What happens on social media doesn’t have to stay on social media forever. That’s the idea behind Snapchat. After all of the intended recipients have looked at a “snap,” it’s gone for good. The app also has a stories feature, which lets you keep snaps for up to 24 hours.
What Snapchat started, Instagram perfected. The photo-sharing app, now owned by Facebook, rolled out its own version of auto-disappearing posts, also called Stories, in 2016. Thanks to Stories, Instagram usage and growth skyrocketed, so much so that plenty of people were happy to declare it the winner in the battle of Instagram vs. Snapchat.
Given the success of Instagram Stories, it’s no surprise that the platform’s parent company, Facebook, introduced its own version of the disappearing post feature. Like Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook Stories are available for 24 hours after they’ve been posted. After 24 hours, the posts are gone for good.
How Do Facebook Stories Work?
When Facebook first introduced stories, it was as a feature in the platform’s Messenger app. Then, the feature moved to the main Facebook platform and is available on the mobile and desktop versions. To create a story on a mobile device, a user needs to swipe to the right to open the camera and to either take a photo or record a video. On the desktop version, a user can click on “Add to Your Story” located at the top right corner of the newsfeed to either create or upload a story.
Once a story is published, it appears at the top of the newsfeed in Facebook and at the top of the Messenger inbox. It’s possible to control who sees Stories — a brand can choose to share with all of its followers or with a select few.
Although Stories do disappear after 24 hours and won’t automatically show up in the normal newsfeed, you do have the option of sharing your Facebook Story to your newsfeed too.
Why Should Your Brand Use Facebook Stories?
What are the benefits of using Facebook Stories compared to creating a post that permanently appears in your regular newsfeed? One major benefit is the placement of Stories on the platform or in messenger.
While it’s very likely that a post you create for the general newsfeed will get buried by hundreds of other posts, or worse, not show up on people’s feed at all, Stories are there front and center. They are at the top of the app on a mobile device and in the top right corner on a desktop.
Another benefit of Facebook Stories is that their ticking clock creates a sense of urgency. With a regular post, a person might glance at it while scrolling and figure they can return later if they want. Since Stories go “poof” after 24 hours, people are much more likely to tune in if they’re interested to avoid missing out.
Stories also offer more engagement opportunities compared to standard posts. People have the option of sending your brand a direct message as they look at a story. You can also use stories as part of Facebook Events, which can help people who can’t attend something in person feel as if they are there.
You’re able to see who has viewed each one of your Facebook Stories. Knowing who is checking out your stories means that you can target future stories to that audience.
Finally, Facebook Stories has delivered tangible results. According to one survey, 50 percent of people have said that they make more online purchases because of Stories. Nearly 40 percent did more research on a product after seeing a Story about it.
Who’s Been Using Facebook Stories?
Just as the Stories feature on Instagram proved to be a hit, Facebook Stories has also proven to be really popular. In September 2018, the social network announced that Facebook Stories had 300 million users on both the standard Facebook platform and Messenger.
Among the brands that have tried Facebook Stories and seen good results are:
- Hopper, a flight-booking service
- Wallaroo Media, a digital agency
- Skout, a dating app
- Tentree, a sustainable clothing company
How to Get Started With Facebook Stories
Creating Facebook Stories isn’t the same as creating a standard post for the social network. Since Stories are time-bound, there needs to be more of a sense of urgency to them. People who view your brand’s story need to understand right away why they are looking at it RIGHT NOW.
That said, here’s what you can do to get started using Facebook Stories successfully:
- Make the content time sensitive. Stories isn’t the place for evergreen content. Instead, you want to focus on content that’s going to expire or that has a short shelf life. For example, you can use a story to announce a flash sale or to give out a coupon code that’s only good for the next 48 hours. If you’re posting a story at an event, highlight what’s going on at the moment so that people feel like they’re there.
- Keep your brand’s voice and image in mind. Facebook’s camera has a lot of fun filters and other doo-dads to play around with. But don’t get so wrapped up in the bells and whistles of the Stories feature that you don’t stay to true to who your brand is. Use filters if you’d like, but don’t obscure your message.
- Know your audience. When you create any type of content, you need to know who you’re talking to. That’s definitely true when you create a Story. You don’t want to create the same story for Instagram as you would for Facebook, as it’s likely that you communicate with two different groups of people on each platform. Tailor the message to people who follow you on Facebook.
- Make the Story worthwhile. However long your story is, you want people to walk away from it with the feeling that they’ve learned something or that they’ve gained something from the experience. Don’t use Stories as a purely promotional tool. Give your audience something useful.
- Track your Stories. The more you use Facebook Stories, the better you’re able to see how or if they’re working for you. Keep tabs on who views each story and the number of viewers your stories get. You might also want to compare and contrast posting times and viewing times to see if your stories do better at one time of a day compared to another.