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09 Aug Instagram Stories: Is it Snapchat for Adults or Is there More to It?

Instagram created quite a buzz when it launched its Snapchat-like Stories functionality.

Many marketers are still trying to decide whether these are just a fad or if it is time integrate Instagram Stories into the marketing mix with full force.

It may be too early to tell, but I do not see Instagram Stories going anywhere soon.

With 500 million monthly active users and 250 million Direct Messaging users, Instagram Stories are more than a copied feature.

Instagram is further indulging our tech addiction. With stories introduced another incentives to interrupt our time with friends or family to  lifestream everything we do.

Whether you like it or not, the idea of lifecasting became a mainstream behavior.

Rather than fighting it, we can learn to embrace it.

Why Instagram Stories Are Here to Stay

Instagram is Snapchat for Adults

Snapchat popularity has been growing daily. In the last 4 months everyone I talked to about Social Media asked Snapchat. It was similar to Facebook of early 2000s: everyone knew it was “hot”, but did not quite know what to do with it.

While Snapchat is starting to attract older users, a lot of 24-35 users are still reluctant to use it.

It is not a good fit for a number of businesses. If you are an established brand or thought leader, Spanchat is unlikely to help you grow credibility.

Spapchat

Instagram Stories tapped into a larger set of population as Instagram users are older. Brands who were looking to adopt short video format can start experimenting with stories and reach the right audience.

Brands Already Love Instagram

According to eMarketer close to 50% of all brands are already on Instagram. This number is predicted to exceed 70% by 2017. 

90 out of top 100 brands in the world are on Instagram.

50% of all Brands Use Instagram Today. It will increase to 70% by 2017 via @emarketer Click To Tweet

The most important reasons why brands flock to Instagram is its unprecedented engagement numbers.

Instagram engagement by far exceeded other platforms. It is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.


Engagement

 

Following this trend, top brands immediately embraced Instagram Stories. Some of the early reports confirm similar engagement patterns.

“On Facebook, videos people usually watch for the first 15 seconds or so, then the viewership drops off a cliff,” said Kevin Young, Bloomberg’s social media editor. “We’re seeing much stronger results with Instagram.”

Snapchat User Interface is Confusing

Snapchat worked hard on improving their UI, yet it is still very confusing.

Your ability to find users on Snapchat is fairly limited, while Instagram taps into a powerful user discovery feature. It is fueled by massive database of users owned by Facebook.

The Instagram Stories will be featured on the timeline ranked by some of the Facebook ranking algorithm logic. The most engaging stories will be prioritize higher to only show you content you are most interested in seeing.

How You Can Best Use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Brand

Social Media success is fueled by the fact that we love to talk about ourselves.

Social Media gives us a preview into other peoples lives, that is why 44% of us “like” their friends’ content daily to engage with others by learning more about their lives.

Humans spend 40% of their time talking about themselves in person and 80% online via @bufferapp Click To Tweet

Instagram Stories are designed to give our online friends more reasons to learn about us.

Share “Behind the Scenes” Moments from the Events

Every major TV and movie studio offers “Behind the Scenes” tours for their fans. People enjoy learning about little known facts and receiving a first hand account of what the “making of” process is like.

Instagram Stories instantly extended this opportunity to over 500 million users.

If you frequently run events, you can use Instagram stories as a marketing technique to grow your followers.

Offer exclusive “Behind the Scenes” content from events your run, attend or present at.

Share your last minute preparation details, collect exclusive comments from the speakers, close off the event with live audience comments and suggestions.

Give a Sneak-Peak into your Brand Personality

Your social media plan calls for execution on the tightly defined content calendar. Instagram historically encouraged sharing your “best self” with its highly edited feed of photos.

Instagram stories give you a chance to show up as human with more a new side to your brand. It is now more of a communication tool.

Instagram Stories allow brands to share unscripted and casual side of their personality Click To Tweet

Show a more casual side of your personality: add some humor, show some of the bloopers, talk about people supporting you and your work.  Be fun and authentic while remaining true to your core brand message.

Share Progress Updates on Your Product

The most exciting part of a product or an app launch is the journey along the way.

If you are working on a new product, concept, service, invite your audience on the journey of creating it via frequent, short stories that will talk about your successes and failures.

Nothing builds engagement and loyalty more than allowing people to participate in the process along the way.

Your followers turn into loyal fans when they co-create with your brand via Instagram Stories Click To Tweet
Provide a Glimpse into Your Next Release

If you are getting ready for a launch or running a regular series of posts, events, launches, you can give your audience a sneak peak of what will be appearing in the Next Issue.

Share exclusive preview of your next release via Instagram Stories Click To Tweet

Vogue UK has been publishing stories daily and they report that stories related to the next issue get about 10x the engagement.

Theme-based Stories

If you are preparing for a big event or a large conference, consider adding Instagram stories along the timeline of your event. These can span different stages of your event: planning, preparation, execution, post-event wrap up.

It works great for larger events that typically generate a large audience by itself. For example,

Several Limitations to Consider

While there are many advantages to using the Stories, there are quite a few issues to think about before jumping into them.

UI Format is Somewhat Clunky

While still better than Snapchat UI, creating Instagram stories is somewhat clunky and time-consuming. Instead of creating daily stories, reserve these for somewhat special occasions.

Stories will Disappear After 24 Hours

Make sure to focus on optimization, content, building your audience base before you make stories a part of your regular content strategy. Build these into your content schedule gradually. Experiment with different times and different types of content.

These are Still Relatively New

Some people have not updated their Instagram app, therefore, may not see your stories. The feed is also cluttered with all of the people experimenting with the new format. Therefore, the quality of content is fairly low resulting views on the stories.

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