In June, Instagram tallied over 1 Billion monthly active users. For comparison, that’s more than 3x as many monthly users as Snapchat and over 15x as many monthly users as Periscope.
Combined with Instagram’s ease of use and unique focus on aesthetic content, it’s no wonder why brands are flocking to this social titan. But, while brands are increasingly active on Instagram, many still fail to utilize one of its strongest channels: Stories.
So, What’s An Instagram Story Anyways?
Stories are a feature introduced in 2016 that feels a lot like Snapchat, letting users post vertical photos or videos that vanish after 24 hours. By nature, this feature adds a level of real-time engagement, driving customers and fans to interact with immediacy and keeping them coming back day after day.
Unlike content posted to your profile, there are no Likes or public comments with Instagram Stories. Instagram users can only respond by sending a private message to your Instagram account. This presents the unique ability to solicit feedback, conduct polling, and interact with your audience in a more intimate way than public posting in other formats or on other platforms.
Pro Tip: Because of their very short lifecycle, Stories offer great ways to try out new or unique brand content while soliciting private feedback.
Instagram Stories also have flexible privacy settings, meaning you can exclude specific customers from seeing your Instagram Stories, even if they follow you. This feature gives your brand an opportunity to test marketing content before making it a part of your archived brand profile for all to see.
So Why Aren’t Brands Jumping On Board?
Like the entrance of any new marketing innovation, big brands are often reluctant to jump on board early, making unplanned shifts in their strategies. Most large marketing teams operate best with structured production and a known, measurable outcome. A new marketing channel like Instagram Stories isn’t likely to fit into that model…yet.
And given their intimate nature, Stories can appear more candid than other more heavily produced social media content. This makes it a less forgiving outlet than other marketing options for large brands.
Another reason some brands may not be publishing many Instagram Stories is that the format is optimized for vertical smartphones, meaning a quality mobile phone is typically required to capture and publish Stories on an ongoing basis. While this should appeal to the vast majority of amateur users and producers on the platform, it may not fit the professional culture of larger brands.
Lastly, given their shorter shelf life, many brands may not see the input worthy of the output. Why spend time and money to produce a video that only lasts 24 hours?
But, while larger brands continue to grapple with this new, lower production format from the sidelines, you can seize this opportunity to engage with your customers and fans without the noise of other marketing channels.
And there are plenty of good reasons to do so.
Here’s Why Brands Should Be Using Instagram Stories
Now is a great time to add Stories to your brand’s marketing mix. As Marketing Land reports, branded content published through Stories earns a whopping 15% – 25% swipe-through rate, on average. Most brands would kill for these types of returns.
Here are our top 5 reasons:
- Less Noisy – While there are many brands on Instagram, few have really adopted Instagram stories into their core strategy. Given this lack of competitive noise, your brand can stand out. Right in-between Stories published by your audience’s peers.
- More Authentic – By their very nature, Instagram Stories allow a more authentic, behind-the-scenes perspective. Now, your entire audience holds the key to backstage brand access; their smartphone.
- Feature Your Fans – Instagram Stories offer brands the ability to tag and feature select fans, driving further engagement among their social networks, and reposts. And with Instagram’s recent update allowing fans to repost stories that they were tagged in, you can easily build a network effect among your fans and customers.
- New Product Discovery – Perhaps one of Instagram’s biggest developments in recent years has been the introduction of Shoppable Tags. With Shoppable Tags brands can now add clickable shopping bag stickers to their Stories. By tagging new and complementary products in your Stories, you create a passive channel of discovery for customers and fans alike.
- Evolving Marketing Options – Instagram is growing, and growing rapidly. To keep up with this growth, Instagram continues to release exciting marketing opportunities. You can now add soundtracks to your Instagram Stories, choosing from over a thousand top songs and artists. In addition, Instagram has also released a polling option and Question Stickers so you can easily solicit feedback directly from your fans and customers!
Instagram Stories Are Only Going To Get Better…And Noisier
With the explosive success of Instagram, the one thing we can expect for sure is continued investment and innovation of the platform. Now is the time for your brand to engage, learn what works best for your strategic goals, and grow with this exciting new marketing channel.
The only question remaining is why isn’t your brand using Instagram Stories yet?
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