You’ve likely heard a lot about Instagram Stories, but what exactly is the fuss about it? Are you interested in learning how to use these Stories as a digital marketing tool for your startup?
In this article, we will cover the main features of Instagram Stories and how some brands have been using the feature in their marketing strategies.
As a powerhouse in the social media game, we’ve observed the growth and transformation of Instagram over the past few years. Lately, Instagram has been making some major changes, some of which are more controversial than others. It started with a logo revamp in March, followed by fundamental algorithm changes such as a new non-chronological user feed in June and Instagram business tools in July.
On top of these significant developments, Instagram’s latest update has been a huge talking point for Instagram users and marketers.
Instagram versus Snapchat
On Aug. 2, Instagram unveiled the Stories feature and caused a stir worldwide. Riding on the back of Snapchat’s success, Instagram’s newest feature is extremely similar to Snapchat’s Story feature in many ways. With Instagram Stories, users can create a temporary slideshow of photos and videos. This slideshow appears at the top of user feeds and their profiles for 24 hours before disappearing.
Users can also add drawings, text, emojis or filters to their story content. Your audience will be notified that you have a story for them to view, and they can engage with each part of your story by sending a direct message. Users can also see who has specifically seen which parts of their story. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram users can also choose to hide their story from specific users.
While Instagram’s Stories feature is still a rudimentary form of Snapchat’s Story feature, there is no doubt that the developers at Instagram will catch up very soon. At the moment, Snapchat can hold on to the fact that Instagram is still lacking Snapchat’s extremely popular face-altering filters and geofilters. However, the main advantage that Instagram has over Snapchat is its number of users. As of June 21, Instagram officially hit 500 million users worldwide, 300 million of those who use the app daily. In comparison, Snapchat, the younger platform, has only 150 million daily active users.
Brands have been experimenting with both platforms, and so far, Instagram is looking much more favorable. For example, one of Nike’s Instagram Stories generated 800,000 views in 24 hours, while the brand’s most popular story on Snapchat only generated 66,000 views. Through its search and discovery features, Instagram makes it easier for brands to grow organic followings. Meanwhile, the private nature of Snapchat makes it difficult for users to discover, follow and browse through a brand’s content without a pre-established relationship.
“Instagram is a follower platform, where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform,” Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships at VaynerMedia, said.
Furthermore, brands have had more time to establish followers on the older platform and are therefore much more comfortable with Instagram’s format.
Brands using Instagram Stories
Previously, Instagram was a place for carefully curated posts with much thought going into the quality of content posted on one’s profile. The temporary nature of Instagram Stories is much more suited to quick, candid content for brands. Combining Instagram’s existing permanent gallery features with its new temporary one will allow for brands to establish a more intimate relationship with users.
For example, a brand that’s shooting a new line of products might post the final, polished photo to its Instagram gallery, while posting behind the scenes footage to its story. Kay Hsu, global lead for Instagram Creative Shop, said, “it’s fun to see business’ personalities shine through their stories — from behind the scenes to new product offers — in all industries from automotive to fashion.”
Fashion brand J.Crew used the temporary nature of Stories to promote a one-day pre-sale of its new sunglasses. The story showed various J.Crew staff modeling the sunglasses while also communicating the exclusive and limited-time conditions of the sale.
Even prestigious car brand Mercedes-Benz wasn’t afraid to experiment with Instagram Stories, documenting behind-the-scenes footage of a photo shoot of its new model. The content consisted of location photos and an exclusive look at the vehicle’s latest features.
Not sure where to start or what to do with the Instagram Stories feature when it comes to your brand? Don’t be afraid to ask your audience! Fast food chain Taco Bell premiered its first Instagram story this very way. The brand asked its fans to direct message with what they’d like to see on the brand’s story, from games, food or behind the scenes content. Taco Bell then adapted their Stories content based on their audience’s responses.
If your business is already on Instagram, now is the time to dive into this feature! Although the prospect of a less-manicured and informal way of presenting your brand may be daunting at first, you will feel more comfortable as you familiarize yourself with Instagram’s Stories. Remember, the content is only temporary, so have fun and don’t take it too seriously! Still don’t know where to start? Observe how your favorite brands or even your competitors are using Instagram Stories.