Why stories are the future of social media marketing
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
Social media Stories are mobile, vertical videos and images that appear outside of your regular feed and only last for 24 hours before they disappear. The maximum time of a short-form video in a single story is 15 seconds each.
Stories are temporary but can be organized into collections on some apps like Instagram for later viewing (stories highlights).
Each individual content on stories can also be referred to as a story frame.
If you have an Instagram business profile (Instagram page connected to your Facebook business page) you are also able to set ads for stories in your Facebook ads manager, and later view all the analytics and insights when it comes to their popularity, reach, engagement impressions and more.
Stories were launched in August 2016, and now more than 500 million Instagrammers use stories daily. Yes, it has only been 4 years, but it seems like we cannot remember the time before the stories were a solid part of our daily social media lives.
Together with stories, came various filters and stickers, which are the built features to each platform. They are extremely versatile and new ones keep popping up, matching almost every word search or occasion.
2020 big year for changes
Back in May 2020, Instagram was testing with a 2 line of stories for some users.
In June 2020, they tested full-page of stories with some users.
Both Linkedin and Twitter are also introducing stories into their platforms (currently testing with certain markets and users).
Youtube and WhatsApp also have stories. Have you actually used in yet?
People at Facebook and Instagram have been dropping hints for the last 2 years, that stories will be becoming a more vital part of their platforms, and the FEED (as we know it), might even disappear entirely.
As TikTok had proven to be the most popular app in 2020, Instagram and Youtube have also prepared a comeback with their own tools/features which mimic the functionality of TikTok.
Fort Instagram it's Reels - which is an extra short video creation functionality, added into the Instagram stories. It mimics TikTok's functionality to some extend. With TikTok being banned in India, Instagram has been quick to launch the app in this market, as we were able to read in their global news last week.
Why you should double down on stories as your content creation medium?
For a lot of us (whether you run a business page or a personal brand), the analytics from stories prove that we do get more engagement from stories content when compared to feed posts.
Numbers do not lie - more people are now watching stories. We are all guilty of it. We would automatically go into stories without event looking at a profile's feed. This phenomenon is evident both on Facebook and Instagram.
And so the platforms and its algorithms must prioritise what USERS want and where their attention is going.
Two-way communication model
In marketing, a one-way communication model functioned for a very long time.
A business would buy advertising (radio, TV commercial, a print ad in a magazine) and it would get circulated. The audience were receiving that communication MOST OF TIMES unable to respond. In other words, they would get "shouted at".
Social media gave brands and businesses as well as customers, a two-way communication model. Brands needed to learn to talk and to listen. In other words, to interact with users.
Stories allow you to master that two-way communication with your audience
The audience can interact with you. They can submit questions, responses, make a suggestion or vote on their favourite options.
Good marketers use the opportunity that stories functionality presents, to a full degree.
But for many smaller business owners, who run their own social media accounts and who have got used to the feed, a transition into an exciting STORIES strategy, can be daunting.
Why you should use stories regularly?
I see these mistakes being made time and time again. Smaller agency or business owners (and personal brands) create stories that are random, often not producing enough frames or too many frames.
Pre-designed and boring looking stories are also quite common.
And finally one of the largest mistakes (on many platforms), is not using the builtin edit features which are native to the platform and its users. You shoudl strive to create some sort of familiarity that a user of let's say Instagram, is used to, seeing. ( The features which users expect to see when watching stories on Instagram.)
Often times business and companies would pre-design storiers, while not incorporating any "edit" features provided to us by the platform. While the most successful brands and influencers rely heavily on the built-in edit features of such platform. All you have to do is follow a few of them and see what they are doing with their stories.
STORIES NEED A PROPER STRATEGY TOO
It is absolutely crucial not to think of stories an "add on" to your feed.
"I throw something in there, anything that comes to my mind because it will disappear in 24 hours anyway" - how many times have we heard people say this? TOO MANY!
While stories need to be spontaneous and can reflect =everyday life, activities or background work, they need to be coherent, planned and taken seriously.
YOU ARE COMPETING WITH OTHERS FOR ATTENTION!
Your stories should STAND OUT from the crowd. To do that you need to really get into the minds of your core audience and understand what will they ENJOY seeing. It can be a strategy based on motivating your users, entertaining them, shocking them or educating them. But it needs to be a strategy on providing value, solving their problems and helping them to achieve something: it could be a better look, better makeup, better health, become better parents, better business people, better marketers, better pilots, better magicians, better friends - whatever your niche is.
Many interesting things can happen during your day, but only some of these "moments" will be of interest to your particular group of people. And this is also another KEY in designing your stories strategy: pick a group of people. Build CULTURE- build a community around you.
The most important aspect is first to build that culture and community- only then you can impact on people's decisions and make a change happen.
Also, bear in mind that Generation Z users/audience will often tell you "We can small an add a mile away". That's because they have grown up in an online era and do not know the world pre-internet, pre-social media. Therefore, they are digitally savvy and are the ones who carve authenticity from your content, and want to be engaged in a natural way without any spam or pushovers. Here, the CULTURE concept is taken to a whole new level.
WHAT TO DO?
If you are just starting, ask representatives of your audience group and demographics (so-called personas) WHAT CONTENT would they enjoy seeing and what content do they currently follow.
If you have followers already, create a story with a question box and ask them :)
COMPETE FOR ATTENTION
It does not mean pre-designed, expensive designs or overly photoshopped. But it means the quality of the image/ video especially when it comes to the clarity and pixels as well as good sound (if the sound is on). Good lighting is also appreciated, as well as the creative concept, the use of colours, objects etc. As there is A LOT of online content out there competing for attention, you truly need to STAND OUT with yours. To do that you need to experiment a lot, talk to people and measure your results. Having a NICHE also helps.
FENTY BEAUTY STORIES CASE STUDY
One of the best brands which have been using STORIES functionality to the fullest and can be regarded as a great example: is FENTY BEAUTY.
Fenty Beauty is a makeup company founded by Rhianna.
They have an incredibly colourful social media content campaign with a lot of content based around motivation, inspiration as well as wellbeing (not only makeup).
Here we can see they have hight quality product pictures but they are still adding the text, from the Instagram app. This allows users to feel more familiar with your content and less "pre-designed" as we would expect from an add. The text is engaging and entertaining.
The use of stickers is also important for that "down to earth" feel. Fenty Beauty uses a lot of built-in stickers which are available on Instagram.
They also feature a lot of PEOPLE in their stories. Not just products.
Some are other influencers, celebrities, makeup artists but we have also spotted a yoga teacher and Fenty Beauty own staff. Rhianna herself, also often takes part in these videos.
You can be sure they also feature a lot of diverse voices and looks. They definitely have a mission fo promoting diversity and equality, amplifying black voices and minorities.
You can see their profile and content does not only focus on makeup but also use their influence to create awareness and POSITIVE CHANGE IN THE WORLD.
For example, they have marketed heavily around Juneteenth* creating a global awareness for those who did not know what this special day was.
(*Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States)
The future of stories
No matter what your opinion is about stories, whether or not you believe they will take over the social media feed one is for certain. In almost every single report or blog about the TRENDS of social media, more intensified use of stories is highlighted as one of the biggest trends going forward. It is time to start experimenting and creating stories which are unique, attention-grabbing and highly engaging.