link in my bio”, and this is where they mean. In my link, I use an app that allows me to include many different links. For example if you want to check out the Peach clothing line, I give you a direct link. Or you can see the discount page for all of the products I have reviewed with Life Sprouts Bioceuticals.
3– This area is for “highlights.” That’s another term that is thrown around occasionally. Since Instagram stories only last for 24 hours, you can save the especially good ones here for people to see all the time. For me, I always update our thrifting challenge here so you can see the dates of the next one.
4– And these are Instagram Posts. This is where I’ll share my outfits for our Thrifting Challenge every month. Or other sponsored material, along with ideas I’ve been thinking about. While it may seem silly, I have learned many things in my Instagram posts. One time I posted about a winter jacket I had thrifted but it had stains on it. And someone suggested painting it. Which is what I did and you can see in this post.
How to Use Instagram Stories
Now let’s get onto the best part of Instagram. The stories. And I’m showing my friend, Barbie’s story here. I met Barbie at our last FierceCon. Another prime example of how social media can be a good thing.
1– So when you click on someone’s circles profile photo to get to their stories, this is basically what you’ll see. Those dashes at the top are each a story. A story is only 15 seconds, so many of them are a continuation. Just think of a book. Each dash is a page, and they can combine to be a fun story!
2– Sometimes the story will have the option to “swipe up” which is also showcased by the “see more” arrow at the bottom. This means you can go straight to another website to check out a product or post. How do you swipe up? Take your finger and place it basically on the see more arrow and then move it upwards on the screen.
2 also– If there isn’t a see more button in this area, then there is a place to send a message. This means you can comment on the story, even if it’s just sending a fun emoji!! I love getting these messages, so please feel free to use this!
3– This arrow in the bottom of the stories is a share arrow. That means if you see a cool story that you want to share with me (or anyone else) you click on that. It takes you to a screen where you can write a message (“Check out this fabulous outfit), and send it to me (by searching for jtouchofstyle). It should show up in my DM!
4– Now many times you’ll see tags in the stories. Tagging someone or some brand means you’re tapping them on the shoulder to say “hey, look at this”. And you do that by using the “@” symbol in front of their name. The nice thing about this in Instagram, is that you can then click on that tagged name, and it will allow you to go straight to their feed.
Navigating Instagram Stories
Here’s another of my friend’s Instagram Stories. This is Cindy’s, who lives in Colorado too. I’m explaining this because it’s not always obvious what to do when you’re in the stories. Sure you can let it just play along as it will. But you do have some control too.
1– Like I explained in Barbie’s stories, the dashes at the top show all of the pages in that day’s book. If you are looking at one story, but want to go ahead to the next page, you tap on the right hand side of the screen. (If you swipe to the right, you will bypass this person’s stories and go to the next one).
2– Now if you want to go back, it’s just as easy. Tap on the left side of the screen to return to some of the older stories. Again, you can swipe left to leave this person’s stories and go back to another person’s.
3– Sometimes you want more time to read everything on a story. If you don’t touch the screen at all, it will only stay up 15 seconds. But if you want to pause it, just press your finger in the middle AND leave your finger on the screen. It will allow you to hold it there indefinitely.
4– Here’s that send message area I was talking about above. When you click on it, your keyboard will pop up and sometimes even quick reactions (emojis) so it’s easy to comment.
EXTRA– When you want to exit all stories just swipe down. Meaning take your finger at the top of the screen and slide in down to the bottom real quick. This will take you back to where you were when you started watching the stories.
What You Will See in my Instagram Stories
I almost always have something in my stories. To me it’s such a fun way to share what’s going on in my life. I almost always link to the blog post of the day, and sometimes include a poll about the subject. This is where I love to see how others differ from me.
I also love to include inspirational messages that I read on other people’s feed or stories. Like the one below. To me it speaks volumes about how we approach life.
I’ve also been including my outfits of the day (OOTD). Sometimes you’ll see these outfits on the blog in my challenges where I style a piece many ways. But most of the time, it’s daily life that I don’t have a chance to share otherwise.
You’ll also see many stories of our cats, any purchases I’ve made, along with lots of food. Last month it included a ton of ice cream shots for Rob’s birthday!
So I hope you’ll join along if you haven’t done so already. If you’re a normal person, you can easily check in for 5 minutes a day and not have it be so overwhelming!!
One thing to keep in mind when you are on Instagram, this platform is focused on the millennials. Millennials think differently and that’s not a bad thing. You just have to train your brain to try other ways. Therefore, remember that you can usually swipe up or down or sideways to get to other places. If you’re lost and want to get out, just press the home button. There’s not an owner’s manual, so it can be confusing.
Also, the platform is constantly changing. It evolves just like we should. Therefore, you may find something new or different as time goes on. Don’t be afraid to click on something you don’t know what it is. You won’t break it.
Like I said at the beginning, you can access Instagram from your computer too. And you can watch people’s stories. Just remember to click on the circled profile photo to see them. You can “swipe up” with the see more detail by clicking on the arrow instead. What you can’t do is leave a message.
And think about this if you’re initial reaction is I’m too old for this. My mother (who is somewhat technologically challenged) is on Instagram and comments on my posts a lot. AND she’s 81!! This is how you can keep up with your kids and grandkids too!
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