Why Smart Marketers Are Doubling Down on Instagram Stories

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Earlier this year, Instagram announced that Stories, a product released a year ago, had acquired 250 million monthly users. When Stories was launched in 2016, the product was seen as a Snapchat rip-off that would struggle to find a substantial number of users.

Today, Instagram Stories is growing quickly. It is used by members of Generation Z to stay connected with friends, by Instagram influencers interested in engaging followers and by marketers who are eager to share their brands’ stories in a new way.

Today, the best marketers have embraced Instagram Stories for a number of reasons. Overall, the platform allows marketers to create engaging content that advances the goals of brands in a scalable way. Here are 10 key reasons why marketers are embracing Instagram Stories.

1. Instagram Stories is more popular than Snapchat.

Instagram has beaten Snapchat at its own game. Roughly 100 million more people use Stories than use Snapchat. At this pace, the majority of Instagram users (700 million) will be using Stories by the end of 2018.

Marketers tend to focus on platforms that attract a large number of prospective customers. Instagram Stories has attracted millions of customers in a short amount of time.

2. Content can be consumed multiple times per day.

The average teenager visits Snapchat 11 times per day, according to one study. While a similar study has not yet been conducted with regard to Instagram, it is highly likely that Instagram Stories will see a similar consumption pattern.

Since Stories is a medium that encourages content consumption multiple times per day, it is an ideal choice for marketers who are interested in engaging a target audience as frequently as possible.

3. Producing high-quality content requires minimal investment.

Unlike creating a great YouTube video or Facebook ad, creating compelling content on Instagram Stories is fairly simple. Production values on Stories tend to be lower than on other social media platforms. This requires fewer marketing resources and means content can be created faster.

One could argue that not only is high-production value content unnecessary on Stories, it is actually not appropriate. After all, Stories is a product designed to add realism and intimacy to the Instagram experience.

4. Live video is baked into Stories.

Live video was a marketing buzzword throughout 2017, and is poised to be a focus for marketers in the coming year as well. Stories has live video baked into the product. With a tap of a button, marketers can broadcast a live video that reaches Instagram followers. Followers who have Instagram notifications turned on will receive a ping when the brand has started a new live video.

5. Stories can seamlessly lead to off-platform content.

With traditional Instagram posts it can be tricky to get followers to take an off-platform action, like visiting a branded website. But Stories makes this transition seamless. With a simple scroll, brands can allow viewers of a story to jump from Instagram to a branded webpage. This feature makes for a far more enjoyable experience for audience members, and it helps marketers to quickly drive website visitors via Instagram.

6. Ephemeral posts protect brands from risk.

Social media can cause brands to get into trouble if the content is somehow off-key. But because Instagram Stories expire after they are viewed, it protects brands from some of the risk posed by other social media networks.

Of course, Stories need to be on-brand, as followers can screenshot content at will. Still, marketers can worry a bit less about how content aligns with stringent social media guidelines, freeing them up to take more calculated risks when it comes to content and strategy.

7. New marketing tactics are often effective.

The effectiveness of channels will change over time. Currently, Instagram Stories is enjoying widespread and increasing popularity. This is one reason why marketers are adopting Stories at such a fast clip – the channel is new, and new channels are often inherently effective.

Remember, the internet is a noisy place. Our attention span is roughly 8 seconds long when surfing the web (a goldfish has a 12-second attention span). Novelty helps marketers to attract attention, and Instagram Stories is novel.

8. Brands can form more intimate connections.

Because of the ephemeral nature of Stories, brands are able to bring followers “behind the scenes.” This allows marketers to form more intimate relationships with prospects. With Stories, marketers can hold a live Q&A with their organization’s leadership team, or they can share images of the work happening behind the scenes to launch a new product. Stories offers a way to build stronger connections and excitement among followers.

9. Stories naturally appeals to Generation Z.

Members of Generation Z prefer Instagram and Snapchat to other social media networks, in part because the ephemeral nature of the Stories feature appeals to their digital lifestyle. It is assumed that many of the Gen Zers who previously used Snapchat left the platform for Instagram once Stories was released. Marketers interested in speaking to Gen Zers are opting for Stories because they know this demographic is using Stories in large numbers.

10. More people are projected to use Stories in the coming year.

As was mentioned earlier, it is expected that more people will adopt Instagram Stories in the coming year, making it the largest social media platform of its kind. Brands interested in creating content that appeals to younger demographics will increasingly turn to Stories simply because so many users are thronging to it. 

Conclusion

Instagram Stories is an amazing example of how quickly the social media landscape can change. At the start of last year, Snapchat was headed for hyper-growth. This year, Stories is the platform of choice for younger demographics and increasingly, for marketers. Since Stories offers marketers a number of creative ways to share engaging content, it is likely that brands will continue to adopt Stories in the coming year as well.

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David Epstein

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