Today we are going to focus on social media Stories.
Specifically, we are going to look at:
- What Stories are
- Why you should incorporate Stories into your marketing campaigns
- Which social networks you need to focus on.
- How you can use Stories to boost your campaigns.
- What types of content you should post to your stories
If that sounds like the kind of information you were looking for, let’s get started!
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Over a billion users can’t be wrong
Stories are a big deal.
Over a billion Stories are shared daily across Meta’s products;
That’s just shy of the entire population of the United States and Europe combined.
With an unprecedented amount of attention being focused on the platform, this creates an excellent opportunity for marketers and advertisers.
67% of Instagram users have swiped up on the links of branded Stories, and one-third of the most viewed Instagram Stories are from businesses.
Gap incorporated video-based stories into their marketing campaigns on Instagram:
By doing so they recorded a:
- 73% increase in their campaign click-through rates.
- 17-point rise in ad recall by targeted customers.
- 4-point increase in message association.
These numbers are far beyond what other social media content types offer. There’s never been a better time to focus on Stories in your marketing strategy.
Before we get into how you can use social media Stories, let’s first take a closer look at what they are and where you can use them.
What are stories?
Stories focus on the storytelling aspect of social media. They allow you to use photos, videos, text, emoticons, and tags to create short-form content.
They are typically:
- Uploaded from mobile devices.
- Only visible on mobile devices.
- Recorded in a vertical format.
- Set to expire after 24 hours.
The Story section of a social media app is most often displayed at the top of a screen with circular images displayed in a line with a colored circle surrounding them. Like this:
Why you should incorporate Stories into your marketing strategy
Stories may seem like just another fad in the ever-changing digital marketing landscape, but they’ve been proven to be incredibly effective. They’ve stood the test of time, and offer several different benefits to your business. Here are five reasons you should incorporate them into your marketing strategy this year:
Stories on social media platforms often receive higher engagement rates compared to regular posts. This is partly because you don’t need to compete with millions of posts for your Stories to be seen, as they often have a dedicated location right at the top of the app.
Additionally, this case study by Chobani revealed that using Stories led to a 6.4-point lift in ad recall, 1.9-point lift in message association, and 3.3-point lift in consideration. By using social media stories, you can increase engagement and reach a wider audience.
They feel more organic
Traditional advertising methods can often feel forced or inauthentic. In contrast, social media stories can feel more organic and relatable, by revealing the faces and stories behind the brand. Through this, you can show your audience that your brand is more than just a corporate machine — it’s a group of real people with relatable experiences.
They help build a narrative
A brand narrative is the story that you tell about your brand, including its values, mission, and history. Stories are a great way to build on your brand narrative by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses, personal stories, and company culture. By showcasing the human side of your brand, you help build a stronger connection with your audience and improve customer loyalty.
They offer a real-time look into the organization’s daily activities
Social media stories are perfect for showcasing the day-to-day activities of your organization. They also offer a real-time look into what’s happening behind your corporate curtain.
This helps your audience feel like they’re an active participant in your organization’s success. This type of content can be especially effective for building trust and transparency with your audience..
You can easily repurpose old content
Stories are an excellent way to reuse old but still relevant content. Rather than spending time and effort creating new content — only for it to disappear after 24 hours — you can reuse and repurpose content you’ve created in the past, saving time and effort in the long run.
With so many benefits, it’s worth considering adding Stories to your marketing toolkit.
What are the best social media platforms for Stories?
Stories are available on a lot of social media networks. However, their features and usage vary from platform to platform. Let’s take a closer look at each of them in detail.
Instagram: The go-to story app
Instagram is the current market leader with 500 million people using their Story feature everyday. That amounts to 70% of their total users.
Here’s an example of how a Story on Instagram looks:
From the Chipotle example above, you can customize and create stories here in different ways.
Some of Instagram’s stand-out features are:
- Shopping: Users can click through to tagged products.
- Polls: Create interactive polls to engage with users.
- Q&A: Giver users a direct-line to ask you questions.
- Hashtags: Connect your stories to topics or locations users follow.
- Lyrics: Add songs and music to your stories.
- Highlights: Save Stories to your profile for viewers to watch after they expire.
All these features allow you to create a unique story from scratch, setting you apart from your competitors.
Snapchat: The original story app
Snapchat was the first social media network to incorporate Stories. According to Snapchat’s 2022 Q4 earnings report, Snapchat currently has 375 million daily active users, with 39% of its users between the ages of 18 – 24. If this is your demographic, Snapchat is the place to be.
Here’s how a Story might look on Snapchat:
Snapchat offers lots of customization options, including:
- Geo-filters: specific filters you can assign to (or use in) a particular location.
- GIFs: add moving images to your stories.
- Time limit: adjust the duration of each Story slide.
It is worth noting that many of these features are available as standard on other Story platforms, while Snapchat offers fewer audience-interaction features.
Facebook: The biggest story app
With over a billion Stories posted on Facebook apps each day and 2.9 billion active users, it is the biggest app for stories.
