by Todd Wasserman
Posted on 04-11-2018
Michelob Ultra’s Instagram stream is a cascade of beauty shots of sweating bottles and bubbly pilsners interspersed with some videos featuring spokesman Chris Pratt—material tied in to the brand’s Super Bowl ad this year.
Michelob Ultra’s Instagram Stories feed is, well, a different story. While the Instagram feed is good for redistributing commercial content, Stories is more a vehicle for the brand’s personal communication with fans. For instance, on Stories, every Monday is Motivation Monday. In the past, physical fitness guru Adam Rosante and former Bachelorette Brittany Farrar have taken over the feed for a day before it disappeared into the ether.
Instagram Stories has become an increasingly way for brands to showcase what they’re up to. First rolled out in August 2016, the platform feature lets users share multiple photos and videos that appear together in slide show format and disappear after 24 hours. By mid-2017, Stories were drawing 250 million daily active users versus 166 million for Snapchat, according to SocialBakers. What’s the temporal draw? To tap into FOMO and get people checking back frequently? Just need a touch of reasoning.
For brands, Stories offer a unique way to market their offerings in an enjoyable, engaging way—an opportunity to let their hair down a bit, so to speak, according to Josh von Scheiner, founder of Von Shine Industries, a PR, marketing, and branding firm.
“Anything that’s more temporal in nature you can do better through Stories than you can through the main feed,” he told CMO.com.
Brands have two primary methods to get the word out about their Stories: organic placement and advertising. Ads run in between stories and are comprised of up to three photos or videos that runs up to 15 seconds.
Their options to creatively leverage the platform, however, is far and wide. Here’s a look at how XX well-known brands are experimenting with the ephemeral format in a variety of ways.
1. New Product Introductions
LG uses Instagram Stories primarily for new product introductions. For example, the brand has launched its V20, G5, and G6 smartphones on the platform.
“They use it only when they have something new or exclusive to share,” said Jordan Schneweiss, social strategist at Laundry Service, the agency that runs LG’s Instagram Stories efforts. “Whenever a new product comes out, Instagram Stories is really the first place where we want to showcase that product and give our viewers an inside look at the techs and specs and all the stuff they wouldn’t see on another channel or from another publisher.”
In addition, Burt’s Bees used Instagram Stories to raise awareness for its Flavor Crystals lip balms. The campaign led to a 22-point lift in ad recall, according to Instagram.
2. Behind-The-Scenes Looks
According to von Schiener, Stories provides a contrast between brands’ slick Instagram feeds that let them show a more unvarnished version of themselves. This provides an entree for brands to offer behind-the-scenes looks at their offerings.
Nordstrom Rack, for instance, used Stories to provide a sneak peek at fashions for its holiday campaign last year. The brand’s Stories included a look at the shoot for the ad at one of the stores.
Similarly, suitcase brand Away has used Instagram Stories for behind-the-scenes shoots in Panama, Tokyo, and Jaipur, as well as to document a day-in-the-life of staffers in product development or on the creative team.
“It’s snackable content that’s part of a larger approach to creating an authentic and accessible brand,” said chief brand officer Jen Rubio.
Luxury brand Bulgari also used Stories recently to show a more playful side of the brand. On Chinese New Year, the brand featured “a beautiful feed with dogs and jewelry” in its main feed, said Ashley Knight, associate strategic planner at AKQA, which worked with the brand on the effort.
“But what was really fun was using the Stories to actually be on set with the shoot, capturing the photographer and capturing the atmosphere. I think people love to see a process that worked really nicely,” she said.
Like other fashion brands, J. Crew’s emphasis on style makes it a natural fit for Instagram. But while the main feed is for glamour shots of clothes, J. Crew has used Stories to crowdsource its fans. Last year, for example, it asked followers to vote for three colors—Heather Grass, Light Mustard, and Heather Cosmos—for its $365 Chateau Parka.
Fashion brand Ayr uses Stories for polling. “It’s harder to do that on Instagram itself, and it’s a bit more immediate in the market,” said Max Bonbrest, co-founder of Ayr. “It’s much easier to respond to a story than it would be on our actual Instagram channel. It gives us a broader platform.”
Added Ayr brand director Nina Wheeler: “Stories are the easiest way to test content and get feedback in real time. With the short nature of the display, it’s also an opportunity to connect with people in a more playful manner. We find that our followers respond really positively to humor across channels.”
4. Going Super Short
As the ad world continues to experiment with six-second ads, home improvement chain Lowe’s has taken advantage of Stories’ format to launch one-second ads. Lowe’s created more than 60 such ads last year that show the transformation of a room, using Lowe’s goods, of course. This isn’t truly 1-second to me – article says each microvideo is less than 1 second long, but together they equal 35 seconds. Which is totally fine—just need to rework it a drop and mention it’s was way cool anyway. J Or am I misunderstanding something? Did each run separately, too? Regardless, let’s call this section something about creative uses of video and then fold the next section into it about OpenTable. Also, would the journalism section fit here, too, re: the documentaries?
5. Direct Response
Stories doesn’t have to be used just for branding. OpenTable employed Stories to promote its reservation service. Short video ads were aimed at diners and featured a “book now” call-to-action. The marketer found the format to be efficient in gaining bookings. It also offered a 33 percent lower cost-per-reservation than competing formats.
Another notable Instagram Stories feature is that it lets brands respond in real time or close to real time. Allbirds, the footwear brand, recently leveraged this feature to offer a Q&A with Jad Finck, the brand’s VP of innovation, around the March 15 launch of its eco-friendly Tree Runner shoe.
“It was the first time we did something like that where it was more of a live story, and the response was incredible,” said Allbirds CMO Julie Channing.
7. To Reach An Older Demo Maybe we should call this “to reach millennials” and then focus on them the most with a little more info about why it’s such a desired generation to target?
It’s no secret the Instagram Stories is very close to Snapchat. But some differences exist among their audiences. “If we were to answer a question of why television show X is investing in Snapchat, but television show Y is investing in Snapchat, it’s typically a demographic user base or scale question,” said Anita Walsh, director of social strategy at Horizon Media. One of those snapchat references should be instagram, no?
Instagram’s sweet spot, according to eMarketer, is Millennials, with some 59 percent of that generation using the platform. Going younger, eMarketer found that while Instagram and Snapchat were neck-and-neck with 18- to 24-year-olds, Snapchat took a big lead for even younger users.
Illustrating the further breadth of the platform, French NGO Care has also used Instagram Stories to show slices of women’s everyday life in Madagascar, Ecuador, Thailand and elsewhere. The organization sent documentary filmmakers out to record such interactions with their smartphones.
Topics: Experience Cloud, Campaign Orchestration, Insights Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Campaign Management, CMO by Adobe