Stories are quickly becoming the preferred channels for social marketers to engage with their audiences.
The Stories format was first pioneered by Snapchat, instituting a rise in shareable visual and video content. Instagram released its own version of Stories in the summer of 2016, and the feature was subsequently released by Facebook in early 2017.
Take a look at the steep increase of photo content shared daily on social media since Snapchat first launched Stories in 2013.
Create content to promote on Stories
Stories allow brands to increase the frequency that they connect with audiences. People interact with Stories based on how the content grabs their attention. Mobile behavior makes it easy for people to decide how long they choose to engage with Stories content. This means you as a marketer need creatives that grab attention, but also allow viewers to recognize your brand as the promoter of that content.
As you increase the frequency that you promote your content, you also need a consistent style embedded within each of your Stories. The best way to do this is through a platform that allows you to create content at scale based on how frequently and on what channels you need to engage with your audience.
Your content belongs on the apps where your target audience spends most of their time. Analyze your existing data to determine where people spend their time, and how best to engage with them there.
Metrics like unique views, completion rates, click-through rates, and time viewers subsequently spend on your website are all indicative of whether your content has the impact you anticipate on those channels. Ensure you customize your content for each channel so that you directly appeal to the people who will see it there.
But what if you have an engaged audience from all three Stories channels? How do you best utilize your content for each Stories audience?
Let’s take a look at that.
Create Stories for Your Facebook Audience
There’s one key difference between how people scroll through Stories on Facebook compared to Instagram or Snapchat. Users swipe up or down to view content and use various tools within Facebook Stories. Swiping is horizontal on both Instagram and Snapchat.
Though this is admittedly a very small difference, it could have a big effect on the types of content you create for Facebook Stories. You’ll want to keep track of who views your Stories to determine if the content is optimal for vertical scrolling.
Strive for the share
Think about what your Facebook followers are willing to share with their own friends. Facebook is the world’s largest social network and typically the channel where users have the largest amount of followers. When we share on Facebook, we indirectly stamp our own seal of approval on the content, which is then seen by our vast networks of followers.
Brian Carter, a best-selling author with 18 years of digital and social marketing experience, says marketers must create content that inspires their followers to be comfortable with those shares.
Facebook has also placed greater emphasis on content that earns reactions over basic likes. You’ll want to embrace your creativity to earn stronger emotional responses from viewers as you build your Stories. Remember that people react strongly to content that's unique and unexpected. Factor those audience requirements into your creative process as you think about how to create content at scale.
The camera tells the story
Any time that you can present your brand moments through video is a great way to engage with people.
Facebook’s made it easier than ever for you to create content using the built-in camera application. Tap the camera icon in the top left corner of your Facebook news feed to access the camera, and start customizing your content. You can add visual effects like masks or frames around animated objects or members of your team, and also stylize the moments with reactive effects like bright lights, snowfall, glitter, and other designs.
Some of the camera moments you can turn into Stories include:
Behind the scenes content
How-to or product instruction videos
Descriptions of related content available in your Stories feed
Q&A style videos where you ask for more details about your viewers
Once you determine what types of content resonate best with your audience, you can feed those requirements to your creative network. This will ensure everything is consistently on-brand and at the highest quality to drive greater engagement and return from your content creation efforts.
Create Stories for Your Instagram Audience
Unlike Facebook, where usage is more or less distributed evenly in terms of age brackets, the most common Instagram users are unquestionably skewed to the younger side.
Make your Stories as visible as possible
Young Instagram users love bright visuals and creative videos. Telling a sequential brand story using Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to reach as many passionate users as you can.
For example, Nike unveiled a new football jersey in the summer of 2016 by creating an Instagram Story for the experience. Nike used their Michael Jordan branded Instagram account to promote the content.
The content generated over 800,000 views in the first 24 hours, which was one of Nike’s top performing pieces of Instagram content. In comparison, the brand’s top performing post on Snapchat generated 66,000 views.
Take advantage of Instagram’s integration with Facebook
One of the reasons that Instagram’s visibility is significantly greater than Snapchat’s is due to their connection with Facebook. The relationship between Facebook and Instagram has become increasingly integrated since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012.
