How To Set Up Instagram Story Highlights

If you like to hang out on Instagram you might have noticed the Instagram stories highlight feature. If you have no idea what I’m referring to then you might have seen the little circles on a person’s profile about the main grid. They will only be there if that person has added them so don’t worry if you haven’t come across them yet.

The benefit to these ‘highlights’ is that you can add some of your quick posts that aren’t quite grid-worthy but that you want to hang around for longer than 24 hours. You can even add posts retrospectively but bear in mind that highlights are shown chronologically from oldest to newest.

 

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I am a huge fan of having everything coordinated so as soon as I made the decision to start using highlights on my profile, I wanted to create some cover photos for each category so that they looked pretty and consistent. You can have as many highlights as you want but remember that visitors might not be keen to keep scrolling through endless stories, so only pick your favourites and keep it relevant. It is also worth pointing out that you might only be able to see 4 or 5 highlights (on larger screens) at initial glance so keep those for your best posts.

Setting up highlights is pretty simple but it does require a little bit of faffing to get the covers where you want them. Annoyingly you have to have added the covers as part of an existing story. My workaround was to design and add all the ones I wanted at once with an apology/ explanation as to what I was doing. I’ll no doubt have to add some more covers as I plan more highlights.

Step 1: Create your custom covers in your favourite design programme. The dimensions are 1080 x 1920 pixels for a story so it will be easiest to position the text by creating files of these dimensions first. Here is a handy guide to give you an idea. I saved them at 72dpi and the quality was fine as they are going to be very small.

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Step 2: Download the files onto your phone and then upload the covers as an Instagram story in the usual way. You might want to make the posts into a actual story if you don’t want to confuse your followers.

Step 3: There are two ways to turn them into highlights. The first option is to view your story and click the heart in the bottom right, it will then allow you to create a new highlight or add to an existing one. Alternatively you can click on the circle on your profile with a + in the middle and the word ‘new’ underneath to set up your highlights. You can do the same thing to add individual stories from the past but remember they will go before the cover post. You can only post stories older than 24 hours using the second method.

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Step 4: When you are on your own profile page (as shown above) you can view each highlight tag that you have set up and click the three dots in the bottom right and choose edit highlight. This is where you can add and edit the cover, you can even reposition it to ensure it is completely central etc. Click done to save your changes.

I hope that helps explain the method I use to keep my Insta profile looking tidy and coherent. If you need any more help feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.

DIY – Create Your Own Photo Boards

All views expressed here are my own personal recommendations and this post contains no affiliate links.

In late 2017 I was hit with the photography bug so I invested in a DSLR camera and took a few online photography courses. Up until that point I had been solely using my iPhone camera for my product photos which is Ok for quick snapshots but I realised my photos were just lacking spark and I couldn’t get the depth of field that I wanted. Anything business related is worth the investment of both time and money and this is one thing I can’t believe I didn’t do earlier!

Through taking the courses and researching other photographers I discovered how much I favour natural light photography over studio photography and have decided to use natural light exclusively. It does have its limitations especially in Winter or rainy days but knowing how to work the camera means I can easily make the most of the good light days.

My dining room is being used as my pop up photo studio as it is painted white and contains a large table. The large window (almost full length, I know I’m lucky!) is North facing which offers the most consistent light and early afternoon seems to be the ‘magic hour’ for photography. However, I still find that I can still get harsh shadows on the opposite side of the product I’m photographing so reflector boards are a must!

You can buy fancy reflector boards but all you need is something white and reflective so I purchased some large A1 Foamex boards from Hobbycraft (4 for £10!) and can prop these up around my shoot and even use them as a base.

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Whilst doing my research into product photography techniques I discovered PhotoBoards by Lindsey James. These are solid boards with high resolutions backgrounds printed directly onto them and they are so good for ensuring consistent product photos. I’ll admit I have invested in a few so far and I will be ordering a few more as I love them.

However, I think it is Ok to have a few DIY ones in my collection too as sometimes you want to test out a different colour or texture before committing or you might just need a one off design.

How I created my own photo boards.

Remember those white reflector boards I mentioned earlier? I found a way to make them multi-purpose. I paid a visit to a large DIY store and took some samples of wallpaper (I was shopping for other items too!). I carefully picked ones that were quite realistic looking and weren’t too contrasting in texture. You can pick up some amazing textured vinyl style papers including brick effect, tiles and slate etc.

After lots of umming and ahhing I settled on a rustic painted brick, a whitewashed wooden plank and a black stitched leather. Then I simply trimmed them to length using a craft knife and used permanent spray mount (also Hobbycraft) and stuck one onto each of A1 Foamex board.

TOP TIP: Make sure the two edges are lined it up so you can use it as a wall without a gap showing

It’s easy peasy to just switch the boards round when I need either white or background or use two together. The benefit is the boards are white on one side so they still function as reflector boards too when used that way.

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This is a really cost effective and quick DIY that means you can switch up your photography backgrounds very quickly. These DIY boards can get tatty quite quickly so if you are intending to do a lot of photo shoots then I would still recommend purchasing the official PhotoBoards as they are so sturdy and hardwearing, Lindsey James also runs PhotoCraft, a photography discussion and education group for creative business which is worth joining for amazing tips for helping you on your photography journey.

What do you think to this DIY? Do you have any ideas of your own for shooting with natural light? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email!

Brand Challenge – The Results

A few weeks ago I had the idea of organising a social media challenge in an attempt to help clarify my own brand and hear from the community about their own businesses. I’ll be honest and say that it wasn’t the riproaring success that I had hoped for and it was mainly down to being hit by an Instagram ‘Shadowban’ on day 2 of the challenge.

If you don’t know what a Shadowban is then it is when any posts that use hashtags do not show up in searches and therefore it kills engagement. The way I knew it had happened was my engagement dropped to 10% overnight so to confirm I created a new account  to spy on myself (essentially looking for unique hashtags that I have used and seeing if I appear in the results). There doesn’t seem to be any real reason behind it but some people suggest it is overusing hashtags or using hashtags that are ‘banned’. Whatever the reason it is frustrating and demoralising. I ploughed on with the challenge regardless, I just opted to not use any hashtags until the ban was lifted; which was nearly 2 weeks later.

One of the positives that came out of the challenge was the content that I managed to create for my social media and I will show you some of the posts. Another positive was seeing the people who were joining in and I’ll shout out a few at the end.

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The challenge covered topics including Logo, Ethos, Mood, Collateral, Colour Palette & Typography. You can see the posts searching #CCBrandChallenge

Thank you to those that took part via Instagram and Facebook, here are a few of my highlights. I’m hoping to redo the challenge in the future and hopefully get more of the community involved as I think branding is such an important topic that every business needs to build on.

From left to right:

@zetaemmedesign
@hanmadeincornwall
@sallyflorencedesigns

Has anyone else been hit by an Instagram Shadow ban, can you shed anymore light on it? I’d love to hear your experiences.