Facebook keeps growing despite controversies that have dogged the world’s largest social network. In its recent third-quarter 2019 earnings announcement, The company beat analysts’ expectations for growth in revenue and membership. With 2.45 billion monthly active users, Facebook remains an important platform for businesses to connect with their audiences.
During an earnings call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg identified some major areas of growth for the company. The Stories feature from Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns) was the star.
What Are Stories?
Facebook and Instagram Stories are a format for both businesses and people to share content that appears temporarily in the platforms’ Stories sections, as opposed to the main feed. Stories are usually adorned with stickers, text, and other interactive elements to make them pop. As the name implies, Stories share a narrative.
Businesses can use them for a number of purposes, such as announcing new products. In a blog post earlier this year, we shared examples of how companies are winning with Stories.
Approximately 500 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories alone, according to Instagram.
What’s New with Stories?
During their investor earnings call. Zuckerberg and Sandberg mentioned Stories several times in their opening remarks and in Q&A.
“We’re also focused on developing products to help businesses reach people where they are,” Zuckerberg told investors. “Stories are a great example – and we’re continuing to see fast adoption across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.” He and Sandberg highlighted these recent feature improvements:
- Customizable advertising templates for Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Advertisers, after uploading photos and videos, can choose from different layouts, color, and text options, leading to more engaging Stories.
- A click-to-Messenger feature, which makes it possible for businesses to get someone’s attention on Stories and then continue the conversation via Messenger. Zuckerberg stressed the strong interplay between Stories and Messenger as a huge area of growth for advertisers. “We’ve seen businesses use Messenger to reach customers, generate new leads and even sell cars,” he said. “For example, French auto manufacturer Renault used a combination of Instagram Stories and Click-to-Messenger ads to drive sales of a limited-edition vehicle, the Captur Tokyo. Facebook was their only advertising channel, and over the span of 30 days, they sold 100 cars – 20 directly through Messenger.”
- Polling stickers for ads in Instagram Stories. Interactive polling stickers make it possible for businesses to spark conversations with their followers through their ads. In a blog post earlier this year, Instagram positioned the feature as a way to “co-create a product, spark a conversation with your community, crowd source insights for product development, gamify your ad or run a contest.” Instagram also said that Dunkin’, an advertiser in beta launch, achieved a 20-percent lower cost-per-video-view using the polling sticker.
Sandberg said, “I think we've taken our experience on how to help advertisers migrate to right places and have been able to do that even more quickly in new formats like Stories. So of our more than 7 million advertisers, we already have 3 million advertising across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger Stories.”
What Business Should Do
The popularity of Stories cannot be denied. As we noted earlier this year, businesses should capitalize on the format to reach audiences where they are as follows:
- Include video content to give your followers a “behind-the-scenes” look into your company’s internal culture and practices. Your customers and potential employees in particular will gravitate towards these exclusive snippets.
- Make sure your business’ Stories are different from its Facebook or Instagram in-feed content. Stories are a great way to communicate with your followers and audiences in a playful way, whereas in-feed posts should retain a professional quality.
In addition, businesses should incorporate A/B testing for different content types. Doing so will allow you to discover what content resonates with your followers.
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