It’s no surprise how digital marketers can come up with ways to utilize a simple social channel into a lucrative marketing tool.

Not long after Snapchat launches in 2011, the photo/video-messaging platform was known for its private photo sharing among “Snap” friends. Soon after, Instagram cloned Snapchat’s “ephemeral content” and created a similar version for themselves – wherein users can post spur-of-the-moment photos and videos in sheer blitz without flooding your (and your friends’) feed. Facebook Messenger followed suit with the innovation and launched its own Stories feature in the form of “Messenger Day”.

Now, the 24-hour photo and video-sharing feature that almost all photo/video sharing and messaging apps are raving about has gone from a simple series of self-exiling posts to a powerful marketing tool. It gained notoriety among small businesses and brands wanting to have a unique channel to showcase their goods – adding more value to the proverbial “ephemeral contents”.

In case you’re still living under a rock, and don’t have a clue on what you’re actually missing, here are some “must-know” bits about the Stories feature:

  • Snapchat launched “My Story” in October, 2013.
  • Instagram launched its own “Stories” feature in August, 2016; Facebook Messenger rolled out its “Messenger Day” feature in March, 2017.
  • A total of 173 Million daily average users of Snapchat’s My Story; 250 Million daily users for Instagram Stories; (as of Q2, 2017)
  • Each Snapchat My Story post runs for 10 seconds; 5 seconds shorter than Instagram’s 15-second Stories clip.

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Stories may look oh, too basic at first. After all, in its simplest form, one can conveniently post anytime of any day and at any given reason. But make no mistake. In using this particular feature for your marketing efforts, you have to consider these factors to be able to draw attention from your audience when using the Stories feature.

  • Initiate engagements and CTAs – Stories can be a good way to jumpstart a conversion between your brand and your audience. Gain engagements and improve page and website traffic by putting compelling captions on your Stories entry. You can do this by asking people to like your last post, direct you or go to your bio to click your link, or instruct audience to your DM your for inquiries.
  • Spark sense of urgency – Since stories have a lap time of 24 hours, it is a good way to promote/launch new products and other special offers for limited time promotions. Take advantage of this time limit by creating a sense of urgency among your audience such as countdown-like posts, limited time promos, and by-the-hour flash sales.
  • Geotag your post – Geotagging your story is important to localize your post. These tagging stickers allow other users to “explore” see your Stories post on IG, Snapchat, and Messenger when searching for other photos and videos by locations. With this, geotagging also provides elements when adding context to your Stories entries.
  • Use your imagination – Make the most out of these ephemeral posts by doing something really unique. Tell your “stories” in the most peculiar way by using the feature’s different functionalities. Boomerang for wacky posts; using captions to highlight hashtags and enforce catchy taglines for your campaign; doing before and after shots for promoting products; do lightning quiz for promos and online games; or creating sequential posts to convey a central theme or tackling a specific topic to your followers. The sky is the limit!

What’s the beauty about Stories?

Admit it, Stories is fun to use. Albeit it can be a bit too light and casual for some marketers to use this to their advantage. Stories can be a great help in triggering online engagements and virality among audience.

But how can a short 10 or 15-second clip make a difference to your marketing strategy?

  • Use it to test the waters – Stories can be a good way to know the pulse of the general public. Use it to gauge the reception of your audience.
  • Segment your posts – Curating your Instagram timeline is an art form. Hence, since it’s too sacrilegious to post silly photos and videos on your well-curated feed, you can instead publish these out-of-place entries that didn’t make the cut as Stories. That way, you can showcase your brand’s lighter side by showing these raw, extemporary pictures without having to ruin the sheer flawlessness of your timeline.
  • Create Teasers – Is your brand cooking a unique campaign this fall season? Launching a new line of services for your followers? Perhaps, a logo revamp? While waiting for your campaign’s D-day, you can use Instagram stories to post brand teasers to tickle anticipation. This is also a great way to gain access to your niche market
  • Rogue Posts – Thought of something clever to post during the recent Mayweather-McGregor fight? Piggybacking on trending news and events is something that’s considered effective in keeping up with your audience. Check on the latest relevant events that can be affiliated to your product without ruining your content calendar. Just make it a point to make it subtle yet striking… and goes within the limits of Fair Use to avoid legal backfires.With this you can also use Stories to cover… well, stories from your own recent events and campaigns (e.g. behind-the-scenes look, side interviews, etc.)

Celebrities and Brands Using Stories

As celebrities and influencers nestling on various social sites and photo-sharing apps, it’s best to collaborate with them in showcasing your brand to your audience. Creating a blitz of spontaneous Stories posts with an influencer can serve as an effective way to get your audience’s attention.

