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Telling a Story: The Rise in Ephemeral Social Media Content and How to Leverage It for Your Brand

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by Lisa Vetrone

Since its debut in August 2016, the Instagram Story feature has developed into a popular tool for businesses and brands to connect with both their existing and potential audiences. With the new opportunities for advertising via Instagram stories, there are a wealth of opportunities to leverage this feature. Almost directly taken from Snapchat, the story feature focuses on ephemeral content: unless highlighted, stories exist for just 24 hours on a user’s profile before disappearing. With the integration of the “Instagram Live” feature in November of 2016, the platform allowed users the ability to live stream their experiences to their audiences in real time (and beyond, using hashtags and geotags).

What we can observe in the feature’s popularity, and the ever-growing inclination to record and share one’s present moment (however mediated, filtered and edited that representation may be), is the interesting paradox of documenting the “now,” while always remaining somewhat removed from it; inside that paradox lies a valuable channel for brands to establish themselves on the platform while communicating to their audiences.

The “Little” Moments + UGC

Instagram stories allow users to capture what they may not believe warrant a static post on their feed — the less eventful “little moments,” which often make for great user-generated content when users tag brands in their stories. Sharing and replying to these story mentions is a great way to build relationships with consumers loyal enough to engage with your profile, and the potential for social media exposure is an incentive for additional users to tag brands in their stories, driving traffic to the brand profile.

Events

Live coverage of brand events is a perfect opportunity to utilize Instagram stories (and Instagram Live, of course). Because, by nature, live coverage is captured on the fly, the visuals may not always be the best fit for your feed, so posting stories in tandem with static recap posts that match your aesthetic is a comprehensive way to cover the event on social media while maintaining the look and feel for your brand. Utilizing event-specific hashtags, geotags and sharing tagged posts to your feed from other users in attendance will maximize your story’s reach and engagements.

Links

Have a notable press hit you want to share with your audience? The “Swipe Up” feature for brands with over 10K followers is an easy way for them to access your link in the app. Be sure to tag anyone connected with the article (and the website itself) to reach as many eyeballs as possible, and encourage shares.

Interaction, Feedback + Gamified Content

Perhaps the best part of the Instagram story feature is the fun, interactive nature that stories can take: with polls, quizzes, sliders and countdowns, there are now opportunities to engage your audience with features they can actually click on and connect with. If your content is starting to feel too “top-down” with one-way communication, be sure to incorporate these features into your stories to breathe some new life into your brand’s identity and open up a channel to connect more personally with your network.

Added Value

One of the most popular ways to generate IG story content and leverage the feature to add value for your brand’s audience is to supplement your static posts with a story series. For example, our digital team started a new food pairing campaign on Emmolo, which often features a static post with a variety of dishes and more specific pairings in the added story. In the post copy, we’ll direct our audience to view our story for more. This increases time spent on our profile, and is engaging enough to encourage audiences to follow and return for more.

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