When Facebook deprioritized marketing content in news feeds to focus more on delivering friends and family content, it caused problems for marketers depending on getting visibility in users’ organic news feeds.
In its announcement, the social media giant said it was highlighting “meaningful interactions” versus branding messages.
What did that mean? Essentially, even if users liked and followed your Facebook pages, it didn’t mean they would see your carefully crafted content.
Today, however, Facebook Stories represent a huge opportunity to get back in front of Facebook users.
Stories appear at the very top of the news feed in the most prominent position on the page — whether you’re viewing on mobile or desktop. Updated content shows first in prime real estate to get noticed!
The stats are great, too. More than half a billion people access Facebook Stories daily. Even more Stories are shared on a linked Instagram!
TAILWIND TIP: You can share Stories on Facebook and Instagram at the same time to increase your exposure.
Facebook Stories gives you the opportunity to post real-time updates, drive traffic to blog posts, or expose users to limited-time offers. Plus, the time-sensitive nature of Stories creates more engagement as users know the content will disappear in the next 24 hours.
What Makes Facebook Stories Work for Businesses?
First, Facebook Stories give you a place to share business messages in a video format. Even if you are using still images, you can quickly add motion, transitions, and text to tell a story that transcends a typical slideshow!
Second, interactivity makes a big difference in engagement. You can quickly add additional content to your photos or video, including:
- Text overlays
- Event notices
Adding native elements like GIFs, camera effects, and stickers can make your Stories pop.
A polling sticker, for example, has been shown to increase engagement by three seconds in 90% of tested campaigns.
Related Reading 📚: How to increase customer engagement on social media
Facebook’s research shows that Stories move people to act.
58% of Facebook users say they have gone to a brand’s website after viewing a Story. And half of those said they went to the site with the intention of making a purchase!
Finally, nearly a third say they have visited a retail store after seeing a post in the Facebook Stories format.
What Do Users Want to See in Facebook Stories?
When people were asked what they are most interested in seeing from brands, here were the top three things they cited:
- Stories are quick and easy to understand (52%)
- Introduction to new product offerings (50%)
- Stories that offer tips or advice (46%)
An effective technique for showcasing new products or service offerings is by using the carousel format which lets you add additional images or videos within a single ad.
Each piece of content can have its own link, which can drive users directly to landing pages for individual products.
You can also use the carousel format to tell a story that develops as each card in the carousel is displayed.
The Brand Objectives mode uses the native Stories carousel where additional content appears automatically.
This can keep users engaged longer without having to take any additional action. The Direct Response Objectives mode includes an expandable Facebook Stories carousel. This allows users interested in your content to opt to view it even more!
What Makes Facebook Stories Effective?
Nielsen Catalina Solutions recently studied the impact of various elements that drive conversions and sales. The study wanted to analyze the percent of contribution each element made to a sale. Here’s what they uncovered:
Creativity was far and away the number one factor driving sales.
- Creative (47%)
- Reach (22%)
- Brand (15%)
- Targeting (9%)
- Recency (5%)
- Context (2%)
Every element on this list is important, but creativity takes the top prize. So how does a Facebook Story fit in? It’s in the name: it tells a story. And, stories can be told in highly creative ways without spending a fortune on production.
The mechanics of creating an engaging Facebook Story is pretty easy.
The hard part is managing the creative aspects in a strategic way that aligns with your brand.
Creative Ways to Use Facebook Stories
Here are some of the ways B2B and B2C brands are using Facebook Stories.
Reuse Images from Other Platforms
One easy way to cut down creation time on Facebook Stories while still delivering a branded, polished image is to reuse social images from other platforms!
Holly Homer, owner of kidsactivitiesblog.com and a 3.5 million follower Facebook page, talks about how she uses her Pin images or blog post images to create a fast, effective visual on Facebook Stories in the clip below:
Update Customers in Real-Time
Once Facebook Stories become active, they only stick around for 24 hours — which means they always contain current information.