Facebook stories are especially important as they can be posted from all its sister social networks — Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram. This significantly increases the reach of your stories.
YouTube: Video-focused storytelling
YouTube Stories are a fairly recent feature and are less prevalent on the Youtube app. This is due to YouTube’s renewed focus on Shorts to compete with TikTok. At the time of writing, they’re only open to creators with 10,000+ subscribers.
They have also taken a slightly different approach to the Story format.
- They are video-focused.
- Stories last for seven days.
- They are not only visible on the Subscriptions page of the Creator but also in the user’s feed (on mobile).
Creators seem to agree that they are a great way to connect with your audience and raise awareness about what you do outside of video creation.
They can be especially useful if you have a lot of YouTube subscribers but have struggled to translate that into a social media following.
They also have a lot of video-focused features such as stickers, editing and snipping tools to help you keep your YouTube stories in-line with the other content you create.
WhatsApp: The “secret” story platform
WhatsApp is an often overlooked marketing platform. But, with more business integration, it is becoming a tool brands need to start paying attention to.
If you are a brand already using WhatsApp to connect with customers and close sales, you can use the Status features as a less-direct way to keep in touch.
Here is a video from WhatsApp showing how to use their Status feature:
Status updates can be extremely useful when connecting with customers in the developing world, where WhatsApp is the most popular digital way to communicate.
Best Story ideas for more views and engagement
With over a billion Stories shared across multiple social networks daily, it can be challenging to ensure your Stories remain relevant and engaging. Here are some of the best social media Story ideas to generate more audience views and engagement.
Polls and quizzes
Polls and quizzes are a great way to encourage audience participation and get them to interact with your brand. By creating polls and quizzes that are relevant to your brand or industry, you build a relationship with your audience. This also provides your business with valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and opinions, helping you create more relevant content and product offerings
This type of content is shareable, which means that your followers can share the poll or quiz with their own networks, increasing the reach of your brand.
Make a countdown for an event
Creating a countdown for an upcoming event or launch is a great way to build anticipation and excitement among your followers. This type of content can be shared across multiple social networks, and can include teasers, behind-the-scenes footage, and sneak peeks of what’s to come.
Like movie trailers, event countdowns create a sense of urgency among your followers, which can drive engagement and increase the likelihood of them attending the event.
Host a giveaway contest
Hosting a giveaway contest is a fantastic way to drive engagement and increase the reach of your brand. By creating a contest that requires your followers to share, like, or comment on your posts to enter, you significantly increase your brand’s engagement and reach. You can also partner with other brands or influencers to increase the prize pool and reach a wider audience.
Provide sneak peeks for new products
Sneak peeks are a great way to generate excitement for new products and services. Share behind-the-scenes footage, teasers, and product demos to give your followers a taste of what’s to come. This type of content helps build anticipation and generates buzz around your brand, leading to an increase in sales and revenue.
You can also offer presale offers, generating income even before the product releases.
Incentivize on-the-fence prospects who have considered purchasing from you by announcing a discount on your Stores. By creating posts that announce discounts, promo codes, and limited-time offers, you encourage your followers to take action. This type of content is also shareable, which means that your followers can share the discount with their own networks, increasing the reach of your brand.
Another way to increase the shareability of your content is by offering referral discounts, therefore transforming your audience into your biggest cheerleaders.
Repost user-generated content
Be on the lookout for tags from your followers, as reposting user-generated content is a great way to encourage audience participation. It also showcases your brand’s community and helps build a mutually beneficial relationship with your followers.
All you need to do is repost relevant social media posts and stories that your followers have created, and give them credit for their work. This type of content helps customer loyalty, and encourages them to create more content for your brand.
Best practices to make your social media stories stand out
By now you should have a much better idea of:
- Why stories are important.
- Where they are available.
- How different platforms use them.
In this section, we are going to look at how you can use stories to entertain, engage, and delight your audience.
Keep it upright
Vertical orientation is key to creating engaging stories.
57% of user-generated content is shot vertically and 94% of all mobile phone users hold their phones in the portrait position.
As Loomly’s CEO, Thibaud, eloquently put it:
“Mobile-first now means vertical-first.”
You should create all of your Story content with this vertical view in mind. Think about how you will create your narrative and how to best use the screen real estate that gives you.
Wholefoods Market does this really well using a mix of illustrations & videos:
You can see how the layout and visuals are used to create a narrative that makes sense in the vertical format. Everything is within the edges of the screen and easy to follow along with.
Start and end with your brand message
When planning your Story’s narrative, be sure to start and end with your brand. This helps users recognize who the message is from and leaves them with a lasting impression.
This can be done by including:
- Your logo
- Brand-relevant hashtags
- Relevant tags
In the first and final slide of your Story. Or, if you have a call to action, in the second-to-last slide.
Here is a Story example we created with Loomly to illustrate this:
Doing this can be powerful because people are often mindlessly skipping through updates. So, having a slide to introduce your brand can create a separation between your post and others.
