Lately I have been spending quite some time on Instagram checking out what brands do and don’t, including how they use Instagram Stories. And I noticed that most brands make one and the same mistake over and over again.
To put it simply, many brands on Instagram create Instagram Stories without telling an actual “story”…
Continue reading to find out what exactly does this mean and why story-less stories on Instagram are not the best idea.
What Are Instagram Stories
One year ago, in August 2016, Instagram introduced Stories.
A feature that lets you share photos and videos of your day together in a slideshow format: your story.
The content you publish through Instagram stories does not appear on your profile feed. It can only be viewed when someone taps on your profile photo while they are visiting your profile page or from the bar at the top of the Instagram home feed.
Once you publish a story, it will be viewable for your followers for 24 hours. Once the 24 hours pass, you can still view its statistics for another 14 days in your Insights tab.
Although there are no likes and public comments, you can comment on someone’s story, which will send a direct message to the user.
What Happened After Instagram Launched Stories
The launch of Instagram Stories received a lot of media attention and buzz around the web. A big part of this attention focused on the undeniable similarities to Snapchat’s core functionalities and features.
Like any other product or feature launch, the big buzz continued for a week or two.
Afterwards people’s interest in Stories dropped down to regular levels, but its nevertheless slowly increasing over time.
Currently the average search volume for the keyword “Instagram stories” in Google is 10k-100k searches per month.
Did Instagram Copy Snapchat
As I mentioned earlier, a ton of people were mad at Instagram for copying Snapchat’s core idea when they launched Stories.
Just look at the millions of search results after typing “instagram stories copying snapchat” in Google:
But I am not going to go into much details or try to answer the top question about Instagram and Snapchat in the past year “Is Instagram copying Snapchat?”.
Because, truth be told, it doesn’t really matter.
Snapchat is a great social media with an unique idea (or at least it was) but it lacked a lot. Mainly because it did not develop and launch enough opportunities for businesses and marketers soon enough.
And when Instagram introduced Stories, they won a lot of supporters. For many, this new functionality brought a ton of new opportunities and benefits.
How Many People Use Instagram Stories
Not even a year after Instagram stories launch, the daily users of this new feature surpassed Snapchat’s 166 million daily active users.
Latest stats show that in June 2017, there were 250 million daily Instagram Stories users.
And the number of people that create Stories on Instagram continues to grow.
What Makes Telling Stories On Instagram So Appealing
So why do more people choose to create stories on Instagram over Snapchat?
Quickest answer would be: because hundreds of millions of people already did have Instagram accounts.
Although we live in a world where most people have multiple social media accounts, people still hesitate before signing up for the next one.
And while Snapchat became popular for teenagers, Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, was the first visual-based social network that won people’s hearts.
And when Instagram got acquired by Facebook it also increased its credibility and trust (especially amongst businesses).
Moreover, Instagram stories offer more visibility for both brands and personal accounts. With over 700 million monthly active users, there is a much higher chance you get some social recognition.
Mistakes Brands Make When Creating Instagram Stories
Before introducing you with my views regarding what’s the biggest issue with most brands’ Instagram story strategies, lets got through some other common mistakes.
Once you jump on the Instagram stories bandwagon, you need to offer some consistency to your followers. Whether you are going to post stories daily, weekly or a few times per week, you need to establish a consistent schedule.
And you would want to do that, because you want your followers to be looking forward to your stories and to actually be excited about them.
To figure out what posting frequency and timing will work best for your Instagram page, simply check out your Insights tab and see when are your followers most active.
If you plan to create stories only once a week, choose the day when your followers are most active.
Another commonly made mistake is when brands publish the exact same content they already published on their profile feed.
It is okay to do it once in a while, when you have a really important post on your feed and you want your followers to check it out. However, even if you are going to publish the same thing, you can still make it in a different and unique way.
Lets say you published a video on your page and you want more people to see it. Instead of posting the same exact video on your Stories, you can create a teaser artwork with a call-to-action “go to our profile and check out our last post”.
Even the best brands can underestimate the specs of an Instagram Stories post. If you would want your stories to actually be viewed, remembered and have an impact on your followers, avoid these design mistakes:
- Using hard to read fonts, colors and text sizes. You should as well avoid placing text in the bottom of your Story content, because of the comment/message box.
- Including too many elements and details. Keep it simple, your stories only last a few seconds, there is simply not enough time for someone to understand and figure out what they are seeing.
- Inconsistent color schemes.
The #1 Biggest Mistake Brands Make On Instagram Stories
As I said in the beginning of this article, brands’ #1 biggest mistake on Instagram Stories is… when they are not actually telling a story.
I mean, it’s right in front of us.
The #1 rule of successful Instagram Stories is hidden in the name of this feature.
When I was introducing you earlier with the concept behind Stories, I quoted Instagram:
“you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.”
And I am honestly not sure how most brands forget about that concept.
Instagram offers a powerful tool, a feature designed especially for storytelling, and we continue to see top brands create a ton of inconsistent and unrelated content in Instagram Stories…
And while they might still be seeing some results from non-story based content on Instagram stories, they are definitely missing out a lot.
Because stories are powerful… and here is why!
The Power Of Stories And Storytelling
One of the best and most thought-provoking marketing quotes I have ever read, is Seth Godin‘s:
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
No matter how much the marketing world is changing every single day, the end goal of any marketing and advertising campaigns is to make a sale.
So marketing and salesmanship have the same concepts.
And many marketers and salesmen believe that the best ads ask no one to buy.
The best promotional campaigns are those that offer wanted information, site advantages, offer a sample of the product or service… or present the idea of how would it be to use that product or service.
But with all the marketing choices there are nowadays… some brands suffer to stand out.
Many marketers find it hard to market a product or service in a way that will make people listen to your message and care about what you have to say.
And here comes the power of storytelling.
When people listen to or read stories, their brains become more engaged.
And that because when we are being told a story, all areas in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story get activated.
If someone tells us a story about a successful athlete, our motor cortex gets active.
If it’s about a delicious food we like, our sensory cortex lights up.
Thus, it’s possible a story to put your whole brain to work.
But why is that?
Simply because we are wired that way.
I will not be going into scientific details, but I advice you to read more about the science of storytelling.
Why To Use Instagram Stories For Storytelling
The Instagram Stories feature is an ideal Storytelling tool.
You can use a combination of compelling photos and videos to tell stories that matter to your brand and stories that matter to your clients.
It is easy to create and moreover view.
Once a user clicks on your profile photo and opens your stories, they already show interest in what you have to show and tell them.
Unlike regular posts that they can randomly stumble upon on their feeds, opening Instagram Stories is something they initiate.
So if you play your cards right, they will not only view your whole story the but they will remember it and come back for more next time they see you have posted a new story.
Quick Tips On How To Easily Create An Instagram Story
The Perfect Dimensions For Instagram Stories
There are many sources that provide different size recommendations for Instagram Stories. But what I have found to work the best for me is:
- 1080 pixels wide x 1920 pixels tall
Apps & Tools You Can Use
If you don’t have in-house designers that can help you create stories content, you can create your own with the help of design apps and tools.
Both of them have pre-made templates for professional looking Instagram Stories and you get a ton of editing options.