How to Use Facebook and Instagram Stories for Marketing

by Paige Schlichte
Instagram and Facebook Stories may only last 24 hours, but they are great for driving engagement and increasing visibility for your brand. Learn how you can leverage stories as a marketing tool, discover best practices for each platform, and get a few sample post ideas.

Creating and promoting a client’s brand is like telling a story. From your logo to the emojis you use in your social posts, everything about your brand the public sees conveys something about your company. It affects how people feel about and react to your brand, and ultimately impacts the success of your business.

You probably know social media plays a huge role in communicating your brand’s story. But did you know you can use social media stories to tell your brand’s story? And did we just use the word ‘story’ too many times in one sentence?

What are stories? 

Since Snapchat launched their ‘Stories’ feature in October of 2013, this medium has taken the social media world by storm. They’re a staple feature of almost every major social platform, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Twitter seems to be the only platform that hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon.

Stories are a way of posting to social media without posting on your typical news feed or timeline. Like a regular post, they can be either photo- or video-based. Instead of scrolling, users progress through stories by tapping. Stories appear at the top of the screen on each platform, so they have some prime real estate within the platform itself. 

What really makes stories different, however, is that they’re temporary. Stories are designed to delete themselves 24 hours after being posted, regardless of what social platform you’re using.

Why use stories?

You might be asking yourself, “If they self-destruct after a day, what’s the point?” The point is that they allow you to interact with your followers on a more casual, frequent basis. Imagine posting on Instagram three times in a single day. It would seem a little excessive, right? People might stop paying attention, or worse, unfollow you. But posting to your Instagram Story three times in a day? Completely acceptable.

Stories also curate an in-the-moment connection with your audience, which makes the interaction feel more genuine. They’re a handy middle ground between a regular, permanent post and a live stream. 

Finally, stories offer an authentic, behind-the-scenes look into your brand. Regular news feed posts are typically planned, edited, or staged to some degree. While your story content should still be carefully thought-out to ensure it’s on brand, this type of content gives people a glimpse into ‘everyday life’ at your company.

Consumers like this kind of content, and the numbers prove it. 68 percent of millennials watch Instagram Stories, whereas only 49 percent watch Snapchat Stories. And even though Facebook was the most recent platform to join the story craze, Facebook Stories already has 500 million users—just as many as Instagram. Clearly, it’s an effective way to reach your audience. 

How to use stories for your business 

We’ve hopefully convinced you that your brand should start creating stories. But how do you use them for business purposes? Can’t you just use them the same way you do on your personal account? Short answer: no.  

Below we’ve broken down some of the best practices for Instagram and Facebook Stories and provided a few ideas for using them to promote your brand. 

Instagram

Instagram is killing the story game. One-third of the most viewed Instagram Stories in 2018 were posted by businesses, and one in every five Instagram Story posted by a business leads to a direct message. 

For both images and videos, Instagram’s standard size is 1080 x 1920 pixels. Instagram Stories automatically stay on the same static image for five seconds if a user doesn’t tap to the next photo. Videos, on the other hand, are broken up into 15-second segments. If your video is more than 15 seconds, don’t worry—Instagram will automatically break it up for you and autoplay the next segment smoothly. 

The maximum number of these 5- or 15-second frames you can post to your story in a day is 100, but we recommend steering clear of that limit. The optimal length is one to seven stories—after that, more than 70 percent of people stop watching. 

Instagram Stories are chalk-full of fun and interactive features to keep your content interesting. Since there are no likes or comments on stories, these elements are the main way to create engagement. A few are listed below:

  • Boomerang, slow-motion, and super-zoom
  • Filters
  • Countdowns
  • Polls
  • Questions
  • GIFs and stickers 
  • Hashtag #, mention @, and location 

Sixty percent of businesses use these interactive features, and earlier this year, Instagram started allowing these features to be used in Story ads. Stories are also highly shareable. If consumers see something they like, they can send a story directly to another person. It’s as easy as a retweet on Twitter. 

Wondering how you can put these features to use for your brand? Below are just a few ideas for ways your brand or company can use Instagram Stories: 

  • Countdown to a product launch
  • Conduct a poll to determine your followers’ preferences (or just for fun)
  • Promote an ongoing competition, sale, upcoming workshop, etc.
  • Use the ‘questions’ feature to ask followers for suggestions or feedback
  • Post a behind-the-scenes shot of a product being made, an in-progress project, or of something fun happening in the office that day
  • Company lunch? Post a photo to your story and tag the restaurant using @ or the location feature
  • If you have 10,000+ followers or are a verified account, you can use the ‘swipe up’ feature to take people directly to a link—for example, to your website or online store

Facebook

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, also offers a story feature. Many of its capabilities are similar to Instagram: 

  • Boomerang
  • Filters
  • Polls
  • Questions
  • GIFs and stickers 
  • Mention @ and location 

There are a few key differences, however. While you can still reply directly to Facebook Stories, you can only share the story with others if it was posted by a business page. Unlike Instagram, Facebook Stories do allow you to ‘react’—like, love, wow, etc.—like a regular post. Most importantly, Facebook Stories allow you to create a story from mobile or desktop, whereas Instagram is currently only capable of mobile creation. 

Facebook Stories can be used for many of the same purposes as Instagram Stories like asking questions, taking fun polls, etc. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Attending a conference, industry meeting, or event? Share photos, video snippets, or some fun facts you learned
  • Offer some ‘quick tips’ relevant to your industry 
  • Conduct an educational series
  • Filming, shooting, or recording something for your brand? Snap a behind-the-scenes shot
  • Share teasers for some upcoming content
  • Shout out a local business
  • Post a fun selfie of your team

A Few Final Tips

Track Your Insights

Just like regular feed posts, it’s good practice to keep track of how your stories perform. Who tends to view your story? What day of the week are most people watching? Who is most likely to respond to polls and questions? This kind of consumer data not only helps you keep your content relevant, but it can provide helpful insights for your marketing strategy overall.

Crosspost With Care

With one tap, you can crosspost your Instagram Story to your Facebook Story so the same content will appear in both places. This may seem like a great opportunity to save time, but proceed with caution. Each site has a different purpose, audience, and algorithms, so content that performs well on Instagram may not perform well on Facebook and vice versa. People also dislike seeing the same content in multiple places, so in general, it’s best to customize your posts for each platform. 

Keep it on Brand

Last but not least, maintain your brand at all times. Your logo, color scheme, and tone of voice should be consistent with your brand’s overarching social post strategy. 

In Summary

The time-sensitive and authentic nature of stories allow you to prepare less and publish more without the risk of alienating followers. When used correctly, stories can boost engagement and expand your brand’s reach.

Wondering how you can use hashtags to expand your reach? Check out our latest blog post on using hashtags on your social platforms. Want to learn more about using stories as a marketing tool or how to keep your story content on brand? Reach out and we’d be happy to help!

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