This article will help you to understand what Social Media Stories are, why they are effective advertising tools, and how to use them to your advantage.
What are social media Stories?
Social media stories are short videos, no more than fifteen seconds long which only last and can only be viewed for 24 hours once posted. They sit at the top of your newsfeed and once clicked, they play in a full-screen and vertical format.
Once a viewer starts watching a social media Story, all of the Stories of the people they follow, as well as advertising Stories, will play automatically until there are no more left to watch.
Stories can be one-off videos up to fifteen seconds, or they can be videos which run across into multiple Stories in order to get across a longer message.
How long have they been available?
When Snapchat introduced Snapchat Stories in 2013, they transformed the face of social media and opened up a new way for followers to communicate with one another.
More recently, other social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook have followed suit and launched Stories as part of their platforms.
Leading brands quickly recognised the potential of Stories in targeting and reaching consumers. However, smaller brands and individuals should also not underestimate this potential.
You could think of adverts in social media stories as being similar to a TV or radio advert that comes between scheduled programming. Advertising Stories will appear integrated with the Stories of friends and people you follow.
However, currently viewers are able to skip advertising Stories by pressing on the screen. This means that the most effective advertising Stories are ones that grab the viewers’ attention and convince them not to click away.
Why are social media stories effective advertising tools?
Brands have quickly realised that Stories are an effective way to get their content in front of viewers in a new, interesting and far more immersive way than ever before.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook gave a statement about the impact of Stories and advertising:
"The growth of Stories will have an impact on how we build products and think about our business, including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are the #1 and #2 most-used Stories products in the world. "
Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Results Conference Call January 31st, 2018
Firstly, Stories are able to be effective because of their popularity - the sheer amount of social media users who engage with them. According to a ClickZ report in 2018, There are currently more than 300 million daily stories users on Instagram, which accounts for 60% of its audience. This number climbs to 81% in the case of Snapchat users.
Secondly, Stories are effective due to the way they put forward their content. Stories are short videos which break messages down into easily digestible pieces.
An article from The Telegraph puts the average human attention span at eight seconds long. Social media Stories tap into this by utilising short-form content in order to hold the attention of the viewer. They operate at an advantage to traditional advertising such as TV or radio ads which tend to be longer, and which often lose the attention of viewers before the end of the ad.
Lastly, Stories are able to be so effective due to the immersive way in which they reach the consumer. Brand stories are integrated with the Stories of other friends on social media. This means that brands are able to more seamlessly integrate their messages into daily life. They can also be targeted to the individual interests of the viewer, which makes them more personal.
So, how can you use social media Stories to your advantage within your marketing and advertising?
How can you use social media Stories effectively?
1. Understand the Rules
Videos cannot be more than fifteen seconds and you are not able to crop videos after they have been uploaded. However, you can use apps that trim longer videos into fifteen-second clips in order to upload the video across multiple Stories. However, bear in mind that the more Stories you post in one go, the less likely you are to hold the attention span of the viewer.
You should also make sure that any images or videos used are high-quality and have the right attributions. Facebook recommends that any images have a 1080 x 1920 resolution and a 9:16 aspect ratio. Any videos should have at least 720p resolution and should be in .MOV, .MP4 or .GIF format. They should also be less than 2.3GB in size. (Single Grain 2017)
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the rules as well as how to upload social media stories to Facebook, visit this handy guide to Instagram Story rules.
2. Understand your customers
You should use avatar customer profiling and research to understand your current and target customers. This will give your Story the best conversion rate possible.
By using customer avatars, you can find out
- Your customers’ needs or desires
- Their frustrations or pain points
- The sorts of messaging they respond to
You can then use this information to target your stories and engage relevant viewers more successfully.
To find out more about this subject, take a look at our article on how to create buyer personas.
3. Get your message across quickly
We’ve already established that the average attention span is eight seconds.
This means that any music, videos or pictures should be interesting, easily understandable and attention-grabbing to ensure that viewers do not click away before the end of the ad.
You should make sure that any content in your brand Story is eye-catching and encourages viewers not to click away.
4. Use message enhancers
Stories by nature are usually in a picture of video format. This means that there will not be room for a great deal of text.
However, you should also use enhancers to these formats in order to make sure your message is taken in. For example, studies show that Stories with music achieved 60% higher viewing rates than those with dialogue alone.
5. Take advantage of interactivity
You should always bear in mind that the ultimate goal of an ad Story is conversion. Therefore you should always make it clear how the consumer can interact with the ad if they wish to.
Have a clear call to action, usually a ‘swipe up’ in the case of stories, or have some kind of interactive feature such as a Story poll which allows users to give their opinions and feedback.
6. Be consistent with your brand
There's no point posting content or information just for the sake of it. Users and potential customers can very quickly identify and eliminate brands who post irrelevant or inconsistent content.
You should use social media Stories to complement, not break free from your brand. Make sure any content you're posting on Stories is consistent with your core messaging.
How can we help?
For more advice on how to use Stories to your advantage or to find out how we can help you to grow your business, why not click here to book a a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation with one of our experts?