There are 700 million monthly active Instagram users, and over 200 million active users of Instagram Stories. Coupled with the 1.86 billion active users on Facebook and there’s no question that creating content for Instagram Stories will expand your reach and visibility far beyond what you can achieve with Snapchat.
Select the right use case for your stories
Every piece of content you publish to Instagram Stories should do something to reinforce your brand or visual identity. Ensure that the assets you share, photos or videos, are of the highest quality and aligned to what accurately represents your brand. You can then implement solutions to scale productivity and assemble the amount of content you'll need to make the greatest impact on your audience.
How you use Instagram Stories should support the specific needs of your own brand. But there are a number of brands that excel at Instagram marketing whose examples you can emulate.
Capture attention early
Remember that the most common users of Instagram respond to bright bold content. Develop creatives that stand out in mobile news feeds so people stop and interact with your content.
Use Stories to empower live events
Look at your marketing calendar and see if there are any events you can host using Instagram Stories. These could be internal meetups amongst your team or larger roadshows that are broadcast across social media.
Walk viewers through a day in the life of marketing
Some of the best use cases for Stories are when marketers show what life is like behind the scenes. Take your audience on a trip through a typical day with your team or within your company to show viewers the people behind the brand.
Host an Instagram takeover
If you have people on your team or external partners with massive Instagram followings, give them the authority to manage your account for a day. The vibrant tone of influencers will inject new life into your Stories content, and theoretically boost your following.
Make use of CTAs
You always want to think about the next step you want your viewers to take while interacting with your brand. Direct viewers to your website or another piece of content by creatively inserting links within the Story to your other destinations.
Create Stories for Your Snapchat Audience
Snapchat pioneered the Stories format, which initially gave the company a competitive advantage over other social channels. Over the years, Facebook has directly challenged Snapchat by replicating the Stories feature for its various applications, including the less publicized Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status.
Like Instagram, Snapchat is a platform made for younger demographics. The most common users are typically between the ages of 18 and 24 years old.
Snapchat originally branded itself as the channel for fun ephemeral snaps, a position that holds firm to this day. People can add stickers, doodles, emojis, and other creative designs to their Stories, and confidently express themselves with the knowledge that the content will disappear after a 24-hour window.
But the creative ideas are not strictly limited to individual users. Brands adopted Snapchat into their marketing campaigns and have implemented processes to create content customized for the Snapchat user experience.
Invite followers to share their snaps
When Snapchat launched Live Stories, marketers recognized a valuable opportunity to boost engagement. Brands can host events in very localized settings and broadcast coverage from the event across social media. People in attendance can thereafter share their snaps as part of one large Story, which allowed viewers to witness the event from multiple perspectives.
Schedule a meeting with all members of your marketing team to review the events currently scheduled into your marketing calendar. These could be events you plan to attend or intend to host yourself, but pick one where you can anticipate a large audience of engaged attendees.
Once you make your decision, outline the architecture of your ideal Snapchat Story for the experience. Upload a few Snaps at the beginning of the event to begin the Story, and invite your attendees to share the experience from their own perspectives. This real-time coverage will expand your reach and place your brand into the feeds of new prospective customers.
This is also a great opportunity to showcase your brand with frequency. As you build a content library of creatives designed for the event experience, insert them into your Snapchat Story to show viewers a unique representation of your brand.
Tell the story of your promotions
Snapchat Stories content is designed to disappear after a 24 hour period. While this format does restrain your creativity to some degree, there are still clever opportunities for you to promote your brand and connect with your audience.
Suppose you have a special promotion on one of your products, but it’s a temporary arrangement that’s exclusive to a very niche audience. You could use Snapchat Stories to post coupons or promotional codes required to cash in on the deal. Your followers have an opportunity to see the promotion for 24 hours, and take action before the deal expires.
You could also inform people who see your coupons that they must submit a snap to your Story demonstrating their love for one of your products. This little tactic is a clever way to promote your products and empower your brand by creating Stories of people interacting with and enjoying what you can provide.
There are plenty of ways to create Stories content but you’ll want to verify that the content is appropriate for the right social channel. Register for our “How to Think About Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat Stories” webinar for a comparison of the three Stories experiences and best practices to create the right types of content for each channel.