The Rise of Stories in Social Media

The Rise of Stories in Social Media

Social media marketing is a moving target. As new platforms come to the surface, well-established players must continue to increase their paid advertising offerings by introducing new features, ad formats, and targeting options. Marketers are in a constant race to update their strategies to keep up with these changes—and right now, many are scrambling to get ahead with Stories.

Once considered Snapchat’s hallmark feature, Stories quickly caught the attention of other platforms and have now become standard on social media. The beauty of Stories is that they only last 24 hours. Users can share moments from their day, new products they tried, reshare a cool image, or post any other content they find interesting but without the commitment of uploading an actual post onto their feed. The limited time frame creates a sense of urgency and scarcity around the content, encouraging users to watch content before it’s gone. Stories have more than 1.3 billion daily users across Facebook’s apps and Snapchat, and Facebook estimates that sharing to Stories will surpass sharing through feeds sometime this year.

Their popularity can be attributed to the ease of creating them, the type of experience they produce, and how easy it is to consume them. The appeal of Stories doesn’t just extend to everyday social media users, brands can use this feature to reach their audience in a more personal way.

The inherent casual nature of Stories provides an authentic and interactive experience for the followers of both brands and influencers. Stories take over sound and play in full screen on mobile, offering the opportunity for brands to reach customers during an extremely immersive experience, in between other organic content they already consume. On Instagram, Stories have features like text boxes, polls, and other interactive material that allows followers to interact with the page directly. Marketers must remember, however, that Stories are a dynamic and easy-to-consume piece of content, and plan accordingly; videos must last no more than 15 seconds, images no more than 7, and anything can be skipped with the tap of your thumb. Preventing users from swiping through to the next story is often the main hurdle for advertisers using paid Story placements.

Besides using smart audience targeting when setting up a paid campaign to ensure the right prospects are being reached, there are different design elements that can help a story ad stand out. Users are watching the stories of their friends, celebrities, and other profiles they are interested in. Regardless of whether they’re a video or image, ads should be high resolution in order to compete with the content surrounding it. To grab users’ attention, incorporating creative elements such as bright, contrasting colors in fonts or overlays, and pictures that capture interesting settings or a person’s face to make an instant emotional connection, will help capture interest. And if you’re running a video ad in your stories, make sure it has sound, since 60% of Stories are viewed with the sound on. Lastly, put your brand and product front and center. Clear calls to action and branding will at least get users’ attention before (and if) they swipe through.

Stories are now a bedrock of social media. They are why, ultimately, social media was created. They’re also the richest way to share content. People have become more and more comfortable with sharing their lives online and often do it multiple times a day. They’re willing to give others a full view (sometimes live) of their personal life, as opposed to a piece of curated content, be it a video, a story, or just text. Stories make everything more authentic, personal, and active. If brands want to connect with their audience in a place where they already spend a lot of time and are receptive, this unique placement would be paramount to any social media marketing strategy.