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According to Sprout Social, Instagram is the leading social media app for brand engagement, producing a whopping 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

 

Instagram recently added a new feature to its app, “Stories,” which allows users to post videos or photo updates that disappear after 24 hours, changing the whole nature of the platform. Brands have begun taking full advantage of “Stories.” Here’s why:

 

Authenticity – Forbes called Instagram Stories “the closest to the holy grail of marketing” because it lets brands share photos and videos that don’t feel like ads. “Story” posts are more spontaneous and informal – or at least that’s how they are intended to be seen. Unpolished posts make brands appear more authentic, and consumers like it. “Today’s audiences crave authenticity from brands. Young consumers in particular ignore traditional ads, expecting their favorite brands to engage with them,” wrote Forbes. Common techniques brands use includes influencer takeovers of Story posts, showing off company headquarters, sharing behind-the-scenes footage of products, and posts that demonstrate the company’s core values.

 

Impressions – According to AdAge, Nike generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story compared to its best video on Snapchat, which received only 66,000 views. Instagram has twice as many users as Snapchat, 300 million vs. 150 million, which makes it the more tempting platform. Fact is, followers are watching and engaging with Instagram Stories. According to The Guardian, Mercedes-Benz reported 5 million more impressions than usual when it first posted an Instagram Story.

 

Free media (for now) Since followers are engaged with Instagram Stories and enjoy getting an inside look at a brand, taking advantage of this free media exposure is a smart marketing opportunity. Instagram has not announced any paid advertising options – yet. However, creating engaging content isn’t as easy as it sounds. The posts need to be fun, not look like ads, but still make the brand’s desired point. In addition, these posts must typically be made more frequently since each one disappears in 24 hours. There’s currently no way to schedule a “Story” post in advance, so planning ahead is required.

 

Hiring a PR firm to help develop strategies for social media content is a smart way to ensure that what is being posted will generate impressions and encourage consumers to buy.

 

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