Social Media Stories have been around for a pretty long time now. Instagram users experienced the first Story in August 2016, and soon all the social media platforms were in on the new marketing hype.
Twitter tried to do something a bit more in line with its brand. Instead of going with the normal “Story” verbiage, Twitter users can now “Fleet” a Tweet. The graphic or video is the same size as a Story in other platforms, so other than for branding purposes, I’m not sure there’s much difference.
What is a Story?
Basically, a Story is either a graphic or short video from your mobile device, in approximately a 1920px X 1080px size that only lasts for 24 hours on your social media channel.
The concept is relatively simple: use a Story for an “in the moment” marketing idea or just to share what’s on your mind. The top platforms that use this concept are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (yep, you read that right!), and WhatsApp. YouTube dabbled in it for a while but seems to have discontinued it.
For the artwork, you can use a tool such as Canva to create the Story and keep them online for easy access, easy editing and downloading to your mobile device. For businesses, keep in mind that branding is more than your logo; create a style, a coloring that is consistent with your business brand and voice.
Once you have the artwork or video ready to post as a Story, tap the social media app you want to post it to and click the plus (+) symbol next to your picture or avatar. Locate the short video or graphic on your device’s gallery or download storage and tap to select. You may see verbiage similar to “Share to your Story” or “Share Now”, depending on the social media app – this is how the Story POSTS.
A Story, however, is not a normal post. Because the Story can either be a short video or graphic, there is no way at this time to add additional text, comments, etc. to your Story. Followers who see your Story can comment or send a private message to you.
Your Followers will see your Story or Stories (yes, you can post more than one in a 24-hour period). It’s like a direct notification to them that you’ve made a post.
Stories are unique marketing in that they touch your followers directly, whereas a normal post can be seen and, on some channels, interact by followers and visitors to your Page. Stories can give your marketing a boost by keeping juicier, member-only content for followers that encourages more followers and interactions.
Another uniqueness of Stories is archiving. To our knowledge, Facebook and Instagram are the only social media channels that allow Stories to be archived. Facebook will archive your Stories automatically but not easily found by your audience after 24 hours has lapsed. Instagram is the first (and seemingly only, at this writing) to allow deliberate archiving of Stories; these are called highlights.
Highlights allow both followers and visitors to your social media channel the opportunity to see what’s important to you. You can create as many Highlights as you want, but keep in mind this is as much a branding statement for your business as your Story should be.
Let’s look at REALTORS® as an example. Tap your Instagram app on your mobile device and search for a REALTOR®. Tap one of the results and view the Highlights. If a REALTOR® has a Highlight marked “Listings”, you can see what type of listings they are selling and get an idea for frequency and activity.
…or Following The Crowd?
Just because it’s a new concept doesn’t mean a business should adopt it – the concept has to align with the business’ goals for lead and content generation. Likewise, just because Instagram came up with a brilliant marketing concept doesn’t mean the other social media channels had to adopt a similar approach.
Think about the reasons why you decided to join the social media channel(s) you use for your business. At one time, they all had a uniqueness about them; one channel typically didn’t have the same offerings as the others.
If you could get the same offering from your chosen channel, it’s probably true that you would spend more time on that channel than any other because you like the offering. This also has the capacity, however, to dilute the intention of the unique offering.
Let’s go back to Stories for a moment. Above we listed the channels currently offering Stories. At one time, it was only Instagram; now they all have something seemingly similar, including Twitter’s Fleet. Even if the other social media channels don’t behave the same way as their competitors, the Story concept is pretty much the same. Why bother exploring other channels, even if you find your audience may be using a competitor?
You can equate this concept to almost anything as a consumer. If I could get Chinese food from my local Cracker Barrel, why then would I bother going to a restaurant that specializes in Chinese food? Same goes for clothing, sports or workout equipment, or school supplies.
What makes a competitor, or a social media channel, stand out?
What makes your business stand apart from your competition?
Don’t be afraid to adopt a competitor’s “new shiny toy”, but, be mindful of any negative feedback or flaws you discover. Then, ask yourself, “Can I improve this for my audience?” Would the improvement be drastic enough to move the prospect back to your business for another go-round, or did you simply re-hash what the competitor originally created but put a new-fangled bow on it instead?
Things to consider as we head out of the pandemic and get our businesses – and clients and prospects – back to work. Stay flexible, but, stay ahead.
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.
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