A few years ago when Instagram Stories first rolled out, I didn’t think much of them. Why would people be interested in fleeting, disappears-after-24-hours content? And why would brands want to create them, when they would only have such a short lifespan?
Clearly, I was wrong. Stories have become one of the most popular features on social media, and have now branched out from Instagram (who copied the idea from Snapchat) to Facebook, and now even to YouTube.
It’s undeniable that Stories are changing the face of social media, and when used well, they can make a significant impact on a brand. Let’s take a look at how and what that means for marketers.
Social media Stories are mobile, full-screen, vertical videos and images that appear outside of your regular feed and only last for 24 hours before they disappear. They’re temporary, with a small caveat: they can be organized into collections on some apps like Instagram for later viewing.
Despite the fact that Stories may be saved, the temporary nature of the content creates a sense of scarcity that makes viewers want to stay in the loop. They don’t want to miss anything their favorite brands have to say, so if you have loyal followers who love your content, Stories allow you to give them more of that in a format that encourages them to view and engage before it vanishes–possibly for good.
Stories are immersive not only because they’re full-screen, but because they’re shared in the moment with your audience. By using Stories–especially impromptu videos and images–you’re giving your followers a glimpse into what’s happening in your life right now. They’re getting a look at a moment in your day, and they feel like they’re a part of it because you’ve invited them in.
Stories are mobile-first features that are both optimized for mobile and created via mobile devices. A recent report by Statista revealed that users access social media apps via mobile far more often than any other device. The percentage of users who access apps with Stories features include:
Stories are shaping up to be a fantastic source of increased visibility for brands. Out of over 1 billion active monthly Instagram users, more than 500 million use Stories daily.
Nineteen percent of brands’ Instagram impressions come from Stories according to SocialBakers, a number that will likely rise as Stories’ popularity grows. And according to recent stats in VidMob’s State of Social Video report, more than 70% of Instagram users view Stories on a daily basis.
Stories are incredibly popular, in part, because they’re so immersive and interactive. You can create images and live broadcasts that give viewers a glimpse into your day, and you can add a little flair using app-specific lenses, animations, stickers, and even music.
Instagram has additional interactive features like lists, poll questions, surveys, and even a prompt that allows other users to ask you questions of their own. This provides you with a wide array of possible ways to keep your audience engaged.
All in all, Stories add an additional layer of transparency and authenticity to the online brand experience–attributes that millennial and gen Z users are demanding from brands and influencers these days. It’s much more difficult to stage the perfect-looking Story, and that fact encourages a casual approach that shows your audience more of who you really are.
The short, fast nature of Stories is changing the way we consume social media and altering the landscape of social video consumption. Viewers watch Stories in mass quantities, so it’s completely fine to include a high volume of Story content. In fact, the key to Stories success lies in sharing regularly and often, so don’t be afraid to create a ton of content.
The immediate and temporary nature of Stories attracts users to view, engage, and be a part of a moment in time that won’t stick around forever. Because viewers don’t want to miss a thing from their favorite brands and influencers, they’re more likely to watch for Stories content and engage when they see it.
To integrate Stories into your social media marketing strategy, be prepared to create a lot more content than you’re currently using.
Adapt your Stories strategy for individualized, scalable content that’s relevant and engaging now, since Stories are time-sensitive and in-the-moment. If your Stories content is scalable, you can repurpose it into regular posts on Instagram and other social media platforms. This will help you save time and money in the long run.
In terms of metrics, Stories perform best when you’re uploading a few at once. Create a mass amount of vertical video or photo content in advance, then post them strategically over a period of time–whether you choose to create a week’s worth of content or more.
Your Stories don’t necessarily have to be perfectly edited. You can produce a high amount of Stories content at a low cost, but pay particular attention to quality. Keep in mind that 60% of Stories are viewed with the sound on, so if you don’t have audio in the content itself, you can always add music through Instagram’s robust Stories tool.
Social media Stories are here to stay, much to the surprise of the 2017 version of me. They’re actively becoming more and more important in usage for both businesses and users alike, so you need to adapt now and start incorporating fresh, scalable video into your strategy ASAP. If you don’t, you’ll be left behind.