Instagram Stories; initially dismissed by marketers as “basically just Snapchat”, now an undeniably useful feature with potential to boost and expand an Instagram strategy with even more visual content, and the opportunity to humanise and create transparency for a brand.
Stories are yet another an example of a social network developing a competing feature that responds to the demands of the average user and enables healthy growth among key audience demographics. As an inherently raw and personalised feature it offers users authentic glances into the day-to-day lives of their friends, people they admire and, most importantly, the brands they engage with.
The what and why of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are an incredibly simple concept. They basically allow users to produce an ephemeral stream of videos and photos intended to purvey a unique “story” for their day. Unlike general Instagram content were the intention is often to create a feed of well-polished, beautiful images, Instagram stories is about removing the vintage-speckled facade and offering an authentic snapshot of their world.
Because Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours they give businesses the opportunity to produce an almost constant stream of visual content that doesn’t overwhelm their audience. It’s worth noting, however, that in our experience an extremely over-indulgent Stories feed can be something of a turnoff for an engaged user; while it is unlikely to cause them to completely give up on your brand, it will probably result in that particular story being disregarded.
Regardless of whether you disagree with the innate similarities between it and Snapchat Stories, either through unease at the originality of the concept, or just a general dislike towards the latter, Instagram Stories can and should be used as part of a business’s Instagram Strategy. They enable complete transparency and humanisation of a brand – which in the pristinely groomed world of marketing messages isn’t a possibility to be sniffed at.
Interaction enables Instagram Stories to do more
Unlike Snapchat will still currently displays user’s content in a recently-updated style, Instagram Stories are served-up based on how much a user interacts with a particular account. This means that the success of Instagram Stories will, surprise surprise, directly relate to how engaged your community is.
It’s obvious that at the heart of any social media marketing strategy needs to be the organic development of a committed audience; this needs to be at the forefront of your mind when Stories are employed as part of your Instagram strategy. If you produce content that encourages engagement you increase the likelihood of your Stories being viewed. Stories then help fuel the former – which builds the latter. You are effectively creating a strategy that naturally boosts itself.
Instagram Stories offer insight into interaction and engaged followers
Instagram Stories can offer particularly useful insights into who among your audience is most engaged, and what sort of content they find most interesting. When viewing your own story you can see exactly who has watched each particular snapshot. This gives can offer an enhanced sense of direction for your strategy over a shorter relative period of time to other aspects of your Instagram Strategy.
Big implications for trans-media and user-integrated marketing
Instagram Stories have huge implications for multi-platform marketing strategy, particularly those that utilise a real-world event. Because it is made to be completely authentic and raw it can be used to present behind-the-scenes content, adding depth and another layer of personalisation to your brand marketing. Where real-world events and exterior campaigns are concerned there is potential to foster brand advocacy by utilising exclusive competitions and contests for those who view your stories and then promoting that in person/on other channels.
In our own experience Instagram Stories offers great potential and is still in the majority underused by brands. Take this opportunity to start using it and develop a new personal, human layer to your Instagram strategy.