Almost two years ago, we wrote a post about the differences between Snapchat and Instagram Stories. It’s weird to look back on that because Stories were still a pretty new feature and also because Instagram straight up stole the idea from Snapchat.

But that hasn’t stopped Instagram Stories from becoming twice as popular as Snapchat StoriesI’d wager to guess that you view, if not use, Instagram Stories fairly regularly. It’s as ingrained in our social media culture as anything else at this point.

And because they’re the first things users see on one of the most popular social networking sites, if you’re not using it, it’s time to catch up to one of the most popular features to ever grace a social platform. As we discussed two years ago, Instagram was uniquely positioned to capitalize off of Stories in a way that Snapchat wasn’t because brands were already so ubiquitous on the channel. Today, numerous brands use the feature to reach and engage with their followers in new and exciting ways. And your credit union shouldn’t be acting any differently, especially with the inherent personal connection that comes with following and using a credit union.

So if you’re not utilizing this feature, here are some ways you should be.

Get Creative 

It’s been a couple years of Instagram Stories being in our lives and one of the best things about it is that there still aren’t hard and fast rules for how to use it and people are still finding fun things to do with the format.

Think of each vertical screen as your blank canvas to do anything with. Want to do something that’s simply text based to get the word out about an event to your members? Throw up a background color, choose one of the fonts, add an emoji and put it out there. No, that is not the height of creative thinking – but it’s more fun than writing a Facebook post.

Use polls, GIFs, questions, be funny or be sincere. Facebook and Twitter still ultimately rely on text to make an impact, but this is a visual medium. Don’t be afraid to play with it using all the tools Instagram puts at your disposal.

Improvise 

Look, we think keeping a social calendar is a great idea for all social channels. You should plan what you’re going to do, follow that plan and generally only go off book when something unexpected comes up.

But Instagram Stories is a different…story.

We discuss all the time how to make connections with members beyond financial interactions, how to make the credit union a more personal experience. Stories is a way to take people behind the scenes of the branch or to a credit union event in a completely organic way. Let your social media manager find fun things to share in a branch or in your office every once in a while so everything doesn’t come across as so planned and impersonal.

The other benefit is, Stories come down after 24 hours. That’s not an excuse to do anything but it does mean that your goofy office Boomerang doesn’t have to be something you leave on your profile forever.

Be Consistent 

Not to undercut everything we just said about freedom and improvisation, but you do need to remember, like with all social channels, to maintain some kind of voice and tonal consistency.

Yeah, Instagram Stories is fun, flexible and simple to use, but letting yourself do just anything with it is a good way to guarantee that, over time, your Stories won’t stand out.

You want people to look forward to your Stories when they see that there’s a new one. Or to even know who they belong to without even having to look up to see the profile name while they’re clicking through. The way you reach this goal is by deciding what kind of voice you’re going to have and what you want your Stories to look and feel like ahead of time.

This will actually strengthen your ability to do the first two things we talked about while also making sure you’re giving your followers something to remember you by.

We could continue to rattle off advice for you to use this feature, but more than any other social tool, this one really becomes more fun when you learn by doing. So whatever your next message is that you have planned for sending out to your members via social, think about how you can do it with Stories and then give it a shot.

And if you don’t like it, don’t worry. It’ll be gone by tomorrow.