Instagram Stories and what it means for WA brands

If Instagram can make its new ‘Stories’ feature work in harmony with its existing offering, it’ll be one of the platform’s most successful updates so far, particularly for brands, according to Social Media Perth (#SMPerth) Founder, Meg Coffey.

“Ignoring the copycat chatter for a second, Snapchat has proven there is a huge appetite for “fleeting” sharing on social media, particularly among millennials, so it makes sense for Zuckerberg to tap into this with Instagram.

“Realistically, Instagram can do what Snapchat does for brands, but on a much larger scale!” she said.

With 50% of Instagram users in Australia following brands and the platform registering ever higher on marketers’ hit list (72% of marketers are interested in investing ad budget in 2016) if successful, the update will reinforce it as a brand favourite.

“In real terms Stories mean more opportunities to create and share content with the country’s five million monthly active users; 400 million worldwide.

“Added to that, the new, in-built direct messaging aspect will only improve connectivity and allow brands to literally speak with their fans. It is exciting times for the platform,” said Ms Coffey.

While it is early days, Instagram Stories holds promise of a way for brands to enhance their carefully curated feed, without bombarding their followers; a notoriously difficult balance to achieve.

“Done correctly, there is absolutely the potential for Instagram Stories to become the place to go for fun, quality branded content.

“The feature is made for behind the scenes style content, so I expect we’ll see a wave of that headed our way in the first few weeks. In fact, I think Nike is paving the way right now.

“Live video has Zuckerberg written all over it and this format presents a new and interesting way of playing with the medium.

“Brands went nuts for Facebook native video, so I expect they’ll love this aspect in particular, so stay tuned for experimentation with live Q&As, ‘how to’ videos and workshops.

“UK giant Benefit Cosmetics and closer to home, Australian clothing brand Tigerlily are already doing cool things with it.”

Influencers are also expected to be significant benefactors of the upgrade, “We are sure to see an explosion of Snapchat style, ‘takeovers’ by influencers and creative collaborations producing fun, fresh content.”

Ms Coffey maintains while the early days of Instagram Stories will generate lots of exciting, new content, the feature’s longevity for big brands in particular will come down to ROI.

“We know ‘live’ engagement is the way of the future on these social platforms, but until we can put a figure on Stories the jury is out. Either way, it will be a tough ask to compete with advertising on the channel, which runs at such a high return.

“Ultimately, the best case scenario for Zuckerberg is Stories is a hit and Instagram will absorb Snapchat’s market share over time; worst case, it doesn’t take off, but it will likely chip away at the millennial cohort as best it can anyway.

“So really it is kind of a win-win. Snapchat, on the other hand, will be forced to reinvent or die!”

In terms of traction with users the test will be how Instagram devotees handle a transition to sharing ‘all’ rather than just those ‘best’ moments.

“It is certainly a space worth watching!” she said.

Originally from Texas and now proudly Australian, the “Texstralian” is all about hard work, calculated risks and has a great ‘gift of the gab’. While Meg is a hospitality and tourism sector specialist, her skill and understanding of “social” translates to any application, and she leads the charge for digital empowerment across Australia.