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Authentic, ephemeral, “in-the-moment” content is the latest trend to win the hearts and minds of social media audiences. Until recently, the fast-growing messaging app Snapchat held a monopoly on the kind of raw, off-the-cuff photos and videos that today’s audiences—especially teenage and millennial users—can’t seem to get enough of. With the launch of Stories, however, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app Instagram now offers both users and marketers an alternative (and possibly better) option for creating genuine, disappearing content and engaging with audiences through influencer advertising campaigns.
Instagram Stories is a new feature that allows Instagram users to document daily life through photos and videos that, like Snapchat Stories, disappear after 24 hours. Though Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom admits that the app’s new feature closely resembles Snapchat, he believes the format will give Instagram users a new way to share content and connect with friends and followers in an authentic, if impermanent, way:
“Our mission has always been to capture and share the world’s moments, not just the world’s most beautiful moments. Stories will alleviate a ton of the pressure people have to post their absolute best stuff.” (Boston Globe)
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Instagram influencer Chriselle Lim showcases the brand’s new beauty products for her 700K Instagram followers.
Creating authentic, unintrusive content has long been the goal of digital marketers. The introduction of Instagram Stories gives brands a new method for reaching social media audiences with influencer advertising that integrates with an Instagrammer’s content instead of distracting from it.
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Compared to Snapchat, Instagram Stories has a number of features and functions that make the new content format an ideal channel for creating influencer advertising campaigns. Some of these distinctions include:
Instagram already has a much larger user base than Snapchat (three times as many total users and twice as many daily active users), meaning that the potential reach for each piece of influencer-created content is much greater on Instagram than on Snapchat. Top Instagram influencers have larger followings than the most popular Snapchatters, too, giving brands more incentive to partner with Instagram influencers instead of Snapchat stars.
Snapchat has made it difficult to find new content and users on the platform, and even the app’s biggest stars must share their Snapchat handle on other social channels for audiences to find them. Not so with Instagram Stories, which allows users to search and find new users and content by username, hashtag, location, and through an “Explore” feature which serves up new content and users based on one’s actions on the app.
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One of the world’s leading men’s fashion and lifestyle bloggers Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) displays his set of Richard Ginori flatware for over 900K Instagram users.
There are several ways that brands and marketers can partner with top Instagram influencers to create engaging Instagram Stories content, chief among them:
Working with social media stars to create Instagram Stories content around product launches, exclusive events, and behind-the-scenes looks at company culture is one of the most effective ways brands can generate high levels of engagement and leverage the popularity of today’s biggest Instagrammers.
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Many brands are already familiar with how to collaborate with an Instagrammer to host a contest, promotion, or product giveaway. By leveraging the immediacy and ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories, companies can drive audiences to participate and/or take a specific action.
Similar to how brands are using Snapchat influencers to grow their user base, companies can partner with social media stars to develop a Takeover strategy. During an Instagram Takeover, Instagrammers can encourage their large audience to follow their Stories content on a brand’s Instagram account, thereby establishing the brand’s reputation and growing its owned social media audience.
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