Whether you are a seasoned pro with social media, an emerging novice or even a humble beginner, you will have likely heard of Stories. And I'm not talking about the overarching story of your brand. I'm talking about the feature that has spread to nearly all the major social networks. (Except Twitter. But let's be honest: Twitter does what Twitter does. Pay no mind.) And the latest network to join the party?
I'll admit that I was confused why Facebook would want their own Stories when Instagram Stories were working just fine. My confusion, however, didn't matter much - because my "why?" turned into "how?". I started thinking about why Stories have been an important feature for Snapchat, Instagram and now Facebook. There is something about Stories that people like. If we didn't like them, we wouldn't use them.
In this post, I want to explore why Stories have become so popular and how you can use them effective to market your creative business. Let's dive in.
The Birth Of Stories
I believe Stories began during the dawn of Snapchat. The idea of the ephemeral photo sharing app was birthed in 2011 at Standford University. (What's with social networks and Ivy League schools, eh?) And as a user of the platform, you could send photos to your friends or your could post them to your Story and everyone could view them.
Meanwhile, Facebook was busy gobbling up all the small social platforms and making rain with them, caught wind off Snapchat's success and decided that its own image-sharing network, Instagram, would not just replicate this feature, but one-up it. (Because Facebook is in the business of one-upping everyone.) And as Snapchat added filters and stickers, Instagram added filters and stickers. As Instagram added the ability to upload photos from your phone's camera, so did Snapchat. And soon Instagram added Stories to its Explore tab, which is similar to Snpchat's Discover.
It was a beautiful display of competition.
And then Facebook decided that it didn't have a big enough piece of the Story pie, so it built its OWN version of Stories. Facebook users can do all the things that Instagram users can do and many things that Snapchat users can do.
Full disclosure: this is my version of events, written to tell a slightly cheeky story.
So now with three of the major social networks developing Stories features, small businesses better pay attention. Your audience is likely using these. With the exception of Facebook (Stories aren't available for brands yet), it is easy to incorporate this feature into your marketing strategy. Let's look at a few ways to use Stories to connect with your people.
A Day in the Life
One of the most powerful features of Stories is that it gives brands the opportunity to give its audience a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day operations of the company. For example, let's say you are an artist and you make hand-lettered cards. You might post your creative process on Instagram or Snapchat Stories. And if you want to share this with your Facebook friends, post it there, too. Or you might post seemingly mundane things like your morning coffee. This behind-the-scenes look at what you do allows you to connect more intimately with your audience.
Make It An Editorial Platform
One of the things I do with Instagram Stories is I post snippets of my blog posts. For example, I published a blog post on five business processes you should automate. Throughout the day, I talked about each process and why it is important to automate it.
Create A Flash Sale
Show your audience your product or service and offer a discount as a reward for engaging with your Story. For example, let's say you have a knitting business and you sell various knitting patterns. You could offer a 10% discount for anybody who uses the code InstaKnit10. The kicker: only those who see the Story and use the code will reap the reward. This will also give you some awesome data on the performance of your Stories.
Launch A New Product Or Service
Stories are a great way to announce a new product or service. It's a real, raw, unedited, unfiltered announcement. The excitement around the launch is palpable and personal. Think about how you feel when your best friend tells you something exciting. You FEEL it. Tell your audience (with your face and not just your words) about what's new and exciting in your company.
Take It Over
One of fastest ways to grow your Instagram following is to take over another account's Instagram. For example, I am located in Calgary, so if I wanted to grow my following quickly, I would simply apply to take over larger accounts such as @yycnow and @capturecalgary. If you are a blogger, think about reaching out to brands to take over their accounts. Reversely, if you are a brand, think about asking bloggers to take over your account to extend your organic reach to a new audience.
Stories have come a long way, but I think there are always rooms for improvements. As this feature develops, I hope to see clickable links (available to select brands only on Instagram and Stories for Facebook Pages.
And if you're feeling a bit uninspired about your own Story, check out these 10 brands killing it.
Do you need help with Instagram or Facebook? Contact me for a FREE consultation.