Social media marketing seems to get more complex by the day as platforms add more features and more ways for businesses to reach their audience. The latest craze that nearly every platform is jumping on seems to be social media stories.
While social media stories aren’t anything new, as more platforms add this capability to their apps, it’s important for businesses to understand how to properly use these to their advantage. Not only does it give you an entirely new avenue for reaching your followers, but your content doesn’t have to be nearly as polished as it does on your feed.
Let’s dive into a little bit more about what these stories are, what platforms you’ll find them on (for now) and some of the best ways you can use this feature.
What are social media stories?
Social media stories started on Snapchat, but have since branched out to nearly every other social media and communication platform. These are quick, typically 10-15 second photo or video clips that give people a slightly different glimpse into a person or business and disappear within 24 hours.
While feeds are carefully curated, social media stories tend to be more spontaneous. For brands, this can mean showcasing smartphone-captured behind-the-scenes footage, company announcements and more.
The biggest defining factor in stories is that they are temporary. On most platforms, they last only 24 hours, although Instagram does give users the option to save certain stories to their highlights reel for users to view again and again. This helps drive the more casual feel of stories, and can also create an element of FOMO.
Now that you know a bit more about what social media stories are, let’s cover the platforms that have now introduced various versions of this feature.
What platforms offer social media stories?
For years, Snapchat was the only platform with this disappearing content feature. Then, in 2016, Instagram incorporated it into their platform. Facebook and Facebook Messenger followed not long after that. And now, we see it in nearly 10 different platforms.
We’ll show you where you can access stories on each of these platforms below.
1. Facebook Stories
As you’ll see, most platforms showcase their stories right at the top of the app so it’s one of the first things you see when you open it on your smartphone. This makes it a great way to ‘skip the line’ of the curated algorithm on many networks.
Even for desktop users, Facebook displays Stories at the top of their feed, but this feature is definitely meant more for mobile use.
Stories from both businesses and friends appear alongside each other, which means you’re much more likely to reach an audience on Facebook if you regularly use stories rather than only posting content to the feed.
2. Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories appear in small circles at the top of your feed. They’ll disappear once you begin scrolling, but you can easily tap the top of your screen to scroll right back up to view stories.
The first bubbles that appear will always be live videos – if anyone you follow is live – then the rest is a mixture of brand and profile stories, just like Facebook. Additionally, as users scroll through their feed or explore pages, profiles with available stories will have a colorful ring around their profile photo as a call-to-action.
3. Twitter Fleets (Stories)
Twitter’s stories feature, called Twitter Fleets, is relatively new, released in late 2020. This is a way for Twitter users to share quick thoughts that they don’t want on their regular feed via photos, videos or text. (As Twitter’s Fleets creation interface says, “Share a fleeting thought…”)
Fleets are also another way to get your actual tweets in front of more eyes. Just like how users often share their Instagram posts to their stories, you can do the same with Fleets on Twitter. This means your tweet will appear in the feed of some followers via the Twitter algorithm, whereas others might simply find it by watching through the available Fleets.
4. LinkedIn Stories
Even the business networking platform LinkedIn also has their own version of stories available at the top of their apps. While you’re not able to share the content you post on LinkedIn to their stories, this is a unique way to let your business connections get a behind-the-scenes look into your processes and business.
Although Stories content tends to be more candid, make sure that the content you share on LinkedIn stories remains professional. You’re likely not going to be sharing photos while out at happy hour on your LinkedIn the way you might on Facebook or Instagram.
5. Pinterest Stories
Pinterest’s story feature offers another way to share your Pinterest content on this platform, and the different stories stack up at the top of a user’s app. As you can see above, Glitter Guide had two separate stories they shared.
Pinterest stories also differ from other networks because they don’t disappear after 24 hours, and they stay on your profile in story form after you share them.
6. Snapchat Stories
Of course we all know Snapchat the originator of disappearing social media stories. While this format is now widespread, Snapchat did offer the first platform for many brands to experiment with how disappearing content and a more casual approach to content production might work for them on social media. Many publications and influencers have attempted to make something of their Discover pages, but Snapchat marketing can still be a strategy that works depending on your brand.
7. YouTube Stories
YouTube is also rolling out their own stories feature, although it’s currently only available for channels with over 10,000 subscribers. With YouTube Shorts appearing as a rival to TikTok’s short video content it makes sense that the most popular video sharing platform is trying to capitalize on all of the ways creators can share video content and attract audiences.
What to post on social media stories
Now that you know all of your options with publishing social media stories content, it’s time to take a quick look into a few of the types of content that perform well. These seven ideas are great ways to get started on creating social media stories for one or multiple networks, and test out the content that works for your brand.
1. Share behind-the-scenes
Social media stories are the perfect place for sharing the less curated and styled parts of your business’s products and services.
Here’s an example from a local bar sharing a quick video from a staff training day. While their feed showcases professional photos of their food and drinks, this behind-the-scenes clip shows a different side of the restaurant.
Think about what your business can do to share behind-the-scenes photos or videos. This might be showcasing employees or sharing the packaging process of your products.
2. Poll your audience
Many stories platforms have stickers that allow your viewers to interact with your stories. This means it’s a great idea to ask questions or poll your audience to get their direct feedback.
Here’s an example from Grove Collaborative, a company selling sustainable household products, uses one of their highlighted stories to educate their audience and get direct interaction from their audience via the poll sticker for Instagram Stories. Not only can this be a fun way for your viewers to engage with your brand, but you can also use it to get consumer insight on potential product ideas.
3. Link external content
Another great idea is to use your social media stories to send followers to your additional products, services, landing pages, blog posts, lead magnets and more.
While platforms like Instagram require users to meet the 10,000 follower threshold before getting access to add the swipe up link out to external content, Pinterest allows all users to link out to external content. Pinterest is more of a search engine, though, so this makes sense.
As you work towards 10,000 followers on Instagram, start taking advantage of Pinterest and other stories platforms to send traffic to your website, like we see below with Glitter Guide.
4. Share recent social posts
Want to get more traction to your regular social media posts? Share those to your stories so they’re essentially located in two places at once, maximizing reach.
We see Social Media Examiner doing this on Twitter Fleets below, and you can also do this on Facebook and Instagram Stories.
You can also share posts from other users on your stories, which can be a great way to share mentions, user-generated content or partnerships.
5. Showcase products and services
Social media stories are a great place for showcasing products and services in action, or even promoting a flash sale or a daily/weekly special.
Here’s a great example from a taco restaurant on Facebook Stories, sharing a photo and description of a limited time taco.
Create graphics like you see here, or simply share photos or video of the product/service that you’re promoting.
6. Announce company updates
Company launches, announcements or major releases are also perfect content to share on your stories. This type of content gets people excited and wanting to interact with and work with your brand.
Here’s an example from Freddy’s, announcing the opening of a new location. The announcement will show up prominently thanks to the visibility of Stories at the top of feeds, letting fans of the restaurant know and share news about the new location.
7. Repurpose content
Whether you repurpose blog posts into graphics or edit YouTube videos into vertical Stories videos, repurposing content to extend its shelf life and maximize its reach is a great use for your social media stories.
Here, we see graphic design software Visme repurposing a horizontal video and publishing it on Pinterest Stories to reach an entirely new audience.
Make the most of your social media stories
Social media stories should be a major part of your social media content strategy, especially as nearly every major network starts adding them to their sites. The disappearing and casual nature of stories makes them a great venue for experimenting with some formats that are more spontaneous or outside your usual feed content. Start testing the types of content we covered to see how your audience responds and refine your stories strategy across social networks.