In 2011, the new social media app Snapchat launched. Snapchat was a fun way of sharing pictures and videos with friends that disappeared in a few seconds, or after a day if adding to your “story”. Little did we all know but the future of social media was being born. Social Media giants at the time, such as Facebook and Twitter, largely ignored the new format until Instagram introduced their version of stories in 2016. By the end of 2018, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and WhatsApp Status had over 450 million daily users (source: sociallysorted.com), with forecasted growth far outranking regular newsfeed users.
So why is this the case? It has been suggested by researchers that it is because humans, by nature, are hungry for a good story. We like a cohesive narrative that flows and that has a clear timeline. Due to various algorithms across all social media channels, standard newsfeed posts are often disjointed, making it hard to achieve this narrative. With the story feature, all posts are put together in one seamless stream that allows brands to create the story that they want to tell.
If you are just starting to use stories to raise your brand awareness and market your product or service, it can be really difficult to know where to start. There are so many channels available. Along with Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp there is also Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, and many others. You need to figure out which channel your target audience uses the most.
Snapchat is mainly used by Gen-Z, whereas you’ll have a better chance of targeting millennials on Instagram. Of course, there are many millennials that use Snapchat and vice versa so don’t discount any channel until you have carried out proper research on your particular target audience in depth. Don’t forget as well you can create content in one channel, download and post it to another quite easily, allowing you to cover all bases.
Once you have figured out where your audience is, you will need to think about the content. We have included below some key points to consider when getting started:
- Add value. Gen-Z and Millenials have an eerie sub-conscious sixth-sense for knowing when something is an
ad,and will tend to ignore things like sponsored posts etc. Stories give your brand a chance to really showcase what value you can add. Make sure your content is informative and educational.
- It is extremely important to get across your authenticity. In view of this, posts should be high-production but not too fancy. Research by the Guardian showed that perceived low-fi posts got more attention than posts with crazy high-production value.
- The most popular form of content is demonstrating your product or service. Merchandising content for brands is the most popular across all channels. People want to see what you have to offer, and stories give you the chance to directly tell them.
- One of the great things about stories is being able to engage with users but also to
utiliseuser-generated content. For example, getting users to tag you or send you videos or images of them using your product or reviewing your service. This created a community feel, as well as gaining credibility and useful content.
- Most importantly, be human! Brands or individuals with the largest social media following have it because of their willingness to share and ability to be relatable.
Now that you have your content ideas, you can start utilising the marketing tools that are readily built into the platforms and are shockingly (mostly) free to use! The top seven tools you should be using are as follows:
- Polls (Instagram and Facebook only) – polls allow you to directly ask your audience a question and receive an instant response. This is ideal for A/B Testing or new product research.
- Tracked links – The technology is not quite there to track in the individual channels, but using a Bitly or Google short link in your story allows you to track the traffic you are receiving from that particular channel.
- Mentions – engage with your community and increase visibility by tagging other influencers, brands or users in your posts.
- Location tags – If your business depends on location, make sure you are encouraging your users to tag themselves there. Maybe even encourage employees to do the same.
- Geofilters (Snapchat only) – You can use other brands’ Geofilters or pay to create your own. This is a filter that can only be used in a specific location and would usually be relevant to your business.
- Highlights – Stories usually only last for 24 hours, but if you want your content to be available for longer, you can add it to your highlights reel and group together different content themes or forms. These are highlighted at the top of your profile.
If you are not using the story feature yet on your social media channels, make it a top priority for your social strategy. We predict that very soon stories will be overtaking traditional newsfeed formats and when that happens, you will want to be ahead of the competition.