Use high-quality creative elements
How your Story looks and feels can make or break it. Despite social media’s more relaxed reputation, quality, and presentation are still important.
According to this Westwood One research, creatives is responsible for 47% of sales lift. Creatives refer to assets such as:
The average social media user is bombarded with 6,000 to 10,000 ads daily. Therefore, it’s important that brands invest in high-quality creatives to increase brand recall and overall impact..
Here is a great example by AFEW STORE x Nike:
Now, it is important to remember that high quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or complicated. Budget-conscious brands can still make great stories using tools like Canva and Unsplash.
The creative here is high quality without being complex or breaking the bank.
But, if you do have money to invest in designers and improving the quality of your creative, then we highly recommend that you do.
Create contrast between your slides
Breaking up your narrative arc can help you to hold attention and keep people engaged.
An easy way to do this is to create contrast between each of your slides, and break down stories — whether video or image-based — into standalone slides.
Daniel Wellington, the Swiss watchmaker, does this superbly in their Stories by using contrasting images that carry the narrative arc forward:
These images all feel like they belong to the same brand, but they do a great job of standing out on their own and grabbing the attention of someone flicking through.
Build and maintain momentum
Stories are immersive, interactive and… quick! One of the most important factors in meeting user’s expectations is offering snappy and compelling Stories that sustain the viewer’s attention.
Consistency is also very important when it comes to building and maintaining momentum with your social media Stories. Have a regular content calendar for your social media posts. Also ensure that your content remains consistent regarding tone, style, and branding. This helps your audience recognize your brand and builds trust and familiarity.
A brand who is doing this superbly is Airbnb, showcasing their adventures in Story:
Another great way of building momentum on social media is by using hashtags. They make it easier for users to find your content, and they can help you reach a wider audience. Use relevant hashtags in your posts, and consider creating a branded hashtag for your business.
Don’t spam with stickers
Stickers can be used to create cool effects in your Story. They also add a level of engagement when you use polls or sliders users can interact with.
But using too many of them can hurt your Story and cause people to switch off. So, instead, look for innovative and exciting ways to work them into your slides.
The key here is to use stickers that are relevant and fit with the context of your post. If it feels forced or looks like a bad Cyberpunk movie, then users will lose interest.
Create a strong call to action
When you have created an entertaining, informative, and enjoyable Story for your audience, don’t be shy about adding a clear Call to Action (CTA) at the end of it.
The name of the game here is interaction. So, provide a relevant link that expands on what the user has just read and keep people engaged with your brand (or products) a little longer.
Glossier is mastering the art of the bold CTA in this Story:
If you are doing this on Instagram you can save these Stories as highlights, so this content will be accessible to people in the future too!
Test, test, and test some more!
The underlying principles of all social media are to:
- Generate ideas
- Create updates
- Test them
- Digest the data
This is especially true for Story-based content. Although Stories have been around a while, the jury is still out on what the “perfect” formula is.
What might work for our audience may not work for your audience. And, you need to experiment and test to see what the users you care about are responding to.
If you want to learn more about testing and analytics, check out our guide here.
Bonus: think outside of the (story) box
At Loomly, we love it when creatives blend with their support instead of being constrained by them.
In a previous post for Social Media Today, Loomly’s CEO, Thibaud mentioned how Netflix used Instagram Stories to offer free show-themed wallpapers to their followers. He also discussed how Decathlon had created a Street Fighter-like tap-and-play video game in their highlights.
For more information about social media, check out this blog post about the top 10 books every successful social media manager needs to read.
Create stories and story ads with Loomly
You want to add Stories to your social media publishing schedule, but you do not want the hassle of adding another complex workflow.
Well, we listened to this problem, and we came up with three solutions for you.
First, you can create animated Stories from static assets, in just a few clicks from your Library:
Second, you can create, preview, and approve Instagram Stories in Post Builder, right from the same interface you already know and love:
Simply select the “Stories” option from our Post Builder, and your complete Story will be posted at the click of a button! No messy workflows or smartphones needed.
Finally, if you want to create Instagram Story Ads, Loomly Ads Manager & Loomly Studio have you covered:
All three features are active for all existing Loomly customers. Register today to start your 15-day FREE trial.
Social media stories in a nutshell
Over one billion people around the world every day use social media Stories.
They allow you to tell epic brand stories using video, images, stickers, and text. You can use them to connect with users on:
When you are creating Stories, it pays to stick to our seven commandments that are tried, tested, and confirmed by staff at Facebook’s F8 conference. They are:
- Keep it upright: Create your stories in the vertical format.
- Start and end with your brand: Open and close with brand messaging.
- Use high-quality elements: The better the creative, the higher the sales.
- Create contrast: Use color and angles to make individual slides stand out.
- Build & maintain momentum: Offer snappy content to sustain the viewer’s attention.
- Do not spam with stickers: Make them blend in and look natural.
- Use a call to action: Continue the conversation with a link to your content or products.
- Test everything: Look at the data and use what you find to create better Stories.