Thing 7.5: Social Stories

The Visual Communicator section of this course is probably the most information-dense part of the whole course. So much so, that we decided to break it up into two sections to make it more manageable: Option 1 and Option 2. Despite this, we found that we still had more that we wanted to share with you. So you are getting this bonus Thing - Thing 7.5 Storytelling with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. 

This Thing is not compulsory, and you do not have to complete any tasks or blog about your experience in order to be eligible for our Visual Communicator Badge. 

In our most recent blog post, Thing 7: Online Exhibitions we showed you how to create your own visual display online. This is a planned and formal way to present information visually online.

If you want to present a story in an informal way, direct to your followers, the Stories feature found in apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook is something to consider. The Stories feature, first developed by Snapchat and more recently adopted by Facebook and Instagram is growing in popularity and is definitely a preferred method of communication for the younger social media users. This feature allows you to share video and photos immediately via your phone, annotate the images with text, emoji and links, giving a real-time feel of what is happening in your library at that moment.

Users who are on these platforms know how this works and use the features extensively; they in turn expect to see stories that are quick to digest, playful, clever and interesting. If you run an institutional social media account and you want to target young people, then you are missing out if you're not using Stories to connect with them.

When you share a moment, usually a photo or video from your phone, to your story, the collective images become a slideshow that people can watch over and over, thereby increasing your viewing figures. This is important if you need to demonstrate the value of what you are doing in a work sense and it’s nice if you’re the vain type who likes to keep count of your number of views.

The apps allow you to edit your images, even write or doodle on them, add filters or geotags (a device that identifies your location). The photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in your feed.

Sharing Your Story on Instagram

Before you create your first story you should explore a few stories from Instagram users that you follow to see how other people are using it. When you open the Instagram app you will see a row of circled profiles of the people you follow across the top. Tap on a circle and you'll see that person's story.

Figure 1.

Tap the screen to skip through the images if there are more than one and swipe right or left to jump to another person’s story. Unlike regular Instagram posts, there are no likes or public comments on stories. You can message the person who's story you are viewing directly and the message will appear in their inbox.

Figure 2 

So, ready to make your own story?

Before you begin, make sure your Instagram app is up-to-date, check for the latest version in the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store.
Check your privacy settings are as you want them to be. You will find the settings area in your profile page (see figure 2.). From here, you can select specific people whom you do not want to see your stories and also choose whom you want to be able to send you messages from your stories (see figure 3.).

Depending on whether you are using an iPhone or an Android device the steps to creating a story on Instagram can differ slightly.

Figure 3

When you’re ready to create your first story, tap on your profile image with the + button at the top left of your Instagram home-screen or profile page (see figures 1. and 4.). From here, you can use the icons at the bottom of your screen from left to right to:

  • Add a photo or video from your phone gallery. 
  • Configure flash settings. 
  • Take a photo or video - tap to take a photo and hold down the button to take a video up to 10 seconds long. 
  • Switch the camera from front- to rear-facing.
  • Add a filter. 

Swipe the menu at the very bottom of the screen from left to right to chose between:

  • A live video 
  • A normal video or photo
  • A boomerang - a looped video that plays backwards and forwards continuously.
  • A rewind video.
  • Or hands free - allowing you to record video for 15 seconds without having to continuously hold down the button. 

Figure 4. 
 Once you have finished taking your photo or recording your video, you can now add text or draw on your photo or video using the options at the top right of the screen. At the bottom of the screen you have the option to download the photo or video to your camera roll.

If you’re satisfied with your edits and text, tap on the circle with the + symbol at the bottom  of the screen to add the photo or video to your story (see figure 5. ). If you tap 'next' you will be given the option to send your story directly to one of your followers but this is probably not something you want to do if you're using an institutional account.

Your story is now available to view via your profile picture at the top of the news-feed, right next to the stories from people you follow. Your photo will always appear first so you can easily access your current story at all times.

Figure 5

To add more photos or videos to your story tap  and hold the circled + icon at the top left  of your home screen, or your profile page (see figure 1. and 4.). Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Sharing Your Story on Snapchat

Snapchat is the original and most popular social storytelling app; every day over 1 billion snaps are sent via Snapchat worldwide. Ireland is the top country for Snapchat usage and the stories feature of Snapchat is the most used feature of the app. It's no surprise then that a growing number of libraries are using Snapchat for communications.

For a comprehensive list of libraries on Snapchat check out Librarian Enumerations blogpost here.

