- 1. Definition
- 2. General information
- 3. Advantages
- 4. Disadvantages
- 5. Instagram Stories Ads
- 6. Instagram Stories and influencer marketing
- 7. Best Practices
Table of contents
Instagram Stories is a feature found on the Instagram platform that allows users to share photos and videos for a 24-hour period, after which they are removed from the system and thus cannot be viewed anymore. These 24-hour stories never appear on any of the user’s Instagram feeds or profile grids directly but instead appear as a ring next to the sender’s profile picture on their profile page or as a profile pic next to a shared photo or video on a follower’s feed. The follower can choose to view the story by tapping the ring or the sender’s profile picture.
As Instagram is widely recognized as the leading social media platform for sharing high-quality photos and videos, well-known influencers have used many of the platform’s features as a means to engage, inform, and promote to their followers. With the platform’s Stories feature, influencers can now engage their followers further by describing in deeper depth the message behind the photos and videos they send increasing Instagram’s influencer marketing capabilities.
Instagram Stories was launched in August 2016. Originally, the feature resembled SnapChat’s short-term sharing capabilities allowing users to add photos, videos, as well as effects and layers to a story but since that time the platform has added many upgrades, some of which can be seen below.
- Live Vanishing Videos: Videos can be broadcasted live and vanish right after they have ended.
- Skippable Ads: 15-second video ads & 5-second photos appear in between stories.
- Augmented Reality Stickers: Face filters can be accessed to add or enhance visual features on a user’s face.
- Target Locations: Particular stories can appear solely on a specific business, landmark or Instagram specific-location page.
- Story Search: Users can search for keyword-related stories that have not vanished from the system yet.
- Story Responses: Users have the ability to respond to Stories through hashtags, stickers, & filters.
- Mobile/Desktop Friendly: Instagram Stories can be viewed through any of the platform’s mobile or desktop websites.
Instagram has been criticized in the past for the similarity of its Stories with SnapChat. Yet, the company has stated that the platform was designed to incorporate many popular features from other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Hipstamatic to bring multi-functionality to its users under one roof.
As Instagram continues to upgrade its Stories, its capabilities now offer a variety of functions not found on any other feature within any other social media platform.
With the ability to access over 300 million Instagram users on a daily basis, Instagram Stories has the obvious benefit of being able to market to a wide range of demographics, keywords, and interests, and that too with live chat and streaming capabilities.
Some more added advantages to using Stories, as far as influencer marketing is concerned, is as follows:
- Higher Engagement & Conversions: Influencers can use Stories to not only repurpose their pics and videos but to also deliver a more detailed and in-depth message as there is no limit to the length of a story like there is with traditional Instagram in-feed content.
- Authentic: Another benefit with Stories is that they don’t have to be as formal as regular feed content and instead can naturally reflect an influencer’s real personality which truly resonates with followers, which has been proven to increase engagement and trust.
- Large Audience: While SnapChat’s platform has been around longer than Stories has, Instagram still has a bigger audience, which can be extremely beneficial for influencers who want to grow their following.
- Easy Management: Stories are a relatively easy influencer management tool as well since they disappear after a 24-hour period. No filing, no fuss. What is more, they don’t appear in a user’s feed but instead only appear as a ring option in the sender’s profile pic, which can be tapped on or ignored. A feature that ruly coincides with permission marketing, a form of marketing that leaves the choice to be marketed to with the prospect or customer.
- Hide Features: Influencers have the ability to show their stories to particular followers, ones they know will benefit the most from them. This limits the possibility of upsetting some followers who do not want to hear that side of the person and personalize messages to those who do.
- Augmented Reality: Influencers can get funny, cooky, and cool with the augmented reality features which can do quite a makeover on their pics, specifically the faces within their pics.
There are Pros and Cons to every tool or app, especially when it is used for marketing purposes, and so it is with Instagram Stories. While Stories features a lot of Pros, there are some downsides to using it, which can be seen in the list below:
- Time Limit: Sometimes a story is worth more than just a regular old pic and therefore when that story goes bye-bye after 24 hours, it can not be saved or repurposed for upcoming campaigns. In this case, the boon of having a short-life span becomes a crutch.
