Except, it’s not really that new. Instagram Stories is actually an almost exact copy of Snapchat’s Stories – yes, they even have the same name.
Snapchat’s been evolving fast in recent years, recently reporting that it’s now being used by more than 150 million people every day – more than Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. Not only that, but 60% of Snapchat users actively create content, which is an incredibly high benchmark for engagement.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has seen this, and they decided enough was enough – Snapchat’s growth has taken users away from both Facebook and Snapchat, so why not just create the same functionality in their own app?
The tactic here appears to be targeting the cross-over audience – in Australia for example, 60% of social media users aged 18-29 are active on Snapchat, while 58% of that same age bracket use Instagram. That’s a significant amount of people who maintain a presence on both concurrently – if they can do all the things they’d normally go to Snapchat for in Instagram, an app they’re already using, maybe they just won’t bother to switch.
And of course, as with every new addition, there’s also the brand angle. Can Instagram Stories be used for marketing? Will it be a useful tool for your business?
The answer, as always, is it depends on where your audience is paying attention, but definitely there is significant potential there, if your target market is active on Instagram. Here three ideas for how brands can use the new feature.
1. Provide an insider perspective
Most businesses use Instagram to put forward a polished, perfect portrayal of their brand, in working with the visual aesthetic of the platform. But Stories is more about active content, the things you’re doing day to day. Because of this, brands should consider using Stories to show off another side of their business and how they go about doing things – it’s a new opportunity to showcase a more human, engaging element of your brand.
2. Tell your story
Stories is all about capturing your story – and that works from a brand perspective also. But in order to maximize the impact of your brand story, you really want to provide your audience with a way into the narrative so they can see where your business fits into their lives, as opposed to being a distant corporate entity. Consider what stories you can tell that relate to how your products and services can help your audience and what your brand offers in their lives. By focussing on this, you can then create Stories content that showcases your product benefits in real world application and the efforts that you and your staff put into making that possible.
3. Seek feedback
On every Instagram Story frame there’s an option in the bottom right for the viewer to send you a message. This is a great opportunity to share news and updates with your audience and seek immediate response. If you’re a restaurant, for example, you could show off the options for this week’s specials then ask your audience to respond with a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote to each, then tally the results.
There’s a heap of opportunities through Stories content, and Instagram has made the process very easy and straight-forward so anyone – from a novice to an Instagram pro – can use it. If you already have a brand following on Instagram, it’s definitely worth thinking about how you can use Stories. And if you don’t, it might be worth looking into whether your target audience is active there. The platform now has more than 500 million users, there’s a high chance the people you want to reach are among them.