Since it was introduced last August, Instagram Stories has taken off. Stories allow users to share photos and videos that exist on the platform for 24 hours, then disappear. It’s a feature that’s similar to the central functionality of Snapchat, and the growing popularity has put a serious damper on Snapchat’s growth.
With more than 250 million Instagrammers using the feature every day, Instagram Stories has become a hub of activity and it has brands and influencers innovating how they share sponsored content on Instagram. Though ephemeral messaging presents some problems in measurement and staying power, Instagram Stories may be ideal for capturing a moment in a way that’s natural, urgent, and — at least in some cases — linkable. See how top brands and influencers are working together to bring sponsored content to Instagram Stories.
Chriselle Lim is a blogger, vlogger, Instagrammer, and founder of The Chriselle Factor. She shares gorgeous and enviable fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content with her #FactorFam fanbase across a number of platforms. Lim has over 950,000 followers on Instagram, and frequently partners with brands like Lakmé Makeup, Papyrus, and Fossil.
Using Instagram Stories, Lim featured several Caudalie products, including eye masks, moisturizers, and teas. The Stories installments were simple, with Lim dubbing the Caudalie products “New Obsession.” The brand was instantly recognizable and the off-the-cuff nature of Stories gave the impression that Lim was sharing a part of her routine, snapping photos of the products as she was about to use them for herself.
Men’s fashion and lifestyle influencer and blogger Adam Gallagher has a very specific, recognizable aesthetic that’s high quality and captures a classic, timeless elegance and an effortless sense of style. Gallagher’s Instagram is made up of moments from his travels to places like Nairobi, Dubai, and Sydney and focuses on beautiful, idyllic scenes. He has more than 2 million followers and often works with brands like Timex, Armani, and Hugo Boss.
There isn’t much in the way of event photography or spontaneity, there are certain partnerships that aren’t a great fit for regular posts in Gallagher’s feed. Stories present a perfect opportunity for creators to share content that might fall outside of their typical content. So when Gallagher partnered with Perrier and Uber to dispatch #PerrierMoments at the Uber Summer Series — a series of summer concerts in New York City.
Gallagher’s typical Instagram content isn’t conducive to unpolished, immediate photos and videos from events, but using Stories allowed him to promote Uber and Perrier in a way that felt authentic and of-a-moment.
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Huda Kattan is the creative genius behind Huda Beauty and has over 20 million followers on Instagram. Leveraging her massive social presence, Kattan’s created her own line of beauty products, which are carried at major cosmetic retailer Sephora. Kattan’s Instagram is dedicated to featuring signature looks, products, and reposts from other popular beauty influencers.
When she partnered with Smashbox Cosmetics to promote their color correcting sticks, she took the content to Instagram Stories. Kattan’s Instagram has plenty of posts featuring products, but using Instagram Stories to promote Smashbox products set the content apart from her typical sponsored posts. On the photos, Kattan wrote “Just arrived!! Smashbox color correcting sticks!”
Because Stories is meant to be immediate and spur-of-the-moment, these photos gave the impression that Kattan had just received the products and couldn’t wait to share photos of them. It built excitement in a unique way that stepped outside of traditional sponsored content on Instagram.
Julia Engel, perhaps better known as Gal Meets Glam, approached content featuring products on Instagram Stories in a totally different way. Engel’s Instagram, like Adam Gallagher’s, is made up largely of extremely polished and beautiful photos. Her aesthetic bright and airy, and many of the products she features fit right into that aesthetic.
Engel used Instagram Stories not to change up the content, but to add depth to it. One photo was a simple pair of shoes that read “I found the cutest blush bow slides & they’re under $150! (swipe up to shop).” While most of Engel’s Instagram posts feature more than just a photo of a product on its own, the aesthetic was consistent with her personal style, and Engel took her Story a step further by adding shoppable functionality wherein users could swipe up to follow a link to the product.
Another photo in Engel’s story featured a photo that looked exactly like it belonged alongside the others on her account. This photo didn’t feature the product, but said, “I’m wearing this older MDS stripes skirt again today (no longer available) but I found a similar one under $100 – swipe up to shop!”
It’s not clear whether this photo or the other are sponsored, but they both demonstrate new possibilities that arise with Stories. Instagram is notorious for difficulties in linking, as direct links aren’t permitted in captions. Engel’s content shows that Stories are opening up new ways for influencers to feature and promote products on their accounts.