How time flies in social - this week, Instagram Stories turns one.
That's right, Instagram's blatant Snapchat-clone, which has gone on to surpass Snapchat usage by a considerable margin, is celebrating its first birthday - and for Facebook, it is most definitely a celebration.
Here's why (courtesy of Socialbakers):
Instagram Stories vs Snapchat Stories usage timeline, 2016 - 2017 ↓ #smm #socialmedia pic.twitter.com/Kkrh7D80r5- Socialbakers (@socialbakers) July 31, 2017
For all the backlash and criticism of their approach, Facebook's strategy to curb Snapchat's influence looks to be working. Of course, Instagram comes from a much broader base through which to boost Stories usage - Instagram has 700 million total users versus Snapchat's 166 million. But still, the lack of growth on Snap's part would suggest that Facebook's efforts have been effective, and are limiting Snap's capacity to become a more significant rival.
Maybe when Snap Inc.'s Q2 2017 earnings are released next week they'll show a sudden uptick in user growth. But I doubt it. And if Snapchat posts another relatively flat user count, you can bet most of the credit/blame will go to Instagram Stories, and to a lesser degree, WhatsApp Status, another Facebook-owned Stories clone, which also now boasts 250 million users.
But aside from overall usage stats, how are brands using Instagram Stories? We know that Stories are getting more attention, but are marketers also jumping on board and capitalizing on this new trend?
This was the subject of a new study conducted by Klear, who analyzed 149 popular brands in 8 industries to see how they've been using Instagram Stories, what's been the most popular types of Stories content and the specific industries seeing the most success with the option.
Their data provides some interesting insights - here's what they found.
First off, Klear says 45% of the brands in their study are now using Instagram Stories at least once per week, with some of the most well-known global brands among the most active Stories publishers.
But more interesting from a general marketing perspective, Klear also looked at the types of Stories that these businesses are sharing, with merchandise promotions, behind-the-scenes type content and guest takeovers among the most popular.
In terms of which industries, specifically, are most active on Instagram Stories, Klear found that the fitness and fashion sectors lead the way, and by a fair margin - which makes sense, given these industries are also amongst the most popular on Instagram in general.
Klear has also provided a breakdown of the types of Stories being posted within each sector for additional perspective on what's proving popular in each.
Of course, this is based on the content shared by these brands, not on the engagement generated or popularity of that content, which is an important distinction to make. It's fairly safe to assume that these brands are putting more focus on the content that's generating response, but it is worth noting that this chart doesn't show the most popular content types, but the most common in each sector. One does not necessarily equate to the other - though you'd expect there to be a fairly strong correlation.
And the last element Klear looked at was where the top brands are linking their Instagram Stories to. Instagram has given some high-profile users the capacity to add links to their Stories since November last year - not everyone can do this yet (right now it's still limited to business profiles with at least 10,000 followers), but for those that can, it provides a significant opportunity to drive more traffic to their owned properties.
According to Klear's data, the most common use of this functionality amongst the top brands is to link to a shoppable page - which, again, makes fairly logical sense (particularly given Instagram's aversion to off-platform link opportunities).
These are some interesting insights into Stories usage, and provide some great perspective on how the top brands are using the option to advantage. Definitely, Stories provides a new opportunity, a new way to connect with your audience, and with more and more people signing up and becoming more active on Instagram, it makes sense for brands to maximize the opportunity if they can.
These notes might help provide some inspiration as to whether you should be using Stories for your business, and how you might consider doing so to best effect.