Is It Time to Focus on Instagram Stories?

Is It Time to Focus on Instagram Stories?

When Instagram Stories launched in August 2016, many were hesitant to use the new feature. It felt like a knock off of Snapchat, a platform that, at the time, was rapidly growing, but struggling to make money from advertisers and brands. We’ve written about Snapchat before, but in the last year, a lot has changed.

Mainly, daily use of Instagram stories has completely surpassed Snapchat use, in a surprise twist. Snapchat’s user growth rate has dropped from 17.2% to 5%, which is a pretty major dip. Meanwhile, Instagram just plain has more daily users: 250 million daily users versus 166 million. Instagram didn’t necessarily do anything revolutionary with Stories; in fact, almost everything about Instagram Stories is derivative of Snapchat. But what they did was put the premise of Snapchat into an app that lots and lots of people already use.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Your potential customers and fans are already on Instagram. If you’re on Instagram, you have an opportunity to engage with them via Stories: to show them behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business, future products, and more. No additional app to learn, no new, confusing usernames, and no reminding people that you’re also on Snapchat.

In this blog post, we want to talk about the benefits of using a social media network like Snapchat or Instagram Stories (that is, why would you even bother with something that disappears after 24 hours!) and whether it’s right for your brand. Let’s get started!

The Benefits of Stories

The thing about Instagram, and Instagram Stories, is that within the app, you have 2 ways to reach your followers: via the photos you share to your feed (which are permanent on your profile) and via Stories, which disappear after 24 hours. On Snapchat, there is only your Story: your content disappears after 24 hours, and if you don’t save it in your archive, it’s gone for good.

(In an exciting piece of news, in December 2017, Instagram launched an Archive feature for Stories as well; however, this archive differs in that you can now create highlighted stories on your profile that are there permanently. So if you share a great video of your employees working or creating something new, you can add that to your profile as a highlight! You can learn more about that here.)

With 250 million daily users, Instagram has a larger consumer base. In 2016 and 2017, over half the brands on Instagram posted Stories. Those are significant numbers. Stories is more intuitive than Snapchat (Snapchat has to provide a user guide to their investors every quarter) and has a slew of features that are unique to Instagram.

Let’s talk engagement. Snapchat is a platform that boasts of high engagement—but since the app is most popular for interpersonal relationships (not necessarily advertising or use by brands), that means little for a brand wanting to use Snapchat. Average engagement is listed at around 60% on Snapchat, but that includes individual accounts, influencer accounts (like YouTube influencers), and brands and businesses. Basically, Snapchat’s most popular users (Kylie Jenner and DJ Khalid) are popular because they are personal accounts, not brand accounts.

Comparatively, Instagram’s top brands include fashion houses like Dior, as well as Starbucks, Nike, and Oreo (all of which have over 1 million followers). They all have high levels of engagement, averaging thousands of comments per post and thousands of views per story. Instagram users are much more willing to engage with brands and influencers on Instagram, primarily because it is a platform that lends itself to being used by brands.

Should You Use Instagram Stories?

If you struggled to think up content for Snapchat, the same might be true for Instagram Stories. However, almost every brand that sells product to consumers (basically, a B2C) is suited to Instagram. If you already have a loyal brand following on Facebook, Instagram is a very easy secondary platform, mainly because Instagram is owned by Facebook (and most Facebook users are already on Instagram).

If you have a consistent content strategy and you’re already posting on Instagram regularly, then it might be time to think about using Instagram Stories alongside your existing posts. Here are a few suggestions for Instagram Stories.

  • Have a Q&A session: post a photo asking for questions. Once you receive enough (say, 5-6 questions), film a few short videos of an employee answering those questions. Post 3-4 stories of the answers to your Story.
  • Share learning moments: the most popular Instagram stories are often those of someone speaking simply to the camera. A brief video of an employee sharing a memory or moment can be impactful for your followers.
  • Give a sneak peek: releasing a new product? Share it on Instagram stories (and promote on your other social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).
  • Use the Swipe Up feature: if you’re a verified account (aka if you have over 10,000 followers), you have the option to add Swipe Up links to your stories. This means as users watch your story, they can swipe up to visit a link.
  • Use GeoTags & Hashtags: using GeoTags (aka tagging your location) can add your Story to a big Story for that location (which you can see in the Explore tab of Instagram). Using hashtags allows them to be searchable by your followers and viewers; if you create the hashtag, other users can use it.

If you want to learn more about creating Instagram content, and developing a content strategy that works, contact us here.
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