InnovationSocial mediaThe rise of Stories and the changing face of social marketing

The rise of Stories and the changing face of social marketing

 Visual content is becoming more powerful than ever on social media. The more we use our mobile phones, the bigger the urge to share a glimpse of our daily lives through images and videos. The usage of Stories is on the rise on social media while news feeds see a decline of usage. How can marketers adapt to this change in social media marketing and what do they need to know?

This behavioral shift has also brought an interesting change in our social media consumption. Stories across all popular platforms are turning more popular year over year and this brings out a big question; will social media news feeds disappear over time?

Earlier this year Mark Zuckerberg was admitting the growth of Stories:

Another important shift that we’re seeing across the industry is the growth of Stories. We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps. That’s because Stories is a better format for sharing multiple quick video clips throughout your day. The growth of Stories will have an impact on how we build products and think about our business, including WhatsApp and Instagram, which are the #1 and #2 most-used Stories products in the world. 

In fact, Facebook seemed to be aware of this shift for several years now when they were acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram to catch up with the rise of messaging and mobile visual content.

Does this officially mean that we’re heading towards a new era in social media? The stats indicate that there’s an interesting shift going on.

Stats we need to know

Block Party has conducted a research to measure the rise of Stories and how they affect the social media landscape. The insights can help us gain a better understanding of where social media is heading and most importantly, how we can keep up with this change.

It is estimated that there are currently over 970 million accounts who post Stories daily on Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger.

If this number is not impressive enough, it certainly grabs our attention by the fact that there has been an 842% lift from early 2016, while the growth was 15x higher than news feeds from Q2 2016 to Q3 2017.

And the growth is not slowing down soon, as there is an estimate that there will be more than 1 billion social accounts using Stories by the end of the year.

When it comes to projections, Facebook has also predicted that Stories would surpass sharing to news feeds in 2019.

How Instagram and Snapchat have contributed to this trend

Snapchat has been the source of inspiration for this trend that took over all the big social platforms. It was the popularity among younger demographics and the rise of ephemeral content through vertical video narratives that skyrocketed its popularity.

It is estimated that 81% of its daily users post Stories, as it’s a core feature of the platform. In fact, it was Snapchat’s decision to place its camera feature at the centre of the app’s focus that brought this gradual growth that many apps now imitate.

However, it was Instagram that took this trend to the next level by introducing it to a larger audience. There are currently more than 300 million daily Stories user on Instagram, which accounts for 60% of its audience.

When it comes to businesses, more than 50% of them create Instagram Stories each month and this statistic is expected to increase over the next months.

How businesses use Instagram Stories

Block Party took a closer look at how businesses use Instagram Stories in an attempt to understand the best practices and how the audience engages with these Stories.

The monitoring of 100 companies over two weeks led to the observation that 79% of these businesses posted Stories, while 97% of them posted on their newsfeeds.

This means that they’re certainly active on Instagram and they’ve already started exploring how Stories can be part of their social media strategy. The average posting frequency for Stories has been 2.9 Stories per week, while these brands had an average of 8 posts per Story during this period.

The posting strategies seemed to be different depending on the vertical of each brand, which means that if you haven’t experimented yet with Stories for your business, you can seek for inspiration from other companies in your industry to find the sweet spot for their audience.

How marketers can adapt to this change

As this shift takes place marketers should be at the forefront of this trend to stay relevant to their audience while they future-proof their social strategy.

As of today, many brands have already shyly experimented with posting Stories across a platform. However, not all of them see it as an integral part of their strategy, but more of a test to maintain the engagement with their audience.

Here are five tips on how to keep up with the change to improve your social presence

  • Be more strategic with Stories

It’s the right time now to start being more strategic with the Stories that you’re posting. They can be a great way to increase your engagement with your audience by grabbing their attention. There’s no need to keep posting Stories sporadically. Start treating them as any other social content and plan the week (or month) ahead, if possible.

The more you integrate the Stories into your social strategy, the easier it will be to pay the right attention to them.

  • Focus on what works

You don’t need to abandon your existing social strategy to focus exclusively on Stories. If you already know what works for your audience, then make sure that you stay consistent.

Stories can be a great addition to your strategy but you don’t need to ignore all the other content types that can also be successful for your brand.

Find a balance between what works and what could potentially work.

  • Leave space for experimentation

There needs to be a balance between what works in your social strategy and what you need to try out. Experimentation can help you maintain your creativity and your relevance for your audience but if you only focus on new ideas without maintaining what currently works, you’re risking of losing what you’ve already built.

Save some time for experimentation as part of your strategy and always make sure that you’re measuring the results to draw the right conclusions.

For example, if you’ve just started posting Stories more strategically, you don’t need to abandon the news feed posts. However, if in the longer term Stories lead to higher engagement then you can allocate your time more strategically towards these two.

  • Follow the trends (and what the experts are doing)

There’s no right or wrong way when creating Stories. But there are many brands among different industries that have already mastered the Stories strategy.

Don’t be afraid to keep an eye on them to get inspired by their content. What’s important is to tailor all the creative ideas in the best possible way for your audience and that’s when your strategy can help.

Moreover, it’s useful to follow the trends that shift our posting habits. For example, AR or GIF stickers have started showing up and they tend to be more engaging for users.

Bring multiple teams together to brainstorm how you can create more appealing Stories through a mix of brand, marketing and video production and design skills.

  • Tell a story, create a narrative

Stories don’t have to tell a story in just one post. In fact, many brands use Stories as part of a narrative creating a complete Story through a series of posts.

As with the planning for news feed posts, you need to create appealing and engaging content to grab your audience’s attention. Storytelling can always be successful in social media and Stories offer the right format to experiment with it.

For example, The New York Times has posted long-form content Stories quite frequently in an attempt to highlight their journalistic perspective. This reminds us of the numerous ways we can use the new format, depending on what our target audience would enjoy.

Moreover, you can offer exclusive behind-the-scenes content during an event, short videos of upcoming videos, quick how-to videos, excerpts of interviews or even interactive quizzes to engage with your audience.

Involving different skills

The creation of Stories brings out the need for new skills for social media marketers in an attempt to keep up with the demands of the new content type.

Photography, design and video production skills can improve the storytelling process, while these can also bring multiple teams together with the goal of creating more appealing content.

You don’t have to be a designer or videographer to work as a social marketer nowadays, but it’s still useful to have an understanding how all the visual elements can contribute to an improved result. And of course, you may want to brush up your design brief skills to improve collaboration.


Stories may keep growing, but this is not the end yet of social media news feeds. It’s the right time though to start experimenting with the best ways to combine these two to make the most of your social channels.

How can Stories bring you closer to your goals and how can they supplement your existing posting strategy?

Vertical video is on the rise and the integration of AR can bring even more interesting features for your creative ideas. What’s useful is to start testing all the different elements that show up to understand how your audience responds to them and how you can make the most of them.

Social media managers are ready to jump into this trend to create unique Stories that highlight their brand’s message and how their content stands out from their competitors. It’s useful to start learning more about the power of visual content and how the minimal creative skills (photography, design, videography) can help you become even more successful with your tasks from now on.

Social media is certainly changing but this doesn’t mean that we have to stay behind.

All we need is the motivation and the inspiration to push new and innovative ideas that can make our companies stand out.


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