The first social network to use stories as we know them today was Snapchat. In fact, this was the core feature of that app and the one that set it apart. Snapchat was a surprise hit, despite being built on some slightly shaky code, and so it wasn’t long before the other major players had jumped on board. YouTube introduced reels, and Facebook brought us Stories (also available on Instagram). Twitter gave us Twitter Moments, and Skype created Skype Highlights. The idea behind a story is unique and quite unlike other forms of content found on social media and social media marketing. A story is a post that is usually delivered through a different feed than the rest of a user’s content, and that is only available for a short period of time. After this, the story will disappear and no longer be available.
Stories can take a number of different formats. Often, they will be videos, but they can also be still images. Also, a common trope for stories on multiple platforms, is to allow the use of stickers and text. These are usually placed on top of the main media, giving them pride of position and leading to very impressive engagement and open-rates.
Why More and More Companies Are Using Stories
There are a number of compelling reasons that many brands are starting to rely more and more on the use of Stories. One is that the organic reach of business accounts on a number of social platforms is decreasing – and this is something we’ll encounter a few times in this book. Another is that stories provide a great ROI in terms of the time and effort they require and the benefits they offer.
The great thing about Stories is that they are temporary – normally lasting just 24 hours. That means that they don’t leave a lasting impression on your page, feed, or account. That gives them a much more personal and off-the-hip feel that customers and fans really dig, but it also means they can afford to be a little less polished and tailored. That means you don’t need to shoot a product using studio lighting and a DSLR camera: you can just snap it on your phone and send it off. For businesses, this can be seen as a revelation.
Finally, Stories are also extremely popular with customers and users right now. While it’s better to stay away from such terms in marketing, stories are undeniably “trendy.” In fact, Facebook introduced Stories to its platform for that very reason. At the time, the site was seeing fewer and fewer members of the younger generation sign up, as the demographic began to skew upwards in age. Meanwhile, Snapchat was enjoying a lot of success for a new option – and particularly among the younger contingent of users. Snapchat provided a way for kids to share messages that couldn’t be held for posterity, and in a very immediate and fun manner. Facebook had to adapt or risk becoming obsolete. And as marketers, we need to do the same!
Benefits of Storytelling and How to use them to Maximum Effects
While simply posting Stories as you go about your day is a great way to help bring your followers along for a ride and show off what you’re all about, this is also only part of what makes Stories so effective for increasing engagement. Because the real value of Stories is in the way that they can facilitate communication.
When you open up to your followers in this natural and organic way, in a format that feels very instant and current, you invade people to respond. And THIS is where you can potentially make a massive difference in the way that your followers see you. For example, let’s say that you have a store selling hair products. You can post beautiful pictures of women’s hair, or well-lit bottles to your main feed all you like, but if you post a short video of yourself talking naturally to the camera about how you tried the latest product that just came in and your hair feels AMAZING, then that is infinitely more engaging.
And notice that in this example, you never actually said what the product was. You just said something new that came into your store. This is the critical aspect, because it means that you have invited a conversation. That in turn means that you can sell directly to those leads.
Now of course, directly messaging every single person in order to sell a bottle of shampoo might not be the most time efficient method of doing business. But if you imagine that this is a big-ticket item – perhaps tickets to see a seminar
you run for $1,000 – then suddenly it’s a lot more viable.
Moreover, you can also do this with products that you aren’t selling! Giving people tips throughout the day and doing so via message, is a brilliant way to really establish some rapport with those people. It lets them feel as though they’ve just got a great “insider tip” from a mate, and that’s going to drastically increase their chances of checking out your next post, or of buying your product even.
Announcements and Sales
Another great way to make use of Instagram or Facebook Stories is for announcements. Stories are displayed extremely prominently on most social media platforms, meaning that they’re often one of the first things that users encounter when they land on the sites.