In 2013, Snapchat took the social media world by storm with the launch of its defining 24-hour stories feature. It wasn’t long before Instagram and Facebook jumped on the bandwagon to offer their own monetisable versions of ephemeral, Snapchat-style stories.
Social media stories group together a set of images or videos, which are played in chronological order before expiring after 24 hours. Stories are displayed at the very top of Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds, which makes for eye-catching and easily-accessible pieces of content from the moment a user first opens the app.
Read on to find out why 24-hour social media stories became so popular, and how brands have successfully used the feature to engage followers, increase website traffic, increase sales or generate feedback.
Why Did 24-hour Stories Become So Popular?
Although the appeal of Snapchat’s ephemeral photo stories was in full swing well before Instagram and Facebook used the concept for their own platform, it really grew in popularity among the Gen Z and younger millennial user base. Older users liked it too, but for the most part, they found the app’s interface to be confusing and opted to remain in familiar territory of Instagram and Facebook’s platform.
Instagram Stories launched in 2017 and swiftly grew in popularity. Just five months after its launch, 150 million people were using it every day.With 600 million monthly active accounts using Instagram Stories, doubling that of Snapchat, it wasn’t long before Instagram launched Stories adverts to allow brands to promote themselves and expand their reach. This help Instagram to generate a huge amount of revenue for its parent company, Facebook.
Facebook actually launched their Stories platform before Instagram, in August 2016. And their potential to monetise was even greater. Facebook has over 2.2 billion monthly active users worldwide. And they also have a broader demographic than the likes of Snapchat or Instagram.
That said, many speculated whether or not Facebook stories would take off due to their decreasing engagement rate. But those critics were quickly pushed to one side. Facebook stories now have over 500 million daily users. The social media giant also recently announced that over 3 million advertisers purchased stories ads across the platform’s family of apps.
Although Snapchat continues to reign supreme among Gen Z and millennial users, the platform does not embrace brands the way Instagram and Facebook do by making it easy for users to follow them and like their posts.
There are no heart icons for people to express their approval or disapproval on Snapchat, and it’s harder to follow accounts because users have to know the exact names to find them. Instagram and Facebook makes searching easier and allows brands to purchase ads that directly link to their accounts, where people can follow them.
Why 24-hour Stories Dominate Social Media
Stories offer a great outlet for influencers, entrepreneurs and SMEs to broadcast important announcements, promote flash sales and discount codes or offer exclusive content to engage their followers.
Nike reportedly generated a massive 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram story on the first day that the feature was made available. While brands with a huge number of followers may seem to have the upper hand, smaller brands are also reaping the benefits of 24-hour stories. In fact, research shows that small businesses have boosted engagement by 20% when hosting an employee or influencer on their Instagram stories.
Stories are very prominent and positioned at the top of both Facebook and Instagram’s app pages, which means followers don’t have to scroll through news feeds to find your content. These posts also take less time and resources to plan and execute, resulting in a more efficient and cost-effective way to deliver a steady stream of content to followers. The visual appeal and spontaneity of stories also make them significantly more memorable than a traditional status update. The tagging function in Instagram stories also allows you to partner with influencers and spread your key messages even further.
Stories also tend to be more authentic in presentation, which is so important in today’s digital climate where just 34% of consumers trust the brands they use and purchase from. By giving followers a sneak peek into your workday to showcase the atmosphere at your office preview how your products are prepared, you will humanise your brand—showing fans that you’re not a robot while giving them the sense they’re part of something bigger.
How Brands Maximise 24-hour Stories on Social Media Promote User-generated Content
Because stories are essentially limited editions of hyped content, these posts foster a sense of urgency to participate in the buzz (otherwise known as FOMO). This is particularly true when broadcasting announcements that tie into specific days of interest or events.
Taco Bell got users talking with the launch of a dedicated taco filter for Cinco de Mayo. The filter was subsequently viewed 224 million times on Snapchat and generated a significant level of engagement for the brand over the course of just 24 hours.
The average user played with Taco Bell’s ad for 24 seconds before sending it as a ‘snap’. According to Snapchat, the campaign generated 12.5 years’ worth of play in just one day.
Millions of people shared a snap of themselves using the filter, or put it on their story – which more than likely was viewed by each follower that person has on Snapchat. So add all those views together and who knows where that number would be. Snapchat users aren’t just watching Taco Bell’s content – they’re also engaging with and sharing the content, making it more likely to be remembered.
Engage Followers With Authentic Behind-the-scenes Content
Brands can also use stories to show a raw and chronological narrative of how things unfold over a given twenty-four hour period. Done well, this can be extremely effective, particularly when most people really don’t have the time to interact with content throughout the day.
After The Guardian began tracking and analysing its Instagram audience data on a more granular basis in 2018, the news giant discovered that Instagram videos, and specifically stories generated more new followers than static posts.
In a social media platform that’s famed for filtered and aesthetically pleasing visuals, The Guardian remarkably discovered that heavily produced and scripted videos professionally shot in a studio generated less engagement and followers. This, in turn, led the brand to implement a more authentic approach to Instagram story marketing.
The Guardian continues to profit from less labour intensive and more cost-effective story campaigns. For example, its Royal Wedding Instagram coverage, which included a mix of Instagram Stories, and other videos attracted 3,000 more followers within 24 hours, 80 percent of which were new users. At the time, The Guardian Instagram account typically added between 500 and 1,000 new followers per day, according to the publisher.
Stories to Boost Sales and Generate Customer Feedback
Although the number of brands using Facebook stories is still relatively low in comparison to Instagram, many companies are targeting the platform’s large user base with product launches, sales and promotions – all whilst encouraging customers to share their views.
Boutique cake brand Milk Bar began investing in Stories during the 2018 holiday shopping season to engage with their followers and encourage customer feedback via their questions feature. They also also found their Story posts were generating more feedback than their News feed ad.
Additionally, Milk Bar also used Stories to promote their “care package” campaign where they distributed home-baked goods directly to the consumer.
Provide Teasers for Long Form Website Content
Renowned for its breathtaking imagery and commitment to environmental and humanitarian causes, National Geographic has become one of the most popular brands on Instagram with over 120 million followers.
The publisher uses stories to educate its followers through the use of beautiful photos and videos. But their stories don’t start and finish on on Instagram, though. @NatGeo takes great advantage of the ability to “swipe up” on Stories, which sends users on to more in-depth reporting and articles on its website.
This is one of the most potent differentiators between Stories and regular Instagram posts. As of now, you cannot create a call to action or “next step” from a regular Instagram post. Each Story post can have its own “swipe up” destination, which creates even more opportunities for brands to engage with customers.
By leveraging beautiful and exclusive imagery, National Geographic uses its resources in an economic way while also promoting long-form content that goes into more detail than the story does and drives traffic to its website.
Having access to the ‘swipe up’ feature in Instagram stories can work wonders for driving traffic and sales to your website or blog. This feature is currently only available to Instagram business accounts with over 10,000 followers or verified accounts.
What to Consider Before Posting Your Next 24-hour Story
Thanks to 24-hour stories’, many features, from live video, linking functions, and polls, there are many ways to engage your audience and keep them hooked on your brand. As you continue to develop and grow your brand, you must also continue to experiment and learn how to best leverage the features to help you achieve your social media objectives.
Find out more about how to create Instagram stories that captivate here.