Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has highlighted that he views the platform’s Stories format to be the future for the company. However, the shift away from a Feed-first format has not been the smoothest for the company. “While WhatsApp Status and Instagram Stories immediately took off with huge successes, Facebook Stories started off slower but it is now growing quickly, and will be in a better position soon,” he explained.
In the call, Zuckerberg also explained that Stories had yet to reach the same amount of ad revenue as its Feeds product due to development of Stories still being in the “early” stages. He added that Facebook was “following [its] normal playbook” of building the best consumer product, before focusing on building an ads product for it.
“I’m optimistic that we will get ads from Stories to perform as well as Feed ads over time and the opportunity would be even bigger because it seems like Stories will be an even bigger medium than Feed has been,” he said.
That being said, the shift from a Feed-only world to a Feed-and-Stories world will “take some time”, with revenue growth being “slower in that period” - much like it was when Facebook was transitioning its products to a mobile platform, Zuckerberg explained. As for the focus on Feeds, Zuckerberg said that people are continuing to use the format heavily and there is no expectation for that to fall.
“From a business perspective, Feed will continue to drive a majority of our growth in the next couple of years until at least until Stories become a bigger driver,” he added.
The Facebook founder also mentioned plans for its WhatsApp for Business offering. This includes additional paid tools for businesses to increase their interactions with customers such as paid messaging, paid ads and Stories. By making businesses pay to send messages, Facebook believes it would make brands “more selective about what they send”. Other features include payments, where details will be revealed in the next three quarters.
How to better leverage Stories content
Today, with more brands eager to try out new methods to connect with consumers, it is not surprising to see platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat ramping up their efforts to play with ad formats around ephemeral content.
But like any medium, these too come with its own set of content creation rules. When it comes to leveraging ephemeral content, Ryan Balingit, head of media at Digitas Singapore, says it may not be a format for everyone. However, if a brand was to decide it makes sense for it, it should consider the following factors:
- Make it compelling – If your brand or the topic you are posting about is not interesting – just don’t. An Instagram Story from Taylor Swift showing the behind-the-scenes of her latest music video may be interesting, but telling the consumer about your latest shampoo or laptop isn’t. Unless maybe it’s posted by Taylor Swift? Create mystery, generate excitement. Tell a story.
- Create a point of interaction – Learn more, download, shop now – make sure you have a call to action to your story. Try to get something more than a fl eeting impression (unless all you really want is for people to see your ad)
- Have a test and learn mindset – The new full screen feature is great, however, it’s still a format with quite a number of limitations. It is a potentially good addition to your paid social activities, so experiment with the various possibilities the format has to offer and see what works best for your brand.
Jeffrey Lim, general manager at, Carbon Interactive, added some recommendations on how brands can better utilise ephemeral content formats include showing exclusive content that might be raw, yet enhances the product stories or features such as behind-the-scenes footage. Next is utilising the polls function to solicit feedback and opinions from followers. Third is to leverage on the “Tap” or “Swipe Up” functions. He says what brands need to do with such features is think of creative ways to progressively tell their stories or make creative teaser content that will lead to the “Swipe Up” feature.
Brands can also use ephemeral content formats to promote an event, which includes using it to generate awareness or hype – creating a “fear of missing out”. Moreover, ephemeral content can be used for user-generated content, which allows brands to include their followers and make them part of their community by featuring them.
“Brands need to realise that with ephemeral content, they can now look beyond the aesthetic limits and think out of box to create better stories for their community,” he says.
Agreeing with Lim, Digimind's Dale says some brands such as Airbnb and Nike have shown great amounts of creativity in their Instagram Stories. However, given the pace at which new features are introduced to Instagram Stories, brands need to commit to keeping up with the vibe of the medium when creating content.
“Brands must remember that users expect posts on Instagram Stories to be genuine and with a high level of authenticity. Therefore, when developing sponsored or branded content, it should refl ect this and not appear ‘overpolished’,” Dale says.
He adds that Instagram and Snapchat Stories is what their name suggests – a storytelling platform. As such, when using this medium, brands should be mindful that their content tells fresh, fun or inspirational stories about their products and brand that will surprise and delight followers.
This is a section of a feature on ephemeral content. The article was first published in the July print edition of Marketing magazine.
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