As a company or organisation hoping to make a social media impression, understanding what Snapchat and Instagram Stories can do for your brand is key.
With both their growing user bases, Snapchat and Instagram can be leveraged to increase impressions, brand awareness and of course, potentially lead to sales and revenue. Stories are another way to make your brand stand out through social, beyond a typical photo or video post.
What Are ‘Stories’?
“Stories” allow the sharing of photos and videos with your followers. The key feature is that these photos or videos disappear after a 24 hour period. The feature can provide a very different feel or aesthetic than the usual Valencia post on Instagram; coming across as more on-the-fly or spontaneous. Developed by Snapchat, and later adopted as a feature by Instagram, many were quick to cry copycat – yet Instagram’s choice to embrace Stories comes across as less of a mimic and more of a natural progression on how we want social media to be: authentic, interactive and less contrived.
That’s why many brands are seeing this as less of a fad, and more as a way to get creative with the message, tone, and purpose of their social media. A polished post may get likes, comments and show the best side of your product or service, but many brands are understanding that Stories can create dimension and show a company from another side. Here are some ways you could include Stories as part of your brand and social media strategy:
1. Announce News, Accolades or Awards
Brands with a very specific aesthetic, post-style or method of marketing with Instagram may be hesitant to muck it up with a screenshot of an email or a press release; even if it’s celebratory news. Some brands are also just cautious of being too self-promotional in their social media. This makes Stories an excellent middle ground: it gives brands the chance to share exciting news and press, without worrying about disrupting the tone or images of their profile. Many brands are even starting to use Stories as the ‘news centre’, such as pop culture channel E! News, who share celebrity headlines all in easy, digestible graphics. This allows the reader to get the information they seek, with the option to continue reading via the website if they wish to do so.
2. Influencers, User-Generated Content and Q&As
Another great way to start using Stories is to create original content with brand influencers, or even typical customers. While celebrity Q&As via Stories from fan-submitted questions are a defining example of how a larger brand can leverage this feature, much smaller companies can use this feature to foster customer loyalty too. For example, the capabilities for many brands to create location-targeted geofilters for Snapchat means many ways to get customers to engage in a fun way. This can be heightened further by asking customers to submit their Snaps to the brand to get goodies or promotions. This call-to-action to customers to share their Snaps also allows a chance to measure ROI, and see who is actually engaging; a sometimes difficult measure to do with Snapchat.
3. Behind-the-Scenes (BTS)
It’s easy to associate this type of post with a sense of VIP or exclusiveness. It’s also easy to think of the many fashion brands and magazine that use BTS posts on Snapchat to give users an inside look before the runway show. But most users don’t need this type of glam to do this for their own brand successfully. Whether it’s a company trade show, an annual conference or a quick interview with a keynote speaker before they hit the stage, these posts translate well as Stories are all about conveying intimacy between the user and the follower.
4. Share Discounts or Promotions
It’s not unusual for a brand to share web-only promotion codes, or special offers via email newsletters — or even to the first 10 people to like a specific post on their Instagram profile. Doing this also in Stories is a great way to train followers to always check for special deals. Not to mention it’s also a great way to measure and get conversions. 100 users may view your Stories, but if only 1 user redeems the special promo code, perhaps focusing efforts on this type of marketing can be limited, or dialed down. Of course, don’t be afraid try more than a couple times; remember, it disappears in 24 hours so you want to give your audience a chance to tune in!
5. Tell An ‘Actual’ Story
While an obvious sounding tip, don’t underestimate that brands that can forget to do this. Using the short video feature in Instagram or Snapchat Stories to tell a narrative in a series of visual chapters can get followers engaged. For example, athleisure brand Beyond Yoga uses their Instagram Stories feed to share the story of a woman throughout her run around town; all while of course she sports various pieces of workout gear from their collection. The key point is to remain innovative and get creative. Users notice when a brand is looking to try something different — and again, because it disappears in 24 hours, you don’t have to feel afraid of something that fails to fly or doesn’t receive a large reception. Remember, view counts are only viewable by the profile owner.
What’s Better for Brands?
It’s tough to pit Instagram and Snapchat against each other, yet brands with limited resources or valued time are itching to understand which one stands to have the best ROI.
While Snapchat invented the Stories feature on their own platform, Instagram’s adoption of the feature does allow brands to experiment with a platform they’re already grown accustomed to. Snapchat’s geofilters, improved API, and younger-skewed demographic is attractive to brands, but it’s hard to compete with familiarity. Not to mention the numbers brands see with Instagram Stories help to make the decision pretty clear. Ad Age reports that when using first using Stories, athletic brand Nike saw over 800,000 views in 24 hours on Instagram compared to the 66,000 views they receive on Snapchat. As a brand, those impression sizes are pretty convincing; and truly means more eyes are seeing the post and paying attention.
How to Start
There’s no limitation or major difficulty in getting started. Like any social media strategy, it’s all about evaluating a purpose, tone, and ways you want to measure your activity. Is there a particular goal in mind that you think Stories could accomplish in your social media strategy? Do you want to establish a presence on Snapchat, or is your company on Instagram already and Stories are meant to compliment your current goals and strategy?
Asking the right questions before starting is the best way to ensure it’s not all in vain. But with the right messaging, Stories can add a boost to your audience, give you a chance to be creative, fun, or test something new — no matter your brand!