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Since Instagram debuted in 2010, the photo-sharing app has been widely adopted by brands in every advertising category. According to a 2016 study, 86% of the world’s top 100 brands now use Instagram for marketing (Simply Measured), and one survey found that Instagram users engage with brands 10x more on Instagram than on Facebook (Inc.). Now, Instagram’s newest disappearing content feature, Stories, is giving innovative brands a “Snapchat-like” way to reach social media audiences.
Instagram’s large user base (500 million-strong, according to Instagram’s Press Page) and “brand-friendly” format makes marketing with Instagram Stories particularly effective, especially for companies that have spent years building their social media followings. Nike’s first Instagram Story, for example, generated nearly 1 million views, thanks in large part to brand’s preexisting audience (AdAge).
Furthermore, while Instagram Stories doesn’t (yet) offer features that make Snapchat so engaging—interactive lenses, for example, or Geofilters (both of which can be created and used by brands)—Instagram’s searchable content means branded and/or brand sponsored Instagram Stories are much more visible than Snapchat content.
From quick service restaurant (QSR) brands like Taco Bell to leading video game-maker Playstation, these five companies are proving adept at leveraging Instagram’s new Stories feature to create “in-the-moment” content and capture the attention of millions of Instagram followers.
Retail giant Marshalls used Instagram Stories to take followers on a virtual shopping trip through the store and showcase some of the brand’s unique items along the way—something the company would likely never have done with Instagram’s standard, highly-curated format. To increase user engagement, Marshalls used one of their Instagram Story slides to remind followers to post photos of their favorite items with the hashtag #MarshallsSuprise.
To promote the release of their upcoming action-adventure game and generate excitement among the brand’s 5.1M Instagram followers, PlayStation posted a series of screenshots from The Last Guardian on their Instagram Stories feed. For video game companies, Instagram Stories offers a viable way to tease new releases and generate engagement/buzz/awareness by using “must-see” content not often available in official video game trailers.
Leading nutrition supplement brand Quest leveraged Instagram Stories to give social media audiences a behind-the-scenes look at a branded event. Once a Snapchat staple, this type of “off-the-cuff,” unedited content is now available to brands on Instagram as well.
Ever the social media innovator, Taco Bell was (unsurprisingly) one of the first brands to begin publishing content on Instagram Stories. For this Instagram Story, the QSR brand took followers around the world to show different menu items in different countries, including Spain, The U.K., Canada, Japan, and more. After capturing users’ attention, the final photo encouraged followers to see other culturally-unique offerings by visiting Taco Bell’s website.
Another social media maven, Red Bull used Instagram Stories to tease a thrilling BMX bike video, then asked social media followers to “click the link” in the brand’s bio to see the full video. Instagram allows brands to easily redirect audiences to their website, yet another reason why Instagram (and Instagram Stories) is more brand-friendly than rival Snapchat. Snapchat does not currently allow users to click to an external URL or site.