It seems like all we ever hear about are Instagram “Stories” or Snapchat “Stories” but what’s the big deal about it anyways? It’s a new platform for businesses and marketers to influence buying decisions and drive traffic back to your website. The stories platform isn’t going away so you better learn how to use it. While Facebook advertising is still a viable platform, the millennial generation exists on Snapchat and Instagram. Below, I have outlined the key differences of each platform and why it’s important for your business strategy.

What is Snapchat Stories?

It’s a new way to share your everyday experiences on social media and a natural evolution of social media as we’ve come to know it. The Facebook wall, for example, was built for desktop usage but we now live in a mobile-first world. Fewer people are consuming content through traditional means and use their smartphones to engage and interact the world. It’s called a story because you can narrate your day in bite-sized, 10-30 second snaps using multiple different types of content.

A lot of celebrities, brands, and influencers use stories to give people a glimpse into their daily operations or lifestyle that other people want to be a part of. It’s kind of like a behind the scenes access feed. Because these “stories” disappear after 24 hours, it creates a more personal experience among the people following you and encourages you to keep tuning back in and also to create your own content. You can also create custom and branded geo filters, stickers, drawings, emoji’s and even a cartoon version of yourself called bitmoji.

Snapchat is considered more personal and focused on connecting and interacting with people in your immediate circle. Snapchat was built on close, personal relationships while keeping their audience engaged. On Snapchat alone people spend an average of 30 minutes per day while the entire Facebook network spends 50 minutes per day on Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.

“The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report released today”-nielsen.com

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram “Stories” is the same thing as Snapchat “Stories” but on the Instagram platform and more open to the world. You have all the features that Snapchat has but also a centralized location to store your photos, videos and images. You could even consider it a simplified, cooler version of Facebook. Just like Snapchat, videos disappear after 24 hours. It’s considered less personal because it’s open to the world and anyone can tune into your live feeds.

Speaking of live feeds, Instagram has them and Snapchat does not. Live streams are especially popular and impactful at events such as concerts or live games. Instagram is considered more business friendly but that doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. Depending on what demographic you want to engage with is where you should spend your advertising dollars. It takes an entirely different approach to reach Snapchat users versus Instagram. They all respond to much different things and old school advertising tactics won’t work on either. Advertising needs to be much more subtle, thoughtful and to the point.

So, Why is it Called a Story?

Think of it this way. We used to only be able to take pictures. As technology improved, we were then able to record our experiences and share them as a video from the palm of our hands. Still, planning and recording video seemed too rehearsed and clunky. The experience wasn’t very intuitive either even when live video streaming came about. It’s called a story because it’s essentially a narrative of your everyday life. A live feed or a 10 second “snap” is an opportunity to see someone being spontaneous and in the moment. No one can possibly tell their story in one image, video or live feed.  So, all of these together make up a story of which you can share on Instagram or snapchat. The point isn’t to try to do too much in each story or snap. Would you try and fit every episode of Game of Thrones in 10 seconds? No! It would be impossible. The same thing goes for your stories. 10-30 seconds at a time works great while adding in the occasional live stream to interact with your audience.

So what’s the difference?

At this point, the big difference is the user base that exists across each Stories platform. While Facebook also has a stories platform, it’s aged and not as engaged nor is anyone really even using it so we are going to completely ignore it. As our parents and grandparents joined Facebook, it became less cool to post on there. We also had to be more careful with what we posted so the interactions became doctored and robotic. Snapchat has a much different community than Instagram. It’s more millennial-driven and tech-savvy while Instagram stories is essentially the same audience you have on Facebook.

As Facebook engagement wanes, Zuckerberg has started funneling users to Instagram so it’s basically the same community on a simpler platform built for mobile. That community has re-engaged using Instagram’s stories platform to share and interact with the world. When coming up with a stories strategy, it should be completely different for Snapchat than it would be Instagram. Snapchat started this new form of social media while Facebook/Instagram copied it.

Instagram has done a good job of emulating snapchats core functionality while also having live streaming capabilities. Facebook isn’t going away but more and more people are flocking to these story platforms and spending less time on Facebook.

Why is Facebook/Instagram copying Snapchat?

You can read more about why in this article I wrote.

How do you use Instagram or Snapchat “Stories”

You can read about how to make a Snapchat Story here and an Instagram Story here.

Why is everyone suddenly so into telling their “Stories?”

Video content is all the rage now. Article content is quickly taking a back seat to voice and video. Video and voice technology make it easier than ever to record and share life’s most exciting moments rather than having to think of and type them up in a post later. You are literally capturing the moment as it happens. It’s a lot more impactful to look back on memories in motion versus a static picture. It’s also more impactful on the people tuning in and watching. You could argue that this is actually more like reality TV than reality TV ever was. Twitter has always wanted to become the window to the world providing a glimpse into events happening in real time. You could easily make a case for Snapchat and Instagram stories mastering that concept. Especially with the new Snapmap feature, you can now see snaps as they happen all over the world.

People consume content in bits and pieces throughout the day or through streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. If they do watch cable TV, they ignore the commercials and interact with their Smartphones until the show or event comes back on. Traditional TV is dying and there are more options than ever before. There is no reason to waste our time watching old school, in your face advertising when we don’t have to. Mobile ad spending is set to skyrocket in the next few years while digital advertising is set to hit $93.5 billion by 2019. Mobile accounted for $36.6 billion in 2016 with digital ad spending at $72 billion.

How can this help my business grow?

If eyeballs are leaving traditional media and are now focused on their smartphone, that’s where your business should be as well. In a world that values transparency, the “Stories” platform is the ultimate way to show the inner workings of a business or brand. For example, Disney hired a famous snapchatter to record snaps throughout their park. They also invested in original content on the platform so they can engage their fans in multiple different ways. As a small business, you could record explanations of how your business works and what value you provide. Leave your sales tactics for the television audience because those won’t work here. You need to provide something of value that will engage and relate to your customers.

Because these videos self-destruct after 24 hours, it encourages you to keep creating and people to keep tuning in. This plays into the whole influencer marketing trend right now. Influencers are more accessible than big time celebrities. Anyone can turn into one and while big brands have a lot of sway, it’s your inner circle that has the biggest impact on your buying decisions. To borrow from Simon Sinek, People want to know your “Why” and are sick of hearing about the “What.”

Ok, I’m not a celebrity or big brand so how do I use this for my own small business?

Whichever “Stories” platform you use, it’s a way to establish a more personal relationship with your clients. Gary Vaynerchuck is a pioneer in using social media to influence decisions. He’s been touting its power for years while most businesses have been slow to adopt his strategies.

On Snapchat you can create custom Geofilters for your business or event right from the app. All the design functionality is available to you right then and there while also being able to customize how long it stays there. They will only show up in the area of your business so only your potential clients will see them which will boost conversions. It’s relatively inexpensive starting at $5.99. In between these custom geo filters, you can also create snaps and upload images of your business and it’s inner workings.

On Instagram Stories, you can host live streams or even bring in a guest host to talk more in-depth about your product or service. Use the stories platform as an extension of your current Instagram strategy. So, it’s important to continue to engage your audience by adding fresh photos and videos in addition to stories and live streams.

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