To create a story on Snapchat the steps are relatively the same as Instagram with a few extra features that Instagram doesn't offer.  There are a number of ways to get started. Option one is to tap on the plus symbol in the top-right hand corner of Stories section. From here you can create a story either for your followers, or publicly based on your location (see figure 6.).

Alternatively you can go directly to the screen to take a photo.

  • Tap on the circle in the bottom centre of your screen to take a snap.
  • Hold down the circle to take a video up to 10 seconds long. 
  • Explore the icons on the right-hand side to add text, colours and draw shapes. 
  • Swipe right to add icons such as your location, the date, filters and the temperature. 
  • Double tap the screen to swap between the front and rear-facing cameras. 

Figure 6.

Adding Your Snap or Video to Your Story

Once you've created your snap or video tap on the arrow on the bottom right marked 'send to'. You can now chose to add it to 'your story' or 'our story'.  Our Story is more publicly shared and can be discovered by people not following you, based on your location.

Figure 7.

To add more photos or videos to your story tap on the circled + icon at the top left to record more video or take a photo. Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Useful Snapchat Extras

Using Filters in Snapchat

When in selfie-mode, before you take a snap or video, tap on the image of your face and a list of filter options for your face will appear. - this is the fun bit.
Swipe this list to the left to try out the different filters - try raising your eyebrows or smiling to see the filters move and respond to your facial gestures.
Try the face-swap filter - this is the one with the two smiley faces. Grab a patron, or a book with a face on it and see what happens.
When you have chosen a filter you can either take a snap or record a video of yourself talking with this filter.

Saving Snaps

You can and should invite viewers to screenshot certain snaps that contained detailed information, as these will have disappeared after 24 hours.  This is useful if you're sharing timetables or other essential information. Likewise, if you see something interesting on someone’s Snap you should grab a screenshot, it might not be there the next time you remember to check back in.


Geofilters are a location-based overlay that can be added to a user's snaps. You are in theory supposed to be able to create your own geo-filter for your institution and submit it to Snapchat for approval. If successful, your geofilter will appear as an option for anyone who's sharing snaps while in your institution or library. This feature seems to have taken some time to fully develop, and it appears that Snapchat are now charging for the on-demand filters, and it's only available in the UK, US and Canada.

Sharing Your Story on Facebook

Facebook Stories brings a new video format to Facebook that closely resembles Instagram Stories.

Facebook Stories sits at the top of your mobile news feed and has two distinct parts: Direct and Stories. You’ll find Direct at the top left-hand side of your news feed and you can access it by tapping the paper airplane icon (see Figure 8.)

Figure 8. 

Direct is a new private messaging feature linked with Stories, and it allows you to view any story images or videos sent to you directly. You can also see any replies to your own stories.

Remember, Direct is a separate feature from Messenger, and unlike Messenger, you can only start a conversation with a story image or video, not with text.

Stories proper is located in the remaining area along the top of the news feed. Here you’ll see circles that represent the stories (videos and images) posted by you and your friends. Just tap the relevant circle to view a story, which will consist of one or more videos or images, looking something like this:

Figure 9. 

You can respond by typing a reply at the bottom of the screen. This reply will be visible only to the person who sent the story but it’s wise to remember he or she could take a screen grab and share it!

You can only see a story once and the story creator will be able to see who’s viewed his or her story.

If you want to see all of someone’s story quickly or jump to a specific element, simply tap at the top to skim the content. If you want to skip to the next friend’s story, then swipe across the top instead.

To Create a Story on Facebook: 

  • Tap on the circle icon of your profile picture with the  + symbol. 
  • Swipe up to quickly scroll through some of the filter options.
  • Tap on the wand symbol to select from a more extensive menu of filters. 
  • Tap the button take a photo or hold it down to take video. 
  • Double tap the screen to switch between front and rear facing cameras. 
  • Tap the picture icon on the bottom right to chose pictures from your phone gallery. 
  • Swipe the menu at the bottom of the screen to chose between live video, normal or text. 

Once You've Created an Image or Video to Your Liking You Can: 

  • Add text and effects.
  • Save to your phone. 
  • Add to your story.
  • Send directly to a friend, post publicly or add to your story. 

Further Reading

Still not sure about using Stories? Read this blog post from our own Michelle Breen on how she uses Snapchat in the University of Limerick Library by employing a student to create and share content. 

Take a look at our Evernote notebook for the Communicating Visually section of the course for more articles on the apps mentioned in this blog post.

This blog post was written collaboratively by Michelle Breen, Siobhan McGuinness and Niamh O'Donovan.


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