Snapchat Stories has become a social media phenomenon, prompting a variety of tech companies and social media platforms to take inspiration from, or almost outright copy, its format. Apple has just introduced Clips, and Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger have all been pushing the story format for a while. Even Twitter’s Moments feature was created in direct response to the growing popularity of Stories features amongst social media users.
Storytelling on social media has changed, and the commodification of such an informal and relaxed mode of communication is undoubtedly changing the ways in which marketers are operating. Ensuring that your brand responds to this changing landscape is incredibly important.
If your audience doesn’t spend its time on Snapchat, it’s only natural that the medium would have eluded you until now. However, avoiding Stories altogether would be unwise going forwards. Why is it worth investing time into understanding how your brand can successfully use this mode of storytelling? Well, as the format becomes more popular on a variety of different platforms, the collective reach of Stories begins to exceed 100 million individuals.
Stories: three fundamental elements you need to know
1. Going against almost everything you’ve probably been told until now, picture and video content should be shot vertically, which looks more natural when viewed on a smartphone.
2. Content is always presented chronologically, in sharp contrast to the algorithms seen on Facebook and Instagram.
3. Overlays including music, filters, text and emojis are used to further personalise content, attract attention and communicate key pieces of information.
This merging of words, pictures, sounds and videos into one medium allows users to express themselves in myriad ways, but, from a marketing perspective, mastering this mode of storytelling requires additional research and creativity.
Will Stories overtake the social feed?
No. At least, not right now. If you tremble at the thought of having to manage yet another social media format, in addition to everything you already need to keep on top of, don’t panic. In fact, it’s best to approach Stories and your social feed as two quite different things.
Stories has found a niche in conveying smaller moments that don’t necessarily need to be curated or look highly polished and professional. Stories could give your audience an insight into the behind the scenes, day-to-day, operations of your brand, but you certainly don’t have to approach the medium in this way. It’s about finding what works for you and your brand, and experimenting creatively to push the boundaries of storytelling. Don’t forget that Stories content expires, and this can be used to instil a sense of urgency in your audience.
Your timeline or social feed should continue to focus on displaying your hero content, and should consistently work to increase audience engagement with your brand.
Embrace Stories sooner rather than later
At some point, probably very soon, marketers will have to get to grips with incorporating advertising into the Stories format, which is going to be decidedly different from advertising on every other platform. Marketers will benefit from having taken the time to familiarise themselves with this unique medium ahead of time, working to place brands in a position that will ensure they can quickly begin using this mode of storytelling to their advantage.