It happened when she turned the camera around. It was just a small thing, but at that moment I realized that we really are connected. All we want to show the best side of ourselves and our world we can in whatever medium we are using. Huge revelations came flooding into my brain with the flip of a camera.
I was watching a live Instagram Story with a social media maven. She is brilliant and beautiful and her world reflects this. But she turned the camera around once to show something outside her window. That was when I realized her neighborhood looked very similar to mine… a breeze block wall, a neighbor’s house just feet away. I was instantly put at ease. You see, I’d been getting caught up in that terrible habit of comparing, and wondering where my work and my life fell in the grand scheme of things. As I’ve since been reminded, comparison is a dangerous, slippery slope.
We turn to social media to see other lives. To get a connection. But it’s just nicer when the world we are looking at is beautiful, amiright?
That’s when I started to think about what the ingredients are for why we follow someone on Instagram Stories (and what my own story had to tell … tune in next week for that). I’ve broken the stories into categories here and have noted some people and companies that I follow regularly because they are telling me something that is fresh, engaging, informative or just insanely funny!
The main thing is that their Instagram stories are truly stories and not some random one off. (Some tips here) And, that they are authentic, for the most part. It’s something that a social media “guru” can’t just do for you. Of course you can “produce” the stories (see Food Stories, AgenC and New York Times below), putting a professional polish on them, but for the most part, the actual person is doing the stories for better or worse and that’s where all the fun is!
Aspirational | Creative | Lifestyle
@_foodstories_ Achingly beautiful photos of a food stylist’s life in Berlin. It’s those bursts of sunlight and the gorgeous food that keep me coming back. And in summer, their bike rides to the lake make me want to get on a plane and become a food stylist. My only pet peeve on this is that they have gotten very, very slick with the use of a graphic design program as you can see above. I don’t begrudge them that, because I can’t turn away from their images.
@jasminestar She is the whole ball of wax, this one. Beautiful, witty, and can talk a blue streak! She also has the lifestyle, aspirational and inspirational, and Instagram Stories that inform her tribe on how to use Instagram. The one above is directing viewers to a video on hashtags. I really LIKE that fact that she put that sticker “sound on” there … nice to get a heads up on that!
@newdarlings This husband and wife lifestyle team have 429,000 followers, sharing style, travel and their home in Arizona. Their world is as darling as it their name and they have some great sponsors such as Target, but they weave it in very well. Why do people follow them? My guess … consistency + good looks + good information + friendly approachable style + oh, and a dog!
@thefatjewish Social media celebrity (yes, it’s a thing,especially at 10.1 million followers). First time I ever heard of him was from my friend who doesn’t even use Instagram!! We were in line at a supermarket and this guy in a hoodie and weird pants and flip flops was in front of us when she screamed — loudly — “Oh my God, you are the Fat Jew!” You can imagine my chagrin. But he indeed was The Fat Jewish, he who does videos with Madonna at a spa, he of one vertical ponytail. He’s not a pretty picture, and he knows it, and uses that for all it’s worth! Sharp witted, bitingly so, on celebrities and pop life. Always a laugh.
@justinanderson On the flip side, there is funny and good looking. Colorist to the stars, creative director of the product line @dphue, Justin Anderson’s life is fun to follow. Truly a slice of Los Angeles that people think really exists! Haha… I guess it really does for some! 🙂
@Jengotch Chief Creative Officer at @shopbando. I worry about her. Sometimes I laugh – at her cricket telling her to get ice cream, or her impromptu garage dances — but other times I’m not sure if I should call for help. But I suppose it’s that never knowing what she will say that brings so many followers back.
@warnerbrosevent Going behind-the-scenes of a major Hollywood studios is a treat! From big premieres to intimate dinner parties or business events on the lot that day, the stories follow a thread from beginning to end that is satisfying and fun. Tune in!
JeffLeatham takes you behind the scenes of some of the most amazing events across the world. Lots of flowers, lots of champagne, and a lot of Jeff in a tank top. Let’s just saw he knows what his audience likes!
@Wifeoftheparty will have you falling in love with the world of Loriann Serna which includes a cast of family, friends and friendors. This includes husband Herick Serna, daughter Frankie as well as the newest addition to the family, Lucca Bleu. Be prepared to be there for Lucca’s many meals … a detail that I completely adore! It’s all pretty darn cute AND, certainly not least, Loriann takes you behind the scenes of some wild parties with the glitterati.
@shawnayamamoto This one is always working, always designing! Uber creative, she takes you behind the scenes. And for me, the best part of her Instagram Stories are the design contest she does in her studio. A great way to really let your audience feel part of what you do and who your team is.
@weareagenc Very thoughtfully produced and always jam packed with good stuff. What I like about their stories is that every third week or so, they will actually do a little sales pitch in the stories as you can see above. I think it’s done well and it tells me what they do…not the easiest message to convey but they do it nicely.
This category of story telling is a risk. It’s the subject of my next article, Instagram Stories: The Space Between. Here are two that I follow that show me a regular day in a mother-effing charming ways. You see it all… the PJs, the cereal mornings, the garden as it grows, the dog on the couch, the kids going for a walk. It’s all totally lovely.
@laracasey This one has inspired me for years! Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she uses her location and her family to tell her story and to show how to use her Powersheets goal-setting system. It’s all pretty seamless and fun to watch, with a thread of religion running through it … I never mind that. She’s so sincere and sweet. It all works! As to her story here, by the time I was ready with this blog, she hadn’t posted an Instagram Story. This is taken from the launch of her Powersheets last month. Find out more about what I liked about that Story here.
@theonlinestylist As much as Lara Casey’s world is a total pastel color palette, English style blogger Amanda Start’s world is totally monochromatic. Both equally beautify. I love the photos of dogs in pubs, of walks on the Cornish beach, and her cashmere clothes that she styles … online, natch!
Brands … no surprises here but they are doing it so well. I always learn something from them.
@nytimes tells a great Instagram Story. If they can’t, I don’t know who can! I love their style, and at the end of each, they give credits, further lending weight to the medium of Instagram Stories.
@bonappetit I love their humor, their progressive stories, and the fact that I get a ton of recipes and ideas from their stories.
@thevenuereport Their stories are beautiful, well produced and always fun.
@archdigest Beautiful. And a great example of how a print / digital magazine can use Instagram Stories to lead traffic to their web site.
Who do you follow on Instagram Stories and why? I’d love to know.