- Too Flexible: As an influencer can be more laid back with Stories then they can with their Instagram Feeds, they might go too far with their messages and end up offending the very same people who they are trying to flatter.
- Constant Development: It is great that Instagram continues to develop their Stories capabilities to differentiate them from other similar platforms but the constant additions may become a bit too overwhelming for users and negatively affect their influencer management strategy.
Instagram Stories Ads
As with all other social media platforms, Stories also provides paid ads, which are a great way to increase followers. The difference between Stories Ads and other ads on other platforms is that they only last between 10 to 15 seconds (10 for photos & 15 for videos). This may seem like too short of a time to get one’s point across but savvy marketers with eye-catching pictures and clear-messaging can capture a viewers attention in that span of time. The best part is that interested parties only have 10-15 seconds to make a decision, which brings time scarcity into the equation and so increases action-time.
Instagram Stories and influencer marketing
Recently, brands start putting the requirement for Instagram Stories on the negotiation table with influencers due to the increase in its popularity and usage all over the world. There are a lot of added features to Stories that make it an ideal tool for influencers to engage with their followers as well as promote brand products. These features have the ability to increase engagement, traffic, leads, and ultimately conversions. The main features within Instagram Story that can achieve these results are polls, links, Call-To-Actions (CTAs), and Story Ads.
- Polls: Influencers have found that one of the best ways to engage their audience is through polls. What separates Stories’ polls from other platform polls is that there is a time limit to complete them, which increases engagement even more.
- Links: With Stories an influencer can tag and link to a specific site using a scroll-up feature. This is unique to Stories as no other social media platform provides this conversion upgrade within their content messaging system.
- CTAs: Stories allows users to text overlay Call-To-Actions right into their content so that the recipient will not miss what action they should take. The actual CTA is on the bottom of the screen but with the overlay feature, it becomes more visible.
The drawback of Instagram Stories is, however, that all stories will be vanished after 24 hours (except the Featured Stories). Therefore, the lifetime value of a story is much less and harder to be calculated in comparison with a traditional post. Most of the current influencer marketing platforms are unable to collect and analyze the data of every Instagram Stories in real time, which may cause inaccuracy while evaluating the performance of influencer marketing campaign using metrics such as Reach, Engagement, Earned Media Value or Media Value Per Post. Thus, marketers are suggested to negotiate about the metrics to evaluate Instagram Stories performance with influencers as well as the possibility to request information from the influencers about their Stories' results.
If an influencer wants their Instagram account to reach its full potential, Stories should be included in their influencer marketing campaign. And if they want to create both attractive and informative Instagram Stories, there are some basic guides as well as good practices that should be followed.
The following best practices should be used when employing both organic and paid stories to achieve above-average results from either campaign.
- Stay Loose: The entire point of Stories is to be more natural and less formal. If the Story is too tight, rigid, professional, or spammy it will fail to produce its desired effect and the recipient will most likely never tap on the ring notification the next time a story is sent out.
- Use Stickers: To expand on a message in a stylistic fashion, use stickers in your Stories. Stories Stickers come in 4 distinctive forms: Hashtag, Location, Poll & Emoji.
- Live Streaming: Live video is the marketing method of the future as it is known to increase both interest and engagement better than any other marketing method to date. Since live-streaming also allows live chat, it is a good idea to use this feature within to increase engagement and audience retention. Followers will receive a notification once the live stream is about to begin.
- Use Video: If a picture tells a thousand words, then a video tells a million. Images are easier to produce and edit than videos but videos increase storytelling, which is the whole purpose of Stories anyway. Your Stories should be split between photos and videos to increase maximum effectiveness.
- Check Insights: To increase marketing effectiveness, tracking and analyzing data is a must. Stories performance can be seen on Instagram’s Native Insights platform under “Content”. Here an influencer can see which content their followers are viewing and engaging with the most, thus helping them choose more relevant content for future campaigns.