The Story Behind the Stories

Snapchat pioneered Stories. Then Instagram followed. And now Facebook has jumped on board.

The basic functionality of Stories is the same across all three social networks. Users compile photos and short videos – enhancing them with filters, text, drawings and other tools if desired – into a slideshow that is viewable for 24 hours, and then disappears. 

When Instagram launched Stories last August, CEO Kevin Systrom didn’t shy away from the inspirational role Snapchat had played, saying, “They deserve all the credit.” But regardless of which app was first on the scene, Instagram Stories have been a runaway hit, reaching 150 million daily users in January. Due to this success, Instagram started integrating five-second and 15-second video ads into Stories.

Late last month, Facebook opened up Facebook Camera to global users, which allows users to apply Snapchat-like visual effects to photos and videos, and share them in Stories via newsfeed and direct private messages. So far, some critics have responded with eye-rolling tweets about the copycat features, and accusations that Facebook Stories are a ghost town. But it’s still too early to tell if Facebook Stories are dead on arrival, or will soon hit their stride. There’s always a degree of imitation and cross-pollination among social networks, and Stories could simply become part of the norm, like newsfeeds.

What Do Stories Mean for Marketers?

Stories are already an integral part of Snapchat and Instagram, and may be here to stay on Facebook, so it’s worthwhile to get familiar with them.

If you’re using these networks in your marketing strategy, experiment with creating Stories that fit your brand and audience. Have fun with them. The great thing about Stories is that they’re designed to be impermanent – so don’t stress too much about making them perfect. They will be gone in 24 hours anyway.

Don’t feel like you need to need to go all in on Stories for all three platforms, though. You can start with one network you use frequently, and see if branching out makes sense. Track engagement, and invest your time in what your audience responds to.

Learn more about MtoM’s social media marketing expertise.

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