When we typically think of a story, we think of a timeless tale that can be passed on from one reader or listener to the next. A story never goes away. So then why is it that the current trend in social media is to post “stories” that disappear?

A history of Stories

The format began with Snapchat, which has built its entire brand around the idea of temporary photos and videos. Over time, the platform began to embrace longer-lasting content, allowing users to replay messages and notifying senders when the recipient screenshots a message. Eventually, Snapchat’s lasting content came in the form of stories, which remain watchable for 24 hours.

Since stories remain available, you can add to it throughout the day. It’s a great way to show off an event you’re hosting or attending. They can be a less formal snapshot into your day as an individual or a business.

Snapchat stories quickly surpassed direct messages as the most frequently used feature. Other companies took notice of this idea. Stories allow users to see content while it’s still there, while allowing them a 24 hour window to watch on their own time. Consequently, Instagram and Facebook embraced the idea of vanishing content.

Which Stories matter most

So how do you choose where to focus your efforts when it comes to social media stories? While your followership and brand identity are important for this, it’s also important to look at some statistics.

Instagram boasts more than a billion monthly active users, with over 500 million daily stories being posted. Snapchat reports only 310.7 million monthly active users, but doesn’t provide info on the number of stories posted daily. Although Snapchat does claim a higher daily usage time from users than Instagram.

Facebook is the newest addition to the world of social stories, but the platform naturally holds the highest number of engaged users. While their stories only average 150 million daily views (views, not posts), there are more than 2 billion monthly active users.

These stats show that the ways in which people use the different platforms are pretty different. But it is clear that Instagram stories are quickly becoming the most popular of the bunch. For simplicity, let’s make Instagram the focus of our discussion.

Stories make your content personal

After Snapchat’s discover page opened the door for media companies and businesses to post stories, Instagram stories also became a popular way to promote a brand.

Author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk points out a compelling reason why the story format is so popular. Snapchat’s core “disappearing content” format closely resembles the way we interact with people face to face. Our moment-to-moment conversations disappear when the internet isn’t involved. Snapchat took that idea and created a social media platform around it. 

The disappearing nature of stories means that we can now market a brand in a way that feels like an in-person interaction. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts are all very important in building your brand identity. But in today’s social space, you’ll connect with your audience the most by posting regularly. 

Having a story actively available to view reminds your audience that you’re alive and open for business. Even compared to a static image post you put up minutes ago, a story feels more immediate.

What kind of content works as a story?

One of the nice things about the story format is that content can be added after-the-fact. If you’re far too busy at your event to be crafting the perfect story and posting it as you go, you can snap some photos and upload later.

As disappearing content, stories can give that feeling of a passing human interaction. Outside of events, ideal story content should depend on how you want your customers to perceive a conversational moment with your brand. Give them information or a look into your brand that they wouldn’t expect to get in a traditional ad. 

Local businesses should be utilizing geotagging. This is a great way to gain new followers because it allows people to find your brand through Instagram’s aggregated geographical stories. In the same sense, using location-focused hashtags is also important for being discovered.

Stories can boost all content

With Instagram stories’ ability to reach new viewers, that means you should absolutely be utilizing your existing content. Everything you’ve ever posted can be re-uploaded as a story. Whether it’s a random throwback or recent events adding new relevancy, make use of the work you’ve already done.

Once an account is verified on Instagram, it can add the ability for viewers to swipe up on a story to access a link. This is great for linking blogs, YouTube videos, or any page on your website. 

Through the various types of content or links you can use in story swipes, this can be the most direct way to convert leads into sales through social media. You can put your product or service directly in front of a viewer and make a purchase as easy as swiping up. 

User generated content on Instagram has incredible sway over customer trust and conversion. Stories give your posts the look and feel of user generated content. So dig up some old content, craft some new stories and start driving consistent leads.