Are ‘stories’ the future of social media?

Today social media users want content delivered to them instantly, in an enticing, interactive and easy-to-digest manner. It is becoming increasingly important for brands to consider this when speaking to their customers online, building tools such as social media ‘stories’ into the brand comms strategy. 

Generic content marketing channels, such as your website, blog and social media feeds are all still crucial when it comes to developing a content strategy – having a variety of channels driving quality traffic and engagement on your site is hugely important. However, with the rise of ‘social stories’ brands must adapt and think of new ways to translate this content into a new format/medium. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity to reach customers with quick-fire updates. ‘Stories’ is an ever evolving format and is becoming a fundamental part of social media activity – when building your brand story it is important to consider how you can utilise this format to communicate with your audience on a daily basis. 

What are social ‘stories’?

Snapchat launched ‘stories’ in October 2013. In 2017, Instagram decided to seize the concept, followed by WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Skype and YouTube. ‘Stories’ is a feature allowing users to post photos or short video which usually expires after 24 hours. Social media platforms are increasingly moving away from traditional text-based content, originally designed for desktop devices (remember the early days of Facebook), towards 100% mobile networks, allowing users to capture real-world experiences. ‘Stories’ embody this turning point.

They are extremely visual and are intended to be created and consumed immediately. As they are ephemeral (they usually disappear within 24h), they are fun, experimental and more authentic. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and owner of Instagram, also sees great potential in ‘stories’ and he’s planning to invest massively in them with the goal to develop and grow this feature on Facebook: “We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in Feed as the most common way that people share across all social apps.”

Why are they becoming increasingly relevant?

With more than a billion people using ‘stories’ on all social media networks every day, including four out of five major brands, it’s definitely a feature that you can’t disregard anymore. Brands use this feature to unveil their secrets, to gain more visibility and boost loyalty amongst their followers. They are also often used by companies to offer a sneak peek behind-the-scenes, an insight into the company culture, or even sharing the likes of tutorials, interviews and events.

‘Stories’ are so popular among businesses as it provides another channel to engage your community and also gain more visibility. In fact, Instagram stories can be seen by the entirety of the Instagram community.

The ephemeral nature of ‘stories’ will produce the FOMO effect (Fear of Missing Out), people will tend to be curious and more inclined to discover ‘stories’ from people or companies they don’t necessarily know about. This is an excellent way to obtain new followers and reach a new audience.

How to use them?

Even though Snapchat was their creator, Instagram has fast become the most influential social network in terms of ‘stories’, with more than 500 million individuals using this feature every day. Read below for our top tips and tricks to make Instagram ‘stories’ work efficiently for your brand.

Be memorable and unique:

If you are imaginative, the possibilities are endless: you could, among other things, create tutorials showing how to use your products, share videos of your head office team showcasing your company culture, or even turn to your audience for insight – use the poll feature, or even request your followers to ask you a question! With stories, there are many ways to engage your followers and start a conversation. 

This type of content always increases the engagement rate and allows businesses to create a more authentic relationship with their followers. ‘Story’ creation does not require too much effort, nobody is expecting you to spend half an hour to plan a post that won’t exist for more than 24 hours. When normal Instagram posts require a good lighting, angle, well-chosen hashtag, a good ‘story’ only calls for a good idea, good timing and maybe a touch of creativity.

Use tools to add a touch of flair to your content:

On Instagram, creating and customising ‘stories’ is a piece of cake, as the social network offers a great number of tools allowing you to customise and enrich your story content. Moving image effects such as boomerang, superzoom, rewind, filters and elements such as GIFs and stickers allow you to add interest and get creative with your use of imagery. Other interactive elements such as ‘polls’, ‘countdowns’, ‘questions’ and ‘quizzes’ help you enhance your content and encourage users to be actively involved. Make the most of these features to attract attention and engage your audience. Consider using these tools to direct your followers to take action – include a call to action or to a link to your website (link in bio). In fact, if you have more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, you can use the option “Swipe up” to include a link in your Instagram story, driving traffic to your website – if not, try using a GIF directing users to visit the link in your bio! 

Use highlights:

Sometimes you’ll be disappointed to see all your efforts and creativity disappear in a mere 24 hours and that’s why Instagram introduced ‘Story Highlights’. With this function, you can feature selected ‘stories’ on your profile – this allows users who visit your profile to look back at your saved Instagram stories. This is ideal for special discounts, marketing campaigns, content categorisation, or maximising the visibility of longer brand videos. Consider creating a cover picture for each of your highlights to match your brand look and feel, reflecting the highlighted name.

Interact with your followers:

Creating visually interesting content is not enough to keep your followers interested today – people now also appreciate being able to take part and engage with the content they consume. For example, when appropriate tag your customers in your ‘story’, giving them the opportunity to interact with your brand – tagging you in return, commenting or sending you a direct message. It’s also a good idea to repost your followers’ content. When they add something interesting (for example if they show one of your products in their story or feed), you could add it in your own story, tagging them to show how thankful you are. Finally, you can use original hashtags on your ‘stories’ to be identified by your community, as well as localisation tags, this way people close to the places you are tagging will be more likely to see your ‘stories’ and discover your brand.

If you would like to speak to one of our social media experts to ask questions or seek advice about how to use stories for your brand, then please contact us on 01603 252555 or fill in the contact form.  

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