Snapchat was released in September of 2011, only eleven months after Instagram’s release. In August of 2016, Instagram launched what was labelled as a “Snapchat rip-off” – their own Instagram Stories feature. Since Snapchat’s release, the popularity of the app surged, with 20 million photos being shared per day using the app by late 2012 and 166 million daily active users on the platform by May of 2017. Instagram’s decision to replicate the real-time photo sharing feature of Snapchat proved to be a smart move, proven by statistics from Buffer that show that, as of August 2017, Instagram has 250 million daily Instagram Stories users with 400 million daily users and 700 million monthly active Instagram users, whereas Snapchat has 173 million daily users. Unfortunately, replicating the success of stories wasn’t as much of a success story for every platform, as evidenced by Facebook, where the feature failed terribly, despite the social media network’s impressive 2.13 billion monthly active users. Regardless of the fact that copying the stories concept across different platforms has not always been successful, the rush to try and integrate stories onto multiple platforms, and the success it has yielded for Instagram, shows that stories are a powerful tool for reaching your audience as a business or organisation.
Stories are a brilliant opportunity for marketing, given their popularity, and there are ample reasons beyond just their popularity that your business should be using stories – particularly Instagram Stories. Like most social media platforms, using Instagram and its features is completely free, so making the most of this free tool is an ideal way to digitally market your business. Instagram and Instagram Stories also allow you to reach new audiences through the location-based story feature, it allows you to connect with your audience on another level and provides ‘constant touches’ where they can see your business through the day in real time.
Since Snapchat was first released, there have been lots of advancements to Stories, most of which have come from Instagram, through being able to go live and then go live with a partner in a separate location, streaming video in real-time, filters, GIF stickers and Instagram Story Highlights. Not all advancements that have sprung from stories have been successful, as evidenced by Snapchat’s failed attempts at launching physical camera products such as their wearable glasses camera, ‘Spectacles’.
The popularity of stories now is undeniable, so much so that Genius, the popular website and app that gives insight into song lyrics and their meanings, has created their own music-centric version, appropriately called ‘Song Stories’. The stories are comprised of multiple slides that give insight into a song’s meaning, including video clips of the artists and a multiple-choice quiz at the end of the story. Their size and shape is optimised for mobile devices, which proves that more and more people access the internet through their smartphones and mobile optimisation is something that can’t be ignored.
The growth in interest stories have experienced and their success on certain platforms shows an audience desire to be able to connect with those they follow in real time and their preference for mobile devices. The interactivity of quizzes and videos that Genius’ song stories bring also demonstrates that audiences want content that they can engage and get involved with. To keep up with your audience, be sure to utilise the connection to your audience that stories facilitate, keep them interest with interactivity and mobile optimise as much of your content and website as possible.