Instagram released the ability to create ‘stories’ in August 2016. Much like Snapchat, Instagram stories allow users to post images and video which disappears after 24 hours. Active stories display at the top of the user’s feed and are ordered by an algorithm much like usual posts.
What this means is that the real estate at the front of a user’s Stories feed is just as competitive as your position in their news feed. If you want to stand out from the hundreds of other accounts that your target audience is probably following, you need to create an edge. How do you do that? Don’t just post Instagram stories, turn them into an interactive game!
There are a few key rules you need to follow in order to successfully create a game with an Instagram story. Firstly, there needs to be a certain action or process that you want to gamify. It could be as simple as making a cup of tea or as complex as building a cubby house or cooking a meal for a dinner party. Regardless of the process, the goal is to demonstrate or highlight your product in a unique way. Once you’ve decided on the action you’re going to gamify, you need to break it down into individual steps. We recommend creating yourself a little story board, this will act as the step-by-step guide to your Instagram game.
We made things even easier by marking our steps with either a ∆ to represent a still image which gives instruction, or ★ to represent a video which performs action.
Before we get started, there are a few key things to remember about Instagram stories:
- All images last for 5 seconds unless the user decides to skip through quicker
- Tapping on the left of the frame causes the story to move one post backwards, while tapping on the right causes it to move one post forwards. These are the actions we are going to take advantage for our Instagram game.
Start by introducing what you’re doing. For example ‘Today we’re going to show you how to make a cup of tea’. You may consider following this with ‘you will need’ in order to highlight the objects or ingredients required to complete the task. This is particularly advantageous if you’re marketing or demonstrating how to use a certain product, like a brand of teabags.
The game plot
The introduction is much like any other Instagram story. The game plot is where the interaction begins – this is where things can get a little confusing, but with a little practice it’s quite simple. All you need to remember is to alternate your ∆ or ‘instruction’ frames with your ★ or ‘action’ frames. In order for your game to flow and make sense to the user, we recommend alternating these.
For example, our story board looks a little like this
- ∆ Tell your audience that you’re teaching them to make a cup of tea
- ∆ Tell them what item they need in order to complete the task
- ∆ Remember this is the instruction frame. Press the button to turn on the kettle. Remember, if you are telling your user to tap on the frame to prompt action, they NEED to be told to tap somewhere on the RIGHT hand side of the frame. Otherwise they’ll go backwards.
- ★ The video then shows the kettle being turned on
- ∆ Press this button to boil the kettle
- ★ A video shows of the kettle being turned on
- ∆ A photo shows that the water is now boiled
- ∆ Tap on the handle of the kettle to start pouring your water
- ★ A video shows the water being poured into the mug
- ∆ Tap on the handle to dunk your teabag
- ★ A video shows the teabag being dunked
- ∆ An image then shows the completed cup of tea.
As you can see, there are very few instances where the ∆ and ★ don’t alternate. This results in a clear and easily understood Instagram game!
- Don’t make your instructions too long. Remember the user has less than 5 seconds to read it! If it is too long, the next frame will appear without the user having to ‘tap’ on it. This ruins the illusion of the game.
- Hold your phone still when taking photos and video! Ideally your photo and video frames should start and finish with similar framing, this will keep the game feeling life-like and seamless.
- If you choose to use filters or coloured text, make sure this remains consistent across all posts in your game. This keeps the focus on the content, not the look and feel.
- Creating your Instagram game may take some time. You don’t want your audience to see your half uploaded story while you’re fumbling around to get the next frame or video – especially if you have a big audience of dedicated followers. The solution? This is a bit of a sneaky one, but create a separate Instagram account that is private and do your initial uploading here. Once your whole story is live, you can save each stage onto your camera roll. You can then publish it to your public Instagram quickly and seamlessly, without the fumble. Just don’t forget that Instagram doesn’t allow you to upload content from your camera roll that’s over 24 hours old. So if you’re using the above trick, make sure you don’t delay publishing by too much!