Why Instagram Stories are great news for Non-Profit Marketeers

Image-1Instagram’s much new talked about feature, Instagram Stories, brings Snapchat-functionality to the platform. Here is why this is great news for non-profit marketeers – and how you can use the new feature…

Much has been written about how Instagram seems to have copied Snapchat with the introduction of “Instagram Stories”… and while it is easy to dismiss this new feature as a copy of the existing Snapchat stories (and yes, it very much is!), it is actually great news for marketers using Instagram. And it has some very exciting ways of complementing the ‘traditional” Instagram marketing ways.

What are Instagram Stories?
Briefly,… Instagram Stories are a new feature introduced to the Instagram platform at the beginning of August. Basically, they offer a way of sharing pictures or videos for a limited time (24 hours) – creating a sort of quick “story” of what you are posting.

Instagram stories can be found at the top of the Instagram application. An important point is that people who watch one story, move on to the story of the next user and then the next, so there is no need to scroll from one story to the other.

Importantly: All the posts in a “story” disappear after 24 hours: they won’t show on your organisational Instagram page (and they also won’t show up in the normal “pictures feed”).

Why is the disappearing nature a good thing?
Instagram’s strength has always been the way you can tell a story, visually. By visiting your organisation’s Instagram page visitors can get a quick and easy overview over the organisation – and catch up on the organisation’s “story highlights” so far. In other words, they can get a quick and relatively easy visual summary of what the organisation (or person) is all about.

The problem with this has always been the “summary” functionality: Instagram isn’t (or actually wasn’t) a great tool to tell a rapidly developing story. For that, Snapchat has always been better: Snapchat gave followers the ability to “check up” on a story quickly and easily – as it happened. And then the story disappeared from the followers screens.
Of course, the non-archival nature of Snapchat has always been a problem for many organisations, as it means constantly (or at least daily) producing new content that can be shared – but is then lost forever.

The problem for marketeers is that most organisations have a mix of stories to tell: some that are good to preserve for eternity, often in the form of a single picture showing the point point or outcome – and some stories that are engaging to follow “nearly live”. In the past, this meant switching platforms: If you had an exciting event on, or a story developing, the danger was that, when using Instagram, you’d likely “overpost”: basically reducing the visible images on the organisation’s page to just one event (or worse, even a back story to one event!) – and risking loosing all other aspects. Equally, people who follow the organisation might get annoyed at suddenly seeing many pictures “clog up” their picture feed.You can now post a 'mix' of stories on Instagram: Current and brand building visuals Click To Tweet

By bringing the “disappearing” functionality to Instagram, organisations can effectively choose to tell their stories in two different, but complementary ways: A more summative way by using traditional Instagram posts – and a more “happening right now” way, by using Instagram stories.

So how can you use the new features?
As alluded to before, the power of the new feature is that you can now tell your story in two different ways: A happening now way – and a summative way.

Take the example of a typical marketing event, such as a fund raiser:

In the run-up to the event, and during the event, Instagram stories can be used to engage followers and tell the story as it is happening “right now” – without the danger of overposting for eternity. I.e. people who want to, can follow the story as it happens, creating pre-event engagement and excitement.
Posts could include pictures how you prepare for the event, details of the event, … i.e. all the sort of posts that make people look forward to attending (virtually or in real life) – and create excitement.

On the event day, Stories can be used to constantly tell the story of the event unfolding, give updates and engage participants – and those that follow from afar (and may join the next event!).

After the event, selected pictures of the event can be posted in the traditional “summative” way: giving people a chance to look back and remember the highlights – and look forward to the next event.

In summary, the new feature gives organisations a great tool to engage followers with “what is happening now” (or soon)… This complements the traditionally “summative” view that Instagram had so far.  At the same time, and unlike Snapchat, the organisation doesn’t need to be constantly producing “exciting” stories to be interesting and have followers – you can use the feature when you want to. This is a big advantage over Snapchat, where the pressure to constantly produce exciting stories often led to some pretty boring “corporate stories” being posted for the sake of creating engagement.

Also published on Medium.

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