Plugged in: Stories

Recent research has found that social media stories are growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing in 2019, and that four out of five major brands are using the story feature to share and engage with their audience in a more personalised way.


Sarah O'Donovan

Unlike a static post in a feed, followers can watch stories by navigating to a page or the story section in their app and opening the available content. A story will usually consist of staggered content presented in chronological order from the past 24 hours.

Content can be viewed, downloaded and re-watched numerous times, but individual items disappear from the account’s story after being live for one full day.

Pioneered by Snapchat in 2013, but largely popularised with the rollout across Facebook and Instagram in late 2017, stories have changed the way we use ephemeral content – that is, disappearing messages.

Putting an expiry date on branded material online has be-come an effective marketing strategy, fostering a sense of urgency and exclusivity around the content. 

Stories, whether on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, are an appealing medium for time-poor business owners because they don’t demand a lot of time and effort.

In fact, the ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘off the cuff’ feel of stories means audiences typically respond better to con-tent that’s less polished because it looks genuine and adds a personal, human touch to a brand. 

Another benefit of the story is its versatility – from voting buttons to stickers or question and answer capabilities, the opportunities for engagement with your audience are expanding, and they provide new ways to interact and gain better insights about your followers.

It’s still important to balance this personalisation with high-quality content, so using multiple styles and platforms can help to provide balance. Test out a few different options to find out what works best for your brand. While high production value might not generate immediate leads, it could help to increase your online following. 

Find creative ways to repurpose content from customers and your wider communities (local and online) – but always be sure to credit the original post. 

If you’re not prepared to watch a story disappear after the effort you put into creating it, make use of the highlights option where stories can be displayed for longer periods of time and grouped into categories. This feature is ideal for special promotions that deserve extended exposure, but make sure you use it sparingly or risk losing audience interest. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to show some personality through this medium. While your posts should all be appropriate and professional, the online circle of trust tightens as brands become human, so let your customers see who’s behind the brand now and then. 

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