Stories format

What’s the deal with Stories?

The Stories format is currently dominating social media. Remember just a year ago when you would only have seen it on Snapchat? Now, if you use social at all, you can’t escape it.

Instagram copied Snapchat. Facebook copied Instagram copying Snapchat. (The Stories format is also dominant on the Messenger and WhatsApp apps.) Beyond the big players of Facebook and Snapchat, Stories-like products currently include Apple Clips, Medium Series, and Twitter Moments. Now we’re run down with wayyy too many options, left wondering which of the Stories we should worry about managing. How did we get to this point and how do we navigate the new(ish) social media landscape?

Evolution of Stories

In 2011, Snapchat launched as a peer-to-peer communication platform made up of disappearing messages. Nothing was saved, no videos or photos stored. Ephemeral content seemed like the next big thing in the digital marketing world. Snap Inc. introduced Stories to Snapchat in October 2013.

After Mark Zuckerberg’s offer to buy Snapchat in August, 2016 was turned down, the Facebook-owned Instagram launched their own version of Stories. It was nearly identical to Snapchat’s. In November of last year, Instagram added the capability for live broadcasting and by April, 2017, Instagram had surpassed Snapchat in their number of daily active Instagram Stories users. (Instagram now has 200 million daily active users on Stories and more than 700 million monthly active users.)

In March 2017, Facebook launched a native story function. I’m sure the hope was to imitate Instagram Stories’ success but Facebook’s version hasn’t become nearly as popular as its counterparts – Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

The constant updates and changes and new tech make keeping up seem like a daunting, nay, impossible task. So what are Stories, why are they appearing on all our favorite platforms, and what do we do with them?

Stories format

Image Source: eConsultancy

What a “story” is

Stories (on all platforms) allows users to upload an infinite number of photos or videos visible to all of the user’s followers for 24 hours after the photo (or video) is posted. A story post can be decorated with filters, text, drawings, and stickers (these vary per platform).

Snapchat Stories was a new way to broadcast with video clips and still images to share a narrative. Since then, it has been a race to see which social platform can engage audiences the most with the Stories format.

Why Stories are important for your brand

Stories are changing the way individuals talk to each other. Not only that, the way brands are talking to individuals is changing. Marketers are rethinking their entire strategies in attempts to discover what it takes to produced real-time storytelling. Particularly for those whose digital marketing strategy is centered around social media marketing, the Stories format needs to be used.

Stories are great for sharing daily updates in real-time. It’s an easy option to add a human touch to your business and begin building your brand personality. Stories are also a creative form of brand transparency. They enable you to share your brand visually, and creatively, while connecting with your audience and providing them with an insider view that they’ll greatly appreciate and engage with.

How you should use the Stories format

As with any social media channel, it’s crucial to approach posting to any Stories with a strategy. There’s no need to use all the platforms with this feature; pick the one(s) most relevant to your audience. My two cents: It doesn’t seem like anyone is really using Facebook Stories. (Read this article to learn more: Facebook Stories is a total failure.) That doesn’t mean it’s not the right platform for you but please take into consideration the fact that Facebook’s Stories isn’t seeing nearly the growth that Instagram Stories has. Also consider that Google Trends shows Instagram Stories has been two times more popular than Snapchat Stories.

The main things to consider are:

  1. Which platform is best for your brand? Who is you audience and what’s your overall message?
  2. What’s your style of content? Post story content that compliments your existing social media content. Don’t confuse your audience by adding content that doesn’t mesh with you regular posts.

Don’t forget to think about ads too. You might not feel the need to buy ad space but some business’s find it an effective method of reaching their target audience. Check out Instagram’s online ad platform or Snapchat’s ad services.

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While Snapchat invented Stories, the future of social media seems like it’s going to look like a slideshow so you better get used to seeing them everywhere. You may not embrace Stories but you certainly must acknowledge them and recognize the way they are transforming communication.

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