The what, how, why- Instagram Stories for business

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Here at Smoking Gun, the finest and most ingenious PR agency in Manchester, we dedicated the whole first month of the year to helping you improve best public relations, marketing, social and digital practices so as to ensure 2017 starts as you mean for it to go on; successfully. Don’t worry, though, we’re not done by a long shot.
One of our posts was dedicated to Snapchat for business– how this platform is being exploited by firms keen to tap into the millennial marketplace. But one of the other major social networks also offers similar options to Snapchat, so it seems silly not to put forward some advice on this, too.
As natural storytellers, anything relating to tales immediately of interests us, not least Instagram Stories. We’ve been big fans of the ‘Gram since inception; clean in design, and focussed on visually pleasing content, it turned everyone you know into an amateur photographer with its easy-to-use filters and effects, and generally meant we no longer had to look at reams of terrible pictures taken on phones. But what are Instagram Stories, how do they behave, and why are they here? All these questions are answered below, so without further ado let’s cut to the proverbial chase…
 
The what 
Instagram Stories add another layer to Instagram itself. Share multiple photos or videos (of any kind), and they can be bunched together in a slideshow, which then becomes a story.
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Each lasts for 24 hours only, which supports our theory that Snapchat-style temporary content as one of 2017’s social media trends. They don’t appear in feeds or on the content grid that contains all your standard posts, but instead all stories from people you already follow appear in a timeline at the top of your feed page (pictured above)- click on their profile icon and the story will unfold. Or rather the slideshow will start to play.
All of which begs the question- how do they actually work?
The how
Instagram Stories do not behave in the same way as normal posts, obviously, but they also don’t allow for the same interactions. You can’t simply ‘like’ someone’s Story, or even comment on it. The storyteller will know you have viewed theirs as your name appears in a list of everyone that has watched, and it’s possible to send a direct message from the Story itself to the person who created it, letting them know just what you think. This adds a much more personal level to the experience, which is another of our predictions for this year’s big social media trends.
The why
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Why is this important? Well, for starters, its imitates Snapchat’s proven formulas- no permanent content on the network, all interactions are private and so forth. But the personal vibe goes beyond this too. Instagram Stories allow you to add artistic details with either a standard ‘pen’ used to write, a ‘highlighter’- great for, err, highlighting and adding light or tough colour effects- and the ‘neon pen’, which writes in white with neon borders.
 
Again, this is very Snapchat-ty, but thanks to Instagram’s background in more serious aesthetic work, it’s less about silly ears and scrawled jokes, and more about putting another level of creativity to the images you are working with. More recently, the network has made it possible to create GIFs from stories to be shared elsewhere, tag people in a story, and even add clickable links to the story- again supporting the whole ‘pro content’ theory. Instagram is also trying out live video as we speak, so this won’t be far away from stories either.
Finally, then, why is this something you need to know about? Well, if Snapchat has created a beast that currently boasts 100million active users per day, who spend on average 25-30 minutes using the app and usually create as oppose to simply consuming in any 24-hour period of time, and this is Instagram’s way of trying to take a bite out of that impressive boast by offering similar but with more options, then you should probably be taking Instagram Stories just as seriously by starting to think about how they can be used to better engage your brand with its audience.

Looking for more advice on PR, social media, and marketing? Why not get in contact or submit a brief to inject a little ingeniousness into your brand.

Submit a brief