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Let me tell you a story…

There’s a new kid on the content block. In 2018 Stories proved their worth, and subsequently in 2019 they’re EVERYWHERE. Every dominant social platform has started introducing a ‘stories’ option. Although Instagram Stories is one of the more popular and well-known versions, Stories actually originated on Snapchat in 2013.

If you’re a total stories newbie, a Story is a post option that allows users to quickly and easily post a picture or a short video of what they’re up to. This picture or video can then be viewed by followers for a 24 hour period, after which (if not saved - we’ll talk about that later) it disappears.

Since 2013, everyone (Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Skype… need we go on?) has adopted the format, and, if you haven’t already, it’s about time you did too.

Why Stories are a Bestseller

Since a particularly creative caveman drew a series of pictures on his wall, storytelling has been a fundamental part of human communication. Due to their ability to inform, persuade, foster support or cause an emotional response, they have become powerful tools for brands.

Whichever platform you use, the feature generally allows you to add content continuously, adding it to a chronological icon at the top of the home page, shown in the image below.

Since Stories are such a big focus on Social right now, there are updates and new features added regularly, allowing brands to engage their followers in so many new, interesting and constantly evolving ways.

The theory behind why Stories work so well? The format suits people’s online habits better than traditional news feed posts we’re so used to seeing. Bitesize portions of visual information, easily digestible by the modern audience are what we lean towards as humans, and if you’ve engaged with stories to date, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Think of it as reality TV - intriguing and addictive.

Why use Stories?

Since Stories are displayed prominently across most platforms, there’s huge opportunity for increased brand awareness, and much more constant engagement with your followers. Stickers available on some platforms allow you to increase traffic to your website, and engage with a younger audience in a new way.

Stories are also ‘discoverable’, meaning that people who don’t follow you are exposed to your your updates too. Plus, on Instagram, if you use hashtags, your Instagram stories with that hashtag appear at the top of the feed.

The best way to think of stories is as a secondary timeline of content for your more dedicated followers. As Gary Vee puts it, posts are the 'jabs' and stories are the 'right hook' when it comes to persuasion and brand building.

Although stories are time-limited on the timeline, it’s possible to save Stories to your homepage to turn them into static content in the form of “Highlights.”

Stories are fast becoming a priority piece of content over traditional posts. It's our prediction that stories will soon become the globally accepted content preference for brands, simply because of the engagement they create and influence they have.

Still not sold? 500 million users interact with Instagram Stories daily, 188 million on Snapchat Stories, and 300 million with Facebook and Messenger Stories. That’s huge!

The Nitty-Gritty - How to use Stories?

There’s so many ways to use stories, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The best way to get started is simply by using them, so you can get used to the format and what works for you. Here’s some ideas on how to use stories in your business:

1. Behind the Scenes Stories

Stories don’t have to be super polished - they are a more informal medium, and can therefore be a little more spontaneous and relaxed.

Many brands create Stories that show off what they’re doing ‘Behind the Scenes’ whether that’s attending industry events, organising a photoshoot, or running a team brainstorm.

The example above was taken from one of our stories, when the team was running a client shoot day. The idea is to show what we get up to ‘on an average day’ at The Social Shop in a more intimate & informal way.

Events work really well on Stories - you can think of it like taking your followers along with you. ASB recently posted a story from Auckland Pride, showing the event and how they were participating. This is a great way both for them to raise awareness of causes that they support, and also show some personality and what their company values are.

2. How-tos & Tutorials

Another great way to use Stories is by highlighting your products with a how-to video or tutorial. The sequential format of stories is perfect for step-by-step content, whether you want to show a recipe, or how to change a tyre.

This bite-size educational content engages & educates at the same time. For example, the tutorial below by @zerowastechef shows quickly and easily how to make Bento Bags. This has been saved to her highlights for anyone who browses later and wants to see how to make them too.

3. Share User Generated Content

Many brands invite their users to share content using specific hashtags & then re-share that content in their stories. For example, Rebel Sport uses their #RebelSport hashtag to encourage followers to share pictures. They then display these both in their Stories and as a ‘Community’ highlight on their profile.

Publishing UGC in your Stories is a great way to avoid it dominating your main feed, whilst also showing off the valuable shout-outs from your followers.

4. Time-Sensitive Offers, Deals and Promos

Just as you’d promote an offer through your standard social media channels, you can promote through Stories. Highlighting a current sale or offer can be great way to use stories and improve engagement.

For example, AirNZ’s Grabaseat profile often promotes the sales currently running.

If you fancy running a story-specific offer, these can help encourage your followers to stay up-to-date with your profile to keep and eye out for fresh deals and updates.

5. Special Announcements

Introducing new products or services through stories is a great way to raise awareness. For example, The Warehouse Group has recently begun their Here for Good campaign to promote their sustainability values.

With the increase of customers wanting to know about the sustainability practices of companies they’re buying from, this is a great way to let people know how they’re doing in this space.

To wrap it all up: Brands using stories as part of their social media strategy are getting more visibility, interaction and cut-through, hands-down. As a consequence, if you're not currently using stories, chances are you're losing out to your competitors because it's very likely they are!

Bottom-line - get stuck in! It's time to start incorporating stories into your everyday marketing activity. Stories should be as second-nature as checking your email. If you want help with making a social media content strategy that incorporates stories and is up to date with the social media trends of today's consumers, get in touch because we'd love to help.