Blame it on Snapchat. The social network debuted Stories, ephemeral slideshows made of a mix of pics and videos shot by users over the course of a day. Snapchat’s millennial and teen users loved the format, though the rest of the social media universe took little notice .
But then Stories were copied by Facebook and introduced to a larger audience on Instagram. Facebook itself, as well as its messaging platforms WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, rolled out Stories in 2017.
Now, indicators point to a new conclusion. Stories are quietly consuming the social world, changing how we share and view content on social media. For companies that rely on social media to reach their customers, this presents brand new opportunities.
Millennials have grown up over-saturated with digital marketing. They’ve learned to tune out banner ads and can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Companies hoping to reach them with Stories need to provide true value: to entertain, inform, or educate, not just sell. Far from a direct marketing or sales play, Stories are a branding opportunity, with little place for a heavy-handed call to action.
Try investing in talent
Stories work best when they integrate video, text, images, and more. Though they might look improvised, they often require a higher production value and greater technical expertise than a general Tweet or Facebook post. You may need to evaluate your current talent to ensure the product is at its highest level.
Use Multimedia to showcase products in action
The traditional static image is considered a pasteurized and has little place in the realm of Stories. Successful brands are interested in using the multimedia format to show how products fit into the customers’ lives. Tapping into influencers to create and share product Stories enables companies to extend their reach and access an already bought-in audience.
Balance Production with authenticity
Users expect a certain degree of polish from brands, but too much editing can rob a Story of its authenticity. Finding this balance isn’t necessarily easy, and even some of the world’s leading media brands have had to experiment.
Take center stage
Powerful Stories capitalize on a central attribute of many millennial users. Remember, They desire to share their own pics and videos and literally see themselves on screen… rather than just watch others. Brands finding success with Stories have created ways to evoke quality, user-generated content, then incorporate that into their own efforts.
Though the format continues to evolve, Stories aren’t going away. The ability for users to highlight their Stories already hints at the evolution of the format into something more durable. What’s clear is that for a new wave of digital citizens, Stories are largely synonymous with social media, while the newsfeed–once was Facebook’s defining innovation.