Written by Michael Del Gigante
Just as brands have mastered the art of marketing using compelling text, photos, social media posts, live streams, pre-recorded video, and slideshows, yet another content option has appeared on the horizon. Now brands are adding “stories” to their repertoire.
Stories first appeared on Snapchat and were quickly copied by other platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. The format allows the user to connect vertically oriented pieces in a mixed-media format of text, video, and pictures. This unique structure and the fact that the content typically disappears within 24 hours, set stories apart from traditional posts.
While most brands have incorporated social media into their marketing strategies, many have found the stories format to be more challenging. Many have stayed away from stories because of uncertainty about how to use them effectively to engage consumers.
Brands that don’t use stories as part of their social media strategies are doing themselves harm by missing out on opportunities to engage with consumers—especially younger ones. You only have to look at the large number of well-known brick-and-mortar retailers that have closed their doors recently to realize that failing to adapt to changing consumer preferences is the ultimate kiss of death for any brand.
So, why should brands focus on stories? According to MDG Advertising’s social media specialists, here are ten good reasons:
1. Stories Are Gaining in Popularity
Even though the format hasn’t been around very long, social media users have been quick to adopt stories and propel them into the mainstream. According to a 2018 survey by Techcrunch, more than 450 million people use the stories platform on WhatsApp every day, 300 million Instagram users use stories daily, 191 million on Snapchat, and more than 150 million on Facebook.
2. Stories Appeal to Younger Consumers
While stories are gaining popularity among all demographics, younger consumers have been especially quick to embrace them. According to data from VidMob, 73 percent of those from ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. use stories on Snapchat and 70 percent on Instagram. Fifty-eight percent of adults ages 25 to 34 use them on Instagram and 53 percent on Snapchat. If brands want to continue to reach younger consumers on social media, they’ll need to make stories a part of their social media strategies.
3. Stories Create a Sense of Urgency
The ephemeral nature of stories is another reason why brands have been slow to warm up to the format. There’s still a perception among marketers that it’s a waste of money to invest in content that’s going to disappear within a few hours. The vanishing nature of stories, however, can be used to their advantage. The immediacy of the content creates a sense of urgency, which makes stories ideal for providing information about upcoming events or sales. The fact that the content doesn’t last forever also means that there’s less pressure to make it perfect, so it can be faster and cheaper to produce.
4. Stories Were Designed for Mobile
Traditional social media formats were either adapted from the analog world or developed before the days of mobile technology. Stories were developed with a mobile-first mindset, which means that the format should enjoy long-term success since more than half of all web traffic is driven by mobile devices. The vertical orientation of the posts and the way the user interacts with the content by swiping or tapping make the stories format ideal for today’s consumers who are accustomed to obtaining information and performing tasks from smartphones and tablets.
5. Stories Get Preferred Placement
Stories are the social media equivalent of prime beachfront property in real estate. Because the format is so popular among social media users, the various platforms are clamoring to position themselves as the leader with the stories format. This means that stories posts typically get preferred placement in social media feeds and appear toward the top of the screen, which is especially important when the user is viewing content on a mobile device. Not only are stories among the first things that a user sees in their feed, but they also tend to automatically play one after another, which increases their value even more.
6. Stories Can Set Brands Apart
Since the majority of brands still haven’t adopted the stories approach, it’s a great way for them to stand out from the competition. Where a traditional post may get overlooked in the deluge of marketing posts that social media users see in their feeds each day, a stories post will have less competition and is more likely to grab the consumer’s attention. Of course, this is likely to change quickly as the format becomes more popular and more brands jump on the bandwagon.
7. Social Media Influencers Are Using Stories
Brands are increasingly reliant on social media influencer engagement to drive their campaigns, which means that it’s important for brands to embrace strategies that are popular among influencers. According to Klear, an influencer marketing platform, one-third of sponsored influencer posts in 2018 were stories, and the percentage is expected to increase significantly in 2019.
8. The Stories Format Is Becoming More Sophisticated
Despite its fleeting nature, the stories format is surprisingly sophisticated. A brand can customize its story with interactive polls and filters, links to other social media accounts and external sites, and choose from various content options to create a compelling and unique experience for the consumer.
9. Stories Allow a Brand to Express Its Voice
The format itself is unique and fun, which is a big reason consumers have adopted stories so quickly. Brands can also combine the various elements that make the format unique in a way that sets them apart from their competitors and reinforces their brand identity.
10. Brands Can Invest in Paid Stories
While unpaid organic stories are an effective way to engage with consumers, brands shouldn’t overlook the value of paid-story options. All the major platforms now offer paid ads using the stories format, including Snapchat and Instagram.
About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising
In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.