Here are just some of the famous faces we often see on various photo/video app:

Solenn Heussaff

Negocia Group - Stories

Photo courtesy: Solenn Heusaff’s Instagram

Solenn Heussaff is a famous Filipino-French model with over 3.5 million followers on Instagram. She is using Instagram story to show her daily life from moments with the family to all the background behind her work. The 32-year old celebrity utilizes Story to promote her career, events, and shows. She is also promoting products and brand like L’Oréal by linked her story to their Instagram page.

Best of all, Solenn also shows her lighter, comedic persona alongside her husband, Nico Bolzico by posting wacky videos of them, doing virtually anything under the sun – giving her audience a sneak peek of her real-life adventures.

JCrew

Negocia Group - Stories

Photo courtesy: JCrew’s Instagram

For its highly anticipated new line of sunglasses “Jane In Pink”, Jcrew hyped its products in sheer perfection. The fashion retailer embraced the feature’s 24-hour time limit by incorporating unique countdown to inject a mixture of persuasion and sense of urgency in such a sleek, uniformed way.

Mercedes-Benz

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Photo Courtesy: Mercedes Benz’ Instagram

Perhaps, Mercedes Benz is very firm about attention to detail, and how to emphasize it through Stories. The luxury automobile manufacturer showcases their “behind the scenes” Stories log of their photo/video shoot in order for them to share its creative and execution process for their print and audiovisual ads. Hitting two birds in one stone, Mercedes utilizes different captions to highlight the car’s key features while mentioning partner teams to expand reach.

Which app is the most effective for marketing use?

Since its Launch, Facebook Messenger’s Day is still gathering steam. Albeit there is a potential market to obtain there, it is still considered off-beat to pursue Stories-related marketing executions on Messenger. On the bright side, the beauty of this is that the feature, itself is still under-saturated – making it viable for newcomers and small businesses to gain momentum over big-named competitors.

As for Instagram and Snapchat, well, let’s face it. Instagram is eating Snapchat’s lunch, meaning Instagram has the edge in terms of market reach due to its increasing number of users. By deploying a seemingly complete clone of the Stories feature, there’s no wonder Snapchat is losing its grip in terms of user shares. Conversely, recent studies show that Snapchat still rules over millennial users in being loyal over the OG Stories creator – providing a decent playing field for brands, marketers, and publishers to devise a unique, tailor-fit execution that will appeal to the younger generation.

Functionality

Instagram allows you to link your stories to another page (for verified users) on the story to be able to generate traffic – a critical feature that Snapchat doesn’t have access to. Both platforms share location-based tagging functions in the form of Geotagging stickers for IG and Geofilter for Snapchat. However, Snap is still missing out on the advantages of using hashtags – blatantly disregarding the opportunity to improve the content’s search purposes and online visibility.

In addition, Instagram’s “pause” function opens an opportunistic door for a more interactive engagement among users… something Snapchat needs to incorporate to their platform as well.

Lastly, Snapchat exhibits a rawer and more spontaneous vibe compared to Instagram. Nevertheless Snapchat still lacks the staying power among brands, power users, and seasoned marketers. While IG is known for its editing features, certain add-ons such as paintbrushes, as well as Live, Boomerang, and Rewind functions were added for a more customizable story. Snapchat offers a mélange of filters and interactive customizations that can add appeal to the post.

Time Limit

When it comes to length, Snapchat plays a 10-second video at a time compared to Instagram’s 15 seconds. This offers more versatility and allowance for marketers to utilize the extra 5 seconds to further enrich aesthetic and context.

Takeaways:

  • Messenger needs to catch up and get into the Stories game real quick.
  • Snapchat proves to be winners in attracting younger users, but still has to come up with new ways to improve User Experience and improve retention among users.
  • It goes to show how Instagram manages to out-maneuvered Snapchat with its number of functions.
  • IG has longer video duration to enforce for a more composed content.
Negocia Group - Stories

IG vs Snap: Which one is better for your marketing plans?

Overall, Messenger Day is completely out of the question in this social media duel (at least for now). Instagram has won in this lop-sided Stories match over Snapchat and Messenger. Snapchat may have skipped reading the playbook in keeping up with the changes from these photo/video-sharing apps. Despite this, Instagram may claim victory this time, but must never estimate Snapchat’s current state. It still has a loyal following, and all it takes is one major makeover to get its feet back on the game and play at par with IG.

Regardless of the competition on these three photo/video sharing forefront features, it all boils down to how to use it. An effective tool, after all, is irrelevant if one doesn’t know how to use it.