04 Aug Instagram Stories – The 411
So, Instagram’s latest update includes a new feature called ‘stories’. To anyone who has ever used Snapchat this will feel remarkably familiar, as it’s almost identical to the stories feature which launched on the app three years ago.
For those of you not sure, ‘stories’ allows users to build a chain of content, be it photos or videos, that can be viewed over a 24hr period before they expire.
A bit of history
To understand the significance of this move, we need a little history lesson. Let’s go back to early 2012, when Carly Rae Jepsen was number one and London was gearing up to host the Olympics; Facebook saw the potential in Instagram, which at the time only had 30million users, and bought it for a whopping $1bn. Then 18months later, in its continuing quest for world domination, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat. However, Snapchat rejected the $3bn offer, opting to remain independent. Ouch.
Fast-forward to today and the Facebook-owned Instagram launches a feature almost identical in look and feel to one of Snapchat’s core functions…
What does it mean for businesses?
Many small businesses have shied away from Snapchat as a marketing tool; as a much newer player in the social media market it’s found it difficult to appeal to an older audience and shed the ‘rude pictures’ stigma. Multi-national brands have seen success on the platform however, with names such as McDonalds and Buzzfeed using the app daily to engage loyal fans. Interestingly though, last year ASOS told The Drum that Snapchat is an essential part of its marketing plan, despite having next to no engagement data or solid Return on Investment figures.
On the other hand, many businesses have already embraced Instagram, although the data available to marketers is still lacking, the benefits are a lot more visible. This of course means those already using Instagram can now begin to use the stories feature – without the need to add yet another social platform to the to do list.
What should stories be used for?
The key difference of stories vs standard images is the limited time they’re available – only 24 hours. They’re perfect for short offers, such as vouchers codes and they’re a great way to release exclusive offers to engage users and have people from other platforms follow you.
The images and videos you can build up over 24 hours tell ‘the story’, giving brands a great way to share content. New product teasers, insights and behind-the-scenes tours give new insight into brands.
It’s tough, particularly for small businesses, to manage multiple social media channels, and many stick to the top two in order to make it manageable. Instagram are probably hoping that by combining new features with their superior user numbers and being perceived as more ‘respectable’ will not only cement their position but attract a whole new wave of advertising revenue. The new Instagram features give brands the opportunity to find new ways to communicate with their community without the need to add more platforms to their armoury.