Stories are the fastest growing format in social media at the moment - so popular it is on a trajectory to become the primary way people share things on Facebook by the end of next year.
"There’s never been a product more designed for mobile,” says Andrew Keller, global creative director of Facebook Creative Shop when asked to describe the burgeoning appeal of the Stories format.
“It’s camera first, it embraces the way we are evolving to communicate and interact on our mobiles. It makes sense, it’s a really compelling format.”
According to recent Facebook research more than two-thirds of Facebook users already use the Stories format - which allows people to share photos and videos which disappear after 24 hours - at least once per week, with 63% saying they intend to use it more in the future.
But for marketers the important stat to note is that 62% say they have become more interested in a product or brand whilst using Stories.
Many savvy brands have been organically using Facebook Stories to give their audiences more immersive experiences, but they will now have the ability to target new audiences with the roll out of adverts across the platform.
“If you were waiting in the wings, now is the time to get involved in a new and exciting format,” enthuses Keller.
The Stories format has given those brands already involved a canvas to extend their relationship with their communities, creating raw ‘behind the scenes’ style experiences which would be difficult to share in other formats.
Keller sees Stories as a chance for marketers to flex their creative muscles. He adds: “The language of the Stories platform is wildly visual and wildly creative.
“Visual language is much more expressive and playful and to be able to find yourself in the middle of someone’s stories where they are sharing their day and experiences is a great place for a brand to be able to show up.”
These more immersive experiences are having an impact on customers - a recent survey revealed 56% of users say that after seeing a brand Story they have browsed a brand's website to get more information, half have visited a website to buy it, 38% have talked to someone about it and 34% have gone to a store to buy it. Those are serious numbers.
In terms of what people are looking for from brands in their Stories feed it is perhaps unsurprisingly, quick and easy to understand content which comes out on top, alongside information on sales and promotions (both with 51%).
However marketers should also be looking to showcase new products (44%), offer tips and advice (45%), but importantly users want them to ‘feel real’ (46%).
Keller says he has seen a difference in the way marketers are using the paid placements compared to their organic placements on Instagram, where the advertising function was rolled out last January.
He explains: “Some marketers take the approach that I’ve got this ad and I’ve paid for it so I’ve got some things I want to say. They are embracing the language of the platform, but they are pushing out straight up messages about the product and how to use it.
“It’s a little different from their organic which tends to be much more raw with multiple images and videos, where the Stories ads tend to be a little more straightforward and singular, generally speaking.”
Ultimately, he explains, users on Stories expect their content to be a little less polished, and a little more “raw”, as is often the case with the content their friends and family are sharing.
“I generally encourage people to ‘speak the language of the platform’,” he says. “If you look at TV, the language of advertising is much more similar to films and TV shows than anything else. So when you come into these platforms it makes sense to embrace the language of the platform, so we see the use of things like emojis, and it’s a little more playful.”
For marketers to get in that mindset he says they need to understand what people are coming to Stories for.
Keller explains: “They are there to build relationships and connect with people, and brands should be thinking about that as they create their messaging, not just the one dimensional characteristics of how you create something that’s mobile or Stories first, but also something that relates on a more human level and connects on a community level.”
The new Facebook Stories feature will appear as an additional placement to existing options in Ad Manager, designed so marketers can utilise their creative from other executions, and giving access to the full range of customer targeting tools across the platform. Whilst a couple of Instagram Stories formats - Canvas and Carousel - are not available yet, they are expected to launch in due course.
Keller believes marketers who think about the users and spend time tailoring their messages to each product will have the most success.
“Generally speaking most formats work extremely well, it’s not something you need to worry about. But I think for some it’s like thinking ‘is the same magazine ad I run in Time magazine going to work as well in Horse and Hound?’
“For those who want to dig in and think about the formats there’s an opportunity there.”
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