When something pops up in a Story, users know it’s not something from last month or last year like some of the other posts you may see so they tend to click on things they’re interested in before they’re gone.
You can use Facebook Stories to build anticipation for an event by counting down until launch or giving them fresh content while they’re waiting for your announcement.
You can promote flash sales, today-only coupon codes, exclusive discounts, or limited-time giveaways.
Looking to hire? You can use Stories as a recruiting tool as well!
Facebook Stories are a great way to create brand experiences to engage customers (and potential customers). Stories are not just about pushing products. Providing interesting facts, behind-the-scenes-stories, or How-to explainers can position your brand as an authority.
Humanizing your brand by showcasing your employees or — better yet — your customers can make a lasting impression. This helps with brand awareness and creating emotional connections with your brand.
Drive Traffic to Your Website or Blog
When you add content to your website or blog, you can let users know by highlighting it in Facebook Stories.
Not only can you drive Stories users to specific landing pages, but you can also use a button overlay to make them stand out. Some of the more common buttons include:
- Shop Now
- Book Now
- Get Directions
- Learn More
- Call Now
- See Event
- See Job
- See Offer
- See More
Best Practices for Creating a Great Facebook Story
Social media works most effectively when you create content designed specifically for social. Rather than duplicating a blog post or website content, optimizing your content for a Stories-first approach will improve performance. If you do need to repurpose content, add context and captions to clarify your value proposition.
Here are some of the other best practices for the creation of engaging Stories.
Embrace the Vertical Format
Facebook Stories are designed to be viewed full screen and in a vertical format. They were designed to encourage users on mobile phones to share content, so your content needs to be in a vertical format as well.
Need help sizing your Facebook Story? Check out all current the info about Facebook Story image size.
TAILWIND TIP: You’ll need to be aware of potentially cropping out important assets in the vertical format, especially if you are converting horizontal images.
Be Creative, But Don’t Go Crazy
It can be easy to get carried away with stickers and elements. If your brand is all about fun, you can get away with more. If your brand is serious or authoritative, less is often more. You want to be creative without being overwhelming.
Pay Attention to Speed
People consume Stories even more quickly than posts in their news feed. Think about pacing when creating your narrative. You need to grab their attention quickly and tell a story to hold their interest. A series of product slides by themselves probably won’t get the job done.
Top-performing Stories ads have shorter and quicker scenes. Research shows that Facebook Stories using scenes that average 2.8 seconds per scene perform much better than scenes lasting 4 seconds or longer, for example.
Fast-paced narratives tend to hold attention better and get the most engagement.
If you’re using a static image, consider adding slight motion effects to the image or use motion with copy or call to action elements. Motion catches the eye and holds attention.
Adding motion has also been demonstrated to increase purchase intent by as much as 76%.
Use Mixed Formats
Using multiple formats within the same Story can also work to your benefit. Instagram research shows there is an 86% chance of campaigns with mixed assets driving better performance. Use a mix of still images, motion, video, and effects within your Stories.
When it comes to brand awareness, consider using persistent branding in every scene. Users may only engage with your content for a few seconds, so waiting until the end to drop in your logo is a mistake.
TAILWIND TIP: Keep your brand visible throughout your content for the best results. This doesn’t mean you need to keep your logo on the screen the entire time but you should try to include product shots, text overlays, or title cards that represent your brand.
People vs Products
If you’re trying to influence people with your Stories or create an emotional connection with your brand, people will be more influential. People-focused creative performs significantly stronger in testing and recall than products. If you’re trying to sell now using direct-response techniques, you can still use people but keep your focus on the product or service you are marketing.
Grab Their Attention and Deliver Your Message
In marketing, getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time has always been one of the keys to success.
With people inundated with so many marketing messages every day, and the difficulty in getting organic reach for your content, Facebook Stories allow you to creatively grab people’s attention and deliver your message.
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Recognized as a media influencer by the Local Media Association and as a digital thought leader by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, Paul has 30 years of management experience in the TV, news, advertising, and digital industries.