Social & Influencers

Love ’em or hate ’em, Stories are everywhere—here’s how to make them work for your brand

They can help you show off behind-the-scenes content or forge more personal connections with followers.
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Mickey McDougall

· 7 min read

Your stomach lurches. You can feel the headache beginning. You’re already rolling your eyes. Another social network added a Stories feature to their app.

As a frequent one-woman social team, I know how frustrating it can feel when social platforms add yet another way for you to create content. While all these features seem the same, platforms strongly discourage copying and reposting content from other networks (i.e., no, you can’t repost your TikToks as Instagram Reels). And your CMO is probably already asking you where your new TikTok Stories content plan is (hint: remind them the feature’s still in beta).

But here’s the hot take: Stories actually make sense as a platform feature. Sure, they may not have worked well on LinkedIn. But as marketers, we’ve created a high standard for the content that goes on our feeds. Society has long lusted over having the perfect grid aesthetic. Stories are a way to break that perfection down and explore a part of our brands that we may not otherwise get to.

As you’re evaluating this platform feature against all the potential areas for content production, consider this: How could Stories help showcase your brand across different platforms?

Enhance the content you already have

A great place to start is where you already are. While the content you’re producing may get lost once it’s posted, stories are usually built at the top of the feed. They stand apart from the rest of the scrolling and, because they don’t stick around forever, usually signal that your brand has something new and relevant to share.

An easy way to start posting on Stories is by sharing your new feed content there. This signifies to all of your followers that you’ve posted something new, it keeps the page looking active to those who aren’t following you, and it’s an easy win as you start learning how to use the feature.

If content is working really well on your feed, it might work well on your stories. Elaborate on an idea you’ve brought up in a post. Simplify it down into multiple story slides. Or, if you really want to build in public, show the process behind how a post was made. This is especially useful for video or data-driven content where lots of work goes into the output.

By putting on an outsider’s lens, simple things you’re already doing can seem exciting. Build that excitement by funneling it into content for stories.

Play around with your audience

Because the reactions to stories are private, the engagement you get on Stories may look a little different than what you’re used to on the feed. This is a great moment to really engage with your audience and get comfortable. Most people probably won’t message your brand unless there is a strong reason to do so, but reacting to Stories allows them to casually reach out.

Don’t let this moment slip by. Make a connection with users who react to your stories and help them feel like they’re not just talking to a corporate robot. Some of my favorite brand moments have been from simply getting real with followers who reply to Stories. For example, if someone messages your brand with a question about how to use your service or get your product, the obvious solution would be to provide them a link to your website and let them navigate the rest from there.

Now, pretend like someone came up to you on the street and asked you about your brand’s offering and how to access it. Wouldn’t you be excited to talk to them all about it? Walk them through the process of your product. Determine how you can help fulfill their specific needs. Get to know why they’re coming to your brand over others. Make a human connection, so they know there’s a real person at the other end of those DMs.

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Plus, utilize interactive content formats like polls or Q&As to provide quick hits of engagement. People might not react to your Stories normally, but they’re happy to push a button on which of your products they like more.

Stories are a place where you can truly experiment with pieces of content and immediately see how your audience responds. And if it’s not the best content? It expires after 24 hours. No harm, no foul.

Get beyond the copy + paste method

I know it’s hard to create multiple original pieces of content across all the networks while maintaining your sanity. I know.

But you wouldn’t approach your TikTok strategy the same way as your Facebook one, right? (Please say, “Right.”)

Then why expect your Stories strategies to be the same way?

Instead, look at Stories as an extension of your strategy on each platform. Take what’s working and dig deeper. Dig into why it’s working, what audiences are saying about it, what the key points are, what you might be missing. Then run down each of those paths and push that into your Stories strategy.

If news coverage about your startup is going wild, could you share the key highlights from those articles on your Facebook stories? If a product photo is gaining traction on Instagram, can you share behind-the-scenes images from the photoshoot? Soon, you’ll be able to expand on your three-minute-or-less TikTok videos by creating multiple Stories to support them.

Making it work

Still struggling to make Stories work for your brand? Let’s pretend your brand sells skincare products, and you’re trying to create distinctly unique strategies for stories across Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.

Facebook is all about community, so you might decide to prioritize sharing user feedback and testimonials on Stories. Collect Stories, not just positive quotes, from your customers and let their word of mouth shine.

Snapchat is the one platform where you can’t share directly to a feed, so let stories be where your product offering shines. Post product highlights, educational how-tos, and short and snippy pieces that get your audience excited about your brand.

As TikTok’s Stories feature is still in beta, you may not have it just yet. But if (or when) it comes, now’s a great time to get prepared. The great part about TikTok overall is that it’s a great experimental platform. The For You page’s algorithm is solid, so you’re really able to try wild content angles. Try to juxtapose whatever you’re doing on your TikTok feed when you’re strategizing around stories. If your TikTok videos are a little more polished and edited, don’t be afraid to let loose on stories.

And as for Instagram, behind-the-scenes content is always a solid go-to for brands. It breaks up your perfect feed aesthetic, allows your audience to see another side of your brand, and is generally easy to create, making it a perfect place to start.

Stories do truly make sense as a feature because they transcend the perfection we’ve come to associate with social media. Through thoughtful content creation, they can evoke a particular brand tone that posts on the feed really can’t—because of app designs, societal expectations, overall business strategy, and more limitations.

Of course, stories won’t work on every social network, as Twitter Fleets showed us. But for platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and potentially TikTok, sharing low-key, casual, and frequent content updates is native to how audