A Brief Guide to Stories: What They Are, How to Use Them, and What to Post

Social Media

Instagram and Facebook “Stories” have become increasingly popular. Stories function by allowing businesses and individuals to share videos, photos, and interactive content for a relatively short period of time. If you’re still on the fence about Stories, our previous blog post, 7 Social Media Trends in 2020, touches on the growing importance of this form of content. If your business doesn’t utilize stories as a part of its social media plan, this blog post will dive deeper into why it may be time to reconsider.

What is a Story? 

If you’re new to the concept, a Story is a short, user-generated photo, video, or interactive collection that can be uploaded to a business’ Facebook or Instagram account. They live at the top of the newsfeed where others can view them for only 24 hours.

The function was inspired by the popular Snapchat platform and though the content has a real-time feel because of their short life-span, the good news is that stories can actually be scheduled ahead of time. 

Stories have quickly captivated audiences. More than “500 million users now use Instagram Stories every day.” That’s a lot of potential customers just waiting to learn more about your products and services. What’s more, experts don’t expect the trend to change anytime soon (and we certainly hope it doesn't!) 

So, should you be using Stories? 

Businesses and brands that are looking to get in front of audiences age 18 - 44, should consider incorporating story into their strategy. These stats on Story engagement and usage explain why:

  1. 86.6% of Instagrammers post on Instagram Stories. That’s a lot of general engagement that businesses can creatively harness!

  2. 60% of Millennials watch and post Instagram Stories. If you’re looking to reach millenials, stories are the perfect place to do it.

  3. 61% of Instagrammers use Stories to see what their friends are doing. This is where micro influencer marketing can REALLY go a long way. Someone using your product or posting about your business in their stories represents the perfect blend of authentic testimonial and brand awareness.
  1. “1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z-ers look for Stories of the products or services they want to buy.” This shows that people are actively looking for brands they want to become involved with on Stories. 

  1. “Creating content for Facebook Stories is different from creating content for the News Feed. The pace is faster, the aspect ratio is different, and you’ve got much less text to work with. But Stories have the strategic advantage of appearing at the top of the screen.”

What should you post to your story? 

As we’ve actively shared our own brand on social media, we’ve been in the same boat as you and realize just how difficult it can be to know what to post as a Story. Which is why we’ve compiled a handy list of topics you can share with your audience if you’re just getting started:

  1. Behind the scenes content - what it’s like to work for your company or what your teams day-to-day looks like.
  2. How your product is made or service works
  3. A live video - consider talking about the features of an existing product, doing a Q&A, or another topic that you want follower engagement with
  4. An announcement for your business - like what your customers can look forward to in the coming year or new product launches
  5. Event coverage
  6. Add a link to swipe up - for businesses over 10,000 followers, this allows followers to go directly from stories to a link of your choosing, whether it’s your blog, products for sale, tickets for events, or any number of things 
  7. Polls, multiple choice questions, and other interactive Story features
  8. Share your post - let followers know you have fresh content on your feed! This also helps the instagram algorithm to recognize your content as quality content because you are directing your followers to engage with it
  9. Repost stories that you’re tagged in - user generated content is PURE GOLD. It’s a way to say “don’t just take our word for it”. If you see a story you’re tagged in, reshare it and show the original source some love.
  10. Story Takeover - allow an influencer, staff member, or partner to post to your Stories for the day! Maybe it’s a special occasion, or a testimonial about their experience with your business or brand. This is a great opportunity to employ someone else's glowing praise as a force multiplier. To learn more about how to make the most of a story takeover, read our blog here.

And while Stories typically only last 24 hours, there’s one way to make sure all of your hard work gathering that content doesn’t disappear as well: saving Stories to your Highlights (Instagram) or Story Archive (Facebook).

Essentially, this permanently saves your stories into a designated Highlight folder of your choosing at the top of your feed or profile. Our tip: create highlight covers to create a clean, consistent “on-brand” feel and allow new (or old followers) to always find the tutorials, announcements, product tutorials or whatever else you’re sharing on your stories, long after the 24 hours have expired. 

Wrap up

Stories can feel intimidating, but they don’t have to be. Play around with it-- audiences love authentic, timely content. In fact, in many cases, the less curated the material, the more trustworthy you and your brand become. Remember, YOU are the expert in your field and your story is worth sharing. Let us know your success using stories in the comments below!

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