If you’re an Instagram fan, you’ve probably already heard of their recent release, Instagram Stories. A fairly obvious attempt to take on upstart rival Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows users to “build up a ‘story’ of their last 24 hours, sharing a set of images and videos and overlaying them with text and graphics that their followers can watch and flick through.” Like Snapchat, these videos also vanish after a set amount of time.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in this case, Instagram is pouring it on thick. Instagram Stories is virtually identical to Snapchat’s Stories—right down to the name—something Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom acknowledges, saying “They deserve all the credit … This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”
So, why would Instagram, an already hugely successful image and video sharing app owned by Facebook, go out of their way to virtually copy what their competition is doing (never mind the potential for a lawsuit!)? The answer, as usual, lies with the almighty dollar. The marketing dollar, that is.
How To Win With Instagram Stories
Using Instagram for marketing purposes isn’t new, but it is growing faster than anyone might have originally expected. Recent studies revealed that in 2015, a whopping 86 percent of the world’s top 100 brands used Instagram for marketing, up from 71 percent the year prior. And 2016 will surely be even higher. Engagement seems to be the biggest draw, with brand engagement rates 10 times higher than on Facebook.
And while it sounds counter-intuitive to use a “disappearing (after 24 hours) medium” like Instagram Stories for marketing purposes, where there’s a will there’s a way, and some smart brands are already succeeding. Here’s how.
The Tease: For gamers, a new release always creates buzz. The highly anticipated “The Last Guardian” won’t be released until the end of October, but PlayStation’s 5.1 million Instagram followers are being treated to previously unreleased screen shots of the game on their Instagram Stories feed. If you aren’t there at the right time—poof—you miss it.
The Reveal: Need proof? Look to Nike. Nike’s best Snapchat video got 66,000 views. But when the company used its Michael Jordan brand Jumpman23 Instagram account to unveil a new Michigan football jersey, the post generated 800,000 views in 24 hours, proving that the “see it now before it’s gone” approach is a massive draw. Pretty good ROI, in our opinion.
The “Behind the Scenes”: Many in the world of fashion are massive online influencers, paid to push product and set trends. There’s no disputing fashion’s appeal to the general public, and it’s an industry supremely suited (no pun intended) for a visual medium such as Instagram. British Vogue and high fashion brands like Burberry use Instagram Stories to share intimate “behind the scenes” images of photo shoots, runway shows, even “inside the office” shots, providing consumers with what feels like a personal sneak-peak into this very private, VERY exclusive world.
You don’t have to be a multi-billion dollar brand to make Instagram Stories part of your marketing strategies. Hopefully the above examples inspire some creative thinking around what you can do with your business, no matter how large or small. But just remember, whatever you post, in 24 hours, it’s gone!