Facebook-owned Instagram launched Stories in August 2016 as a direct copy of an already popular Snapchat feature. Today, Instagram Stories has 300 million daily active users. As a result, Snapchat growth slowed 82 percent.)
But what, exactly, is a "Story?" And are there benefits for business use?
A Story is a piece of micro-content that disappears after 24 hours.
Stories can be photos/images, recorded videos, text with a colorful background, live video or 'boomerangs' (short, looping video content like an animated GIF).
Photos or videos can be uploaded from your camera roll, or you can record within the app. You can add effects, filters, stickers, text, interactive polls, animated GIFs and all manner of fun stuff to your Stories.
You can also add a clickable hashtag, @ mentions and locations to your Stories. This all helps with gaining extra visibility. Both hashtags and locations have Story feeds users can follow.
In 2017, Facebook also introduced the Story feature to both Messenger and the main Facebook app after Stories had already gained quite a foothold on Instagram.
“The way people share and connect is changing; it’s quickly becoming more real-time and visual.” ~Facebook [Source: TechCrunch]
Should you include Stories in your marketing mix?
The short answer is a resounding yes! For several reasons, to name a few:
- Micro-content is extremely easy to create.
- Both Instagram and Facebook position the Stories feature at the very top of their respective mobile apps. This provides tremendous visibility for your followers. Stories on Facebook are also very easy to create on desktop and are visible on desktop.
- People have very short attention spans these days and Stories are incredibly easy and fun to consume.
- For Instagram business accounts with over 10,000 followers and/or verified accounts, you can also add a URL to your Stories where your followers swipe up to go to your designated web page. (Now, with the launch of Instagram’s IGTV, you can choose to direct your followers to one of your IGTV videos or an external URL).
- Stories are growing 15X faster than feed sharing.
- Instagram boasts over 300 million daily active users and Facebook has over 150 million DAU’s.
“The Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” ~Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer
Regularly publishing Stories for your business is a great way of producing micro-content for top of mind and top of feed awareness.
5 Story ideas for your business
- Do live broadcasts. Live Stories get the most prominent positioning at the top with a red “LIVE” icon. You can also do a “Live with” where you invite a guest on and Instagram splits the screen in half. Both your followers and your guest’s followers will see the telltale Live icon at the top. Your Live Story could be a product sneak peek, behind-the-scenes, meet the staff, customer spotlight, Q&A session, special offer, exclusive discounts and more.
- Conduct polls. I’ve found interactive polls to be an excellent method for sparking increased engagement. Instagram makes it super easy to add a simple and fun voting button as a slider, or a simple two word or emoji choice. You can even share the poll results later as another Story.
- Highlight user generated content. If you gather user generated content across your social channels, you could share screenshots with the relevant user @tag and an appropriate hashtag. These could be simple shout outs, or testimonials and reviews. Instagram auto-suggests hashtags when you start to type. Be sure to first search and settle on the best hashtag for your Story, as this can really help others discover you.
- Announce new content. If you publish blog posts/articles, podcast episodes, vlogs (video blogs), and/or live streaming videos, be sure to use Stories to let your Instagram followers know. Always include the related URL in the Swipe Up feature, if you have it.
- Share exclusive deals. Entice your followers to keep coming back to consume your Stories by regularly sharing special offers, codes, or unexpected bonuses.
Embrace micro-engagement, too
Whether you choose to include Stories in your marketing mix or not, I highly recommend starting to at least view and engage with Stories. This is a great way to create what I call micro-engagement.
When you view Stories on Instagram, the person/business will see that you've seen their content in their Insights. Granted, not everyone necessarily views their Insights for each Story, but many do, including myself.
When possible, try sending a quick reply or even an emoji response to a Story. This goes to the account holder’s private inbox. (Depending on user settings, the ability to reply may not be available on all Stories).
Clearly, Stories are here to stay and businesses would do well to map out a powerful micro-content strategy.
About Mari Smith
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.
Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.
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