On August 2nd, Instagram announced its latest and greatest feature, Instagram Stories. Sounds familiar, right? That’s because it’s almost identical to a feature that exists on another platform, Snapchat Stories. While brands around the world took a collective, frustrated deep breath at yet another social feature to figure out, and consumers spent a day confused and underwhelmed, marketers headed to the drawing board.
First and foremost, what is it?
The basics between the Snapchat and Instagram Stories are the same – they’re live updates, they last 24 hours, you can draw on them, you can filter them, and you can share them with your followers. Instagram Stories live at the top of the app homepage rather than immersed into the (non-chronological) overall feed, and are geared towards more real-time content that doesn’t overwhelm your followers. Instagram does not provide the facial recognition filters, or the geofilters that Snapchat offers–however, it has upped it’s drawing game in comparison (what up, neon pen?). Other than that, #twinsies.
Why should brands care?
Since it was acquired by this little company back in 2012, you may have heard of it: Facebook, Instagram is bigger and it’s been around longer than Snapchat. Instagram’s audience size (300 million daily users vs Snapchat’s 150 million daily users) and seniority pose as a huge benefit to brands who have put a lot of work and time into growing their Instagram following. Let’s take Nike for example: the day Instagram released its new feature, Nike posted an Instagram Story that generated more than 800,000 views in 24 hours, compared to its best video on Snapchat, which only garnered 66,000 views. All those filters, hashtags and video content you’ve been creating are finally about to pay off.
Instagram also offers more specific targeting for brands. This doesn’t seem like a huge benefit, but the new feature allows brands to restrict access to viewers; alcohol brands, for example, are able to restrict viewing to users that are (registered as) 21 years of age or older. This also benefits brands that cater to multiple and varied audiences that may take greater interest in different products or services offered by a brand. This allows brands to create more relevant content that appeals to a more targeted audience.
With the pressure of “over posting” off of our shoulders, brands have a unique opportunity with this new feature. Whether your brand has a live event, new product announcement, contest promotion or juicy behind the scenes content, Instagram is ready to help you reach your audience in real time.
Ready to get Story-ing, but not sure where to start? Here are some things to keep in mind as you get started:
- Observe to see how Instagram users are interacting with stories and consider your brand opportunity
- Give some thought around the right times and instances to use stories – for example, are there events that lend themselves to this type of content? Tip: Think about what your audience wants to see, not just what you, as a brand, want to share with them
- Test it out – don’t be afraid to try new things, as you will surely gain some valuable learnings
- Tap into the metrics available on Instagram to capture the engagement on your stories
It’s too soon to tell how much impact Stories will have on your social strategy, but the time to experiment is now. Get creative, be bold and have fun! Now, go forth and Story accordingly.