Day 7: IG stories and the FOMO generation

4 min readFeb 12, 2021

To recap: my target is to monetise my cats in a small way via Instagram within 365 days by strategic trial and error.

As I explained in my Day 1 entry, I am a social media dunce. The most advanced thing I could do on IG before this was post multiple photos on the same post. For an old soul like me, that was straight up high tech. I’ve always viewed other people’s Stories but have never actually tried to do one myself.

Why? Because frankly I’m terrible at videos. All my videos end up looking like footage from Blair Witch Project or a vest cam attached to a hyperactive child.

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

Yet when I looked at most of the accounts I followed, they all upload Stories, which are 5–8 sec snippets which disappear after 24 hours unless you save them. In line with the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) culture of social media, I decided I needed to get in on this action. So I fumbled around the app figuring out how to do it.

Like most things on IG, it was disgustingly intuitive once you knew what you were looking for. I recorded Benny playing with his favourite toy and posted it as a Story. From there, I noticed two things:

  1. Benny is incredibly video-worthy
  2. IG Stories is disgustingly intuitive to use

I’m noticing a pattern here. The people working in Instagram has got user interface down to an art, honestly. I sat there for a few minutes feeling pretty impressed.

Another thing I noticed was that people pinned highlight videos on their profile so you could easily identify which cat was which, and see them in action as a taster before you scroll down to look at the posts. Again, something obviously made for the classic tl;dr user. Except I couldn’t find an add button on the empty space in my profile.

So I texted my Gen Z niece, for whom this type of medium was made for.

In that moment I understood how my dad felt every time he asked how to do some tech stuff. Thanks to my niece and some trial and error, I pinned a few videos from the Stories I recorded and proceeded to feel good about myself.

Now, you may ask, what is the point of stories?

Alright, how IG works is you post something and then it appears at two places: the public explore feed or another IG user’s feed if they follow you. But then, other people are posting too, so your content will get pushed further and further down both feeds, making your post more difficult to find. Unless you put something up every hour, which means you will have to give up quality for quantity.

Enter Stories. They appear at the top of your home page when you fire up the app and regularly refreshes to show new content from the people you follow. The good thing about Stories is that they don’t need to be as polished as your main posts because they disappear after 24 hours anyway.

So yes, that means my Blair Witch Project efforts are fair game, folks. Technically you could post every hour just by recording an inane video, slap some filters, emojis and/or animated Giphys on it, and you’re good to go.

What that means is, with Stories, you will be more likely to appear at the top of someone’s feed at any given time, giving you the necessary attention to get engagement levels up. And people will forgive the shaky cam effect, because it’s only for a 5–8 second video clip anyway. Otherwise it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Again, I cannot help but wonder how influencers stay on top of this game. At least my cats are cute. If I had to take constant videos of myself and what I do everyday, I’d get pretty tired of it really quick. As it was, though, my cats were cute enough to be sustainably Stories-generative from the get-go, so I think I’m doing good.

So how has my progress been following this week’s execution plan, you ask?

79 followers! Averaging 21–22 likes per photo now, which is an almost 30% engagement rate. That’s not too shabby. I wonder what level if engagement rate would be needed to make advertisers sit up and take notice? I need to study this further.

One thing that surprised me was that I expected people to be more into Nala’s pictures because of the conventional cuteness she offered. But over the days as I racked up followers, it looked to be pretty even between the two, because I made sure Benny’s captions were funny.

So what does that mean?

Do people in general prefer funny content? Or is it a form of selection bias that the new followers I’ve added are just the type of people who appreciate funny content more, hence why they followed in the first place?

Food for thought. Must study further.