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The never-ending story of Stories

by Vishal Joshi | 26.10.2017
If you can’t beat them, join them. Or in Facebook’s case – if you can’t buy them, copy them. Three out of four of the biggest social media platforms in the world each have a ‘story’ feature. Snapchat was the first out of the blocks in 2013, and since then, Instagram and Facebook have tried their very best to enhance the feature on their respective platforms.

A report by Tech Crunch suggests that Instagram, owned by Facebook, generates approximately 90 million more (250m) daily stories than Snapchat (160m). And this is largely to do with Instagram playing its trump cards by continuously introducing new features that elevate the platform’s popularity.

Although Instagram Stories is only a year old, there are already a variety of unique filters that can be used while videoing – a more premium looking text format and more recently, polls – where users can pose questions for their followers to interact with.

Facebook itself, however, has struggled to gather momentum for its own version when it launched earlier this year. A user may have upwards of a thousand Facebook friends. But they’d struggle to find more than a handful of stories on there – half of which have been shared via Instagram.

But if there is a platform that refuses to accept defeat, then it’s Facebook. Just last week it extended the content for brands and pages as opposed to just individuals. Seeing the popularity of brands such as Nike using Snapchat and Instagram Stories, Facebook quickly followed suit and its own version is now being used more frequently by brands.

The spontaneous nature of Stories is what makes the medium so popular (just not on Facebook) in its early years. Snapchat revolutionised the way social users interacted with one another and brands soon grasped its potential for outreaching to consumers. From social media influencing to offering exclusive deals – the ways in which brands are creating content, specifically in the Story format, shows just how effective it is.

Brands are also quick to exploit the flexibility of the format: Q&A content strung together in a series of videos is one example.

Some DIY brands like Wickes use stories as ways to provide customers with step-by-step stories indicating how to use the products. Instagram’s poll feature has the potential to be the most popular. Brands can do direct market research in a creative way, and then being in a position to make key decisions based on consumer feedback.

An impressive example of brands using stories is Ralph Lauren. Their Instagram account allowed their followers exclusive viewing access to Paris Fashion Week with an access only look at backstage happenings of the illustrious event. Quickly gathering attention, Ralph Lauren accumulated 12,000 new followers throughout the week as followers had a front row view of the show, straight from the account’s Story.

A report by Media Kix explains how over 50% of Instagram’s 12 million worldwide registered profile businesses has created a story; ranging from brands such as Heinz and Ryanair.

Jessica Ricks, a fashion designer and beauty blogger, with a massive social media following, made the transition from Snapchat to Instagram after seeing the better reach Instagram has. Speaking to Media Kix, she said: “Business-wise, definitely Instagram is better. It is easier to get recognized by brands and to be discovered, since there is no current way to explore users on Snapchat.”

Instagram seems to be numero uno when it comes to stories. The constant additions to the feature continues to propel its usage. One of the most popular things brands do on Instagram is allow customers to take over accounts for a day to show how products and services are being used from a first-hand account. Southwest Airlines do this frequently and customers story their journeys straight from the airline’s Instagram page.

Brands will continue to get creative using stories – in direct correlation with the rate at which the internet giants up their game and roll out new features. What’s clear is how different the landscape looks now compared to when Stories was just a simple snap that disappeared in a day.