Instagram last week made a huge splash in the social media world by announcing its new Instagram Stories feature.
If you haven’t been closely following up-and-coming social media or haven’t been on Snapchat, you will be totally confused about what the heck “stories” even are.
A “story,” an online term originally coined by Snapchat, is an image or short video that is only visible to your followers for 24 hours. They’re an interesting introduction to social media, because they allow a sneak peek into the day-to-day life of a user. Rather than being a medium to show a super-polished, lasting representation at what you do or who you are—such as me and my lettering on Instagram—your “story” can be off-the-cuff and true to your actual daily life.
I’ve personally loved Snapchat as a social platform because it allows me to be less obsessive about what and when I’m posting, and how professional my photos or videos look. A lot of times, I’ll only be doodling in a notebook or drawing at night, but I still want to share it with the world without having to go through all the work to get the perfect lighting or adding a thoughtful caption. That’s when I love the simplicity of dropping it into my story on Snapchat.
My audience still sees it, and understands that I’m not a computer who spits out a final, polished lettering piece every day—I’m a real human who messily doodles in between notes and work to-do lists.
If Snapchat is already doing this, why do Instagram Stories matter?
Instagram is already a superb social platform for viewing and sharing high-quality photos and video. The photos are quick and easy to digest, with little distraction or noise. From my experience, it’s easier to gain a larger following on Instagram and users seem more likely to connect with others without knowing them personally. The only downfall has been that in order to maintain and grow a follower list, users have to post high quality content. Your audience will become disinterested very quickly if your posts become confusing or irrelevant to why they originally followed you.
Instagram and Snapchat users (including myself) have started to realize the benefits of not having to be so strict with what and when we’re posting. It’s a relief to know that your photo or video can provide its intended value for 24 hours, and then it’s gone. No stress. No lasting negative impression.
The Wall Street Journal even noted that in an April Piper Jaffray survey of American teens, teens had become more loyal to Snapchat than Instagram over the past six months.
According to the semiannual survey, 28% of more than 6,530 teens polled said the disappearing photo app was their top social network, edging out Instagram with 27%. Six months earlier, 33% of teens ranked Instagram first and 19% favored Snapchat.
“Instagram Unveils Instagram Stories”
By Deepa Seetharaman. The Wall Street Journal. August 2, 2016
It’s obvious that Instagram had to make a move. It could not be competitive if it continued as the same static social media platform it had always been. It needed to appeal to the large market infatuated with the unpolished and informal way to share their lives.
So Instagram made the move and, took the “stories” concept and ran with it.
Now people who hated switching between Instagram and Snapchat can have the combined experience in one place—Instagram.
And even though Instagram Stories has only been around for a short time, some brands have already emerged as leaders in the world of Instagram Stories. An article by [a]list highlighted General Electric (GE), Arby’s and Red Bull, as three brands who have already made it a point to utilize the new opportunity.
It’s a great lesson in the importance of storytelling in social media today. It’s not only about how beautiful your photos or videos are (although that does help). It’s about sharing an interesting and compelling story, and filling other people’s lives with what they consider to be valuable. It’s content marketing in its purest form.
Which is exactly what we at Avalaunch Media are helping our clients accomplish. We want the things we produce with our clients to be a valuable stepping stone in the story they’re creating. Because we know that with great storytelling comes a dedicated audience base that deeply and personally connects with a particular brand.
So go ahead and experiment with Instagram Stories. (I won’t tell Snapchat.) See how you can tell great stories in new and exciting ways.
If you’re a newbie to social media stories and want to learn all about posting your first story to Instagram, check out this blog post by Buffer to learn best practices.
And if you’re interested in seeing my Instagram posts and stories, you can follow me on Instagram (or Snapchat) @bremccallum.