The Growing Popularity of "Stories" for Social Media

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

The Growing Popularity of "Stories" for Social Media

Barely seven years ago, Snapchat introduced the world to a new method of posting content using a smartphone called “Stories.” Stories were an easy way to mix together photos or graphics and short videos that could be embellished with stickers like smileys, suns and stars, filters, drawings and text. In addition to this being easy to publish, Stories disappeared after 24 hours, something that shocked and puzzled many marketers who were used to more permanent and archived content online.

About five years later, Facebook jumped on the Stories bandwagon and added a nearly exact copy to Instagram, an app they own. Suddenly Stories was hot, and Instagram Stories quickly surpassed Snapchat Stories in terms of number of users. Then Facebook added Stories to its own platform. While Stories still disappear in 24 hours, you can now download and save your stories to your smartphone. Any downloaded Story file can be used on other social networks as images, videos or multimedia compilations.

Today, social media marketers are proclaiming that the multimedia format of Stories is the new way to publish content online. No longer are photos or videos interesting or engaging enough. Now, the most popular social networks encourage you to combine your photos and videos along with the visual add-ons and publish them to your Story feed instead of your News feed. Sure, you can still post to your News feed, but that’s so 2016.

Because of the wider adoption of Stories as a format, your company should consider publishing to Stories. Here are some tips to use Stories effectively:

  1. Alternate between photos and videos. Stories are more captivating when you have a few images then break it up with a video or vice versa. Take advantage of the automatic and seamless merging of both formats into your Story.
  2. Go for different angles. Even if you are posting several consecutive images or videos, change your angle of viewpoint to create more visual interest.
  3. Be strategic with stickers. Just because you can post a lot of stickers on your image or video doesn’t mean you should. Pick and choose what you add to your visuals so they enhance your message, not detract.
  4. Add a link to your images/Snaps. On both Instagram and Snapchat, you can add links to your posts. Adding links can help drive traffic to another site. Make sure that site is mobile friendly.
  5. Post both planned and spontaneous Stories. Some Stories require advanced planning that could even include storyboarding out the shots. A product demonstration or behind-the-scenes tour are good examples of something that requires a plan. Stories are also perfect for on-the-fly posting such as from live events like conferences, trade shows and workshops.

On Instagram, your followers can now share your Stories with their followers so there is even more incentive to start creating and publishing Stories. You social media marketing tactics will be more effective when you understand how your customers and prospects are using popular social networks and how they prefer to communicate and the kind of content they like. The Stories format is transforming digital communications, and your company can reach a captive audience when you publish in a more interactive way.