Instagram Stories offers an incomparable PR and marketing tool. It’s an almost essential marketing method for brands targeting customers in their 20s. The Instagram Story feature lets you share photos and videos, but posts vanish after 24 hours unless added to your profile as permanent “highlights.”
Instagram blatantly copied the vanishing feature from Snapchat, but Instagram Stories have amassed 300 million daily active users, almost twice as many as Snapchat.
Benefits of Instagram Stories
Social media marketers cite some singular benefits for Instagram Stories:
- Instagram is the second most popular social media platform after Facebook and a favorite platform for influencer marketing.
- Because the content will only live for 24 hours, the content itself doesn’t have to be as polished as a normal post.
- The feature provides live streaming. Brands can live stream events, host Q&A sessions or even live stream spontaneously.
- Brands can give an influencer temporary control the brand account in an Instagram “take over,” a popular influencer marketing tactic.
- Instagram Stories are ideal for storytelling and relaying visuals. “For many of the brands — including non-visual ones — companies can post about the incredible stories on how people’s lives are changed by their products or services,” Richard Wong, vice president, marketing and creator relations at #Paid, told CMS Wire. “The human elements connect and resonate with audiences.”
- Marketers can post stories more frequently than regular postings without being considered intrusive, according to CMS Wire.
Obstacles to Embracing Instagram Stories
Arik Hanson, principal of ACH Communications, says he wonders why more brands have not embraced Instagram Stories. He proposes three reasons on his blog post:
Management feels uncomfortable giving up control. Junior staff members, not their supervisors, will run the accounts. Greater trust in younger employees is the obvious solution.
Determining business benefits poses a challenge. At least currently, marketers can only analyze views and completion percentages. Brands need to examine available metrics more carefully and pursue increased awareness and engagement as their main objectives.
Many brands lack the resources. Effective marketing through Instagram Stories requires creativity, planning and consistent posting. It’s difficult to outsource the task. By its nature, in-house employees do a better job.
Despite the challenges, more brands will begin experimenting with Instagram Stories, Hanson predicts. “They just can’t afford not to,” he says.
Advice for Marketing Instagram Stories
Stress quality over quantity. The more you post, the harder it becomes to maintain a successful follower-to-view ratio, writes Chris Kyriacou, founder of social media @iSocial, in Social Media Today. As a result, Instagram’s algorithm may rank your stories lower.
Beware long stories. The longer your stories, the less likely followers will watch all the story clips. The algorithm may rank your stories lower.
Include hashtags and locations. Take advantage of Instagram’s explore feature and its new feature that allows users to follow hashtags. Include one or two relevant hashtags and your location to increase impressions. More impressions will prompt your content to rank higher on the newsfeed algorithm.
Live stream occasionally. Consider live streaming once or twice a month. “Instagram can have a tendency to place a user’s Instagram story alongside an Instagram live stream, talk about a double bubble,” Kyriacou says.
Bottom Line: Brands can obtain substantial marketing and PR benefits through Instagram Stories. Finding the resources and determining clear business benefits beyond engagement and awareness pose challenges. Managers may need to place greater trust in their younger staff members to make headway on the platform.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.