Facebook released Facebook Stories to its parent app in March. The release was one of several updates launched by the social media giant in Q1 2017.
On the date of the release, Facebook Product Manager Connor Hayes credited rival channel Snapchat for tapping into how today’s user consumes content, and for “pioneering” the Stories feature.
Marketers should make Stories an integral part of their own plans for engaging with customers through content. Some of the best ideas for Facebook Stories involve promoting content with a more personal touch such as:
Behind the scenes photos or videos
How-to snippets showing your products in development
Exclusive, and short-lived, offers
Teasing larger pieces of content
Learning more about your Facebook audience
Let’s take a deeper look at some of these tips and best practices.
First of all: What is a Story?
A Story is a group of transient photos or videos that are compiled into a slideshow. Users access Stories by clicking the portrait of a friend that appears above the news feed on their mobile devices.
Stories are distinct from photo or video content that appears in your regular news feed. As is the case with Instagram and Snapchat, Stories content disappears from your Facebook feed after a 24 hour period and can only be viewed a maximum two times. Content you post or share directly on your news feed remains in your timeline until you manually delete it from your profile.
Stories and Direct: What’s the Difference?
Users access Direct at the top left-hand side of the news feed by tapping the paper airplane icon. Friends can share photos or videos in the Direct private messaging feature as opposed to posting content publicly in the main Stories feature.
Though there are similarities in how they function, Direct is a separate application from Facebook Messenger. Unlike Messenger, which allows users to start private conversations with text or visual content, Direct conversations exclusively use images or videos to begin a visual dialogue. Content shared in Direct, like with Stories, also disappears after 24 hours as opposed to Messenger, where content sustains until the conversation is erased.
How Can You Market Your Brand Using Facebook Stories?
1. Share the lifestyle behind your brand
There’s been a notable shift in how brands create content in recent years. Marketers are building unique brand identities through custom content containing more personalized tones and messages.
Sharing behind the scenes shots of your workplace, in the form of photos or videos, allows viewers to connect to your team and with your brand. Jeffrey Gitomer, Founder of Gitomer Learning Academy and industry-acknowledged “King of Sales,” describes behind the scenes content as a friendly way to invite viewers into your world.
Prove that your work environment is an open and inviting space that welcomes your employees, your business partners, and your customers in equal fashion. Try shooting moments of your day as a marketer - a day in the life, so to speak - to give viewers a better understanding of what marketing is really like in your company.
2. Show how your products are made
One of the goals of using Facebook is to expand your brand’s reach across a channel with nearly 2 billion active users. Posting creative content with a personal touch invites more people to check out your Facebook page and spend time browsing through all of your posts.
You can use Facebook Stories to feed this strategy with brief educational posts about your products. Take a few moments to film how your products are made. Show the development process and get viewers excited about the finished product.
Dunkin Donuts is a great example to emulate. They created a Facebook Live video dubbed “test kitchen” for the Valentine’s Day season, which is when tasty and enticing sweets are on the minds of any viewer.
They can easily break up the full video into brief micro-moments repurposed for Facebook Stories content. The seasonal timing of the video is also a good angle for Stories content. Short-lived posts that are made for a particular time of year are easily replaceable with similar content that gets people interested in your brand.
3. Promote exclusive offers
Sometimes you have a special promotion or offer that is limited to a very niche audience. You can run one of these exclusive events through Facebook Stories, and offer viewers a discount on one of your products or services for following the content through to the end of the story.
Let your Facebook audience know these options are available by making informative posts on your main wall. Drive people towards your Stories feed where they can learn more about your exclusive offer and how to redeem that reward.
Facebook already allows brands to create Offer Ads, which are custom discounts shared with Facebook audiences.
You can create and publish similar content on Facebook Stories, especially if that offer is available for a very limited window of time. Enter people who respond to your Story into a pool of customers eligible for that particular discount. This is a great way to provide viewers something of tangible value for sticking with your Stories content to the end.
4. Let people know about your other content
Let’s say you have a large video or collage of custom photos posted on your website that is a great visual representation of your brand. You want to get more viewers seeing those assets, and a brief tease of that content in Stories can remind your audience to search for that content.
When Facebook and Instagram made Instagram Stories publicly available, one of the features they included to distinguish the feature from Snapchat was the ability to include CTAs and links within the Story that direct viewers to pages on the website.
You can implement a similar strategy with Facebook Stories. Tease people with a scaled-down version of a larger piece of content in your Story, and include a CTA or path that directs the viewer to the full post. This is another channel or channel within a channel, you can use to promote your content.
5. Learn more about your Facebook audience
Anything you can do to collect raw data and new information about your existing audience is a win for your marketing team!
Facebook Stories services the largest social channel on the web and is therefore presumably home to the largest social audience for Fortune 1000 brands. Why not use Stories to collect new information about your audience and their interests using brief video formats?
This is a great idea if you have a new product or add-on in your development pipeline. You can post content to Stories asking for audience input on features to include in that new product or the most interesting way to roll that product out to market.
People are more likely to engage with your brand if they feel like they have a say in how things unfold. This is also a great way to demonstrate your openness and personalized approach to marketing, branding, and even product development. Show people that you want their input, you want their ideas so they’re compelled to follow your Story and respond in kind.
Creating custom content for Facebook should be part of your plan to connect to your audience and keep them engaged with your brand. Register for our webinar recording on “How to Create Content for Facebook with Impact” for tips and best practices about how to scale content creation and build strong connections with your audience.