If you use Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat, you may already know about Stories. Snapchat started this phenomenon and it changed the game. Essentially, Stories are photos and videos stitched together into a narrative, which you can watch on any of these apps as though you're tuned in to a TV channel featuring your friend, celebrity, or brand that you follow. You can watch these for 24 hours before they disappear.
Now (and social media managers everywhere are watching this news with popcorn in hand), Facebook has made a big move to clone this feature from Snapchat and Instagram onto your Newsfeed. Here's what it looks like:
Here are guides for getting started if you want to try out Stories on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Snapchat, although the functionality is pretty similar across each channel. You can share Stories with specific contacts, or just keep them public for everyone to see.
People get REALLY creative with their stories, and what's interesting about it is this: these photos and videos aren't the highly-curated and edited pieces you typically see on Instagram or Pinterest. Rather, they're in-the-moment and spontaneous, and tell an entirely different story than something that is styled, cropped, and color-corrected. Also, you can augment your photos with Filters to make them more interesting (which is why you see so many videos of your friends with puppy ears and flower crowns) or doodle on them and add frames and text.
Many companies are still trying to figure out just how to use these features to their advantage. They might send an intrepid intern off with their iPhone to record folks at a conference or snap photos around the office with some fun captions, and we're glad that they're experimenting! But we think you can do better.
Here's how you can get more creative with Stories, since (like video) they're not going anywhere:
- We mentioned that you can chronicle events, but don't just limit it to conferences. If you're doing work in an unusual place, like in a cabana poolside, share it with us! If you're at a cool networking event, feature some of the interesting people you've met and do some mini-interviews. Show people where you are, but only if it's truly interesting; there are only so many photos and videos of conference tables and podiums that a user can take.
- Many people record their laptop screens while they're scrolling on their website to show off a new blog post or feature, which is an easy way to make a quick video. If you don't have the ability to add a link to your Story (that feature is on its way), make sure you've got a link front and center on your profile so interested folks can easily find the content that you're sharing.
- If you go the “Day in the Life” route, make it a little more interesting. Feature one staffer per week who could use a little appreciation, or even let them take over the feed for the day to give insight into what they do AND who they are. It’s a great way to demonstrate the real value of your staff, especially if you help them plan out their story ahead of time, and you might find out that your finance associate is also a social media master!
- Celebrate your successes and share your challenges. Did you make a big sale that you're super excited about? Did you form a new partnership or meet an inspiring contact? Are you releasing a new product and want to get some feedback? This is a way to tap into your resources, so use it to your advantage and learn from your audience.
- Turn a blog post into a Story with text and visuals. If you've got a post going up with a how-to, upload each step from the article into photos or video strung together on your feed. People can swipe through the content and read your article in a new way, and it will help you think about how to make your blog more visually interesting, too. Think about it like a slideshow, and use Canva to create graphics that you can download to your phone and upload to your Story. And don't forget to use colors that complement your brand!
- Don't just share your work. Do you have interesting hobbies? Are you a long-distance runner or a wannabe Top Chef? Show us some of your personality in addition to your work life, so we can better connect with you and be more invested in following. Your business isn't run by robots, right? (And if it is, that might also be a Story!)
Remember, the point of sharing features like this is to better connect with your audience. So think about how you'd communicate a potential Story idea to a friend or business contact, or even try telling your Story to someone in your office and watch their reaction. Are they confused, or does your Story make them laugh, or do they want to learn more? Practice will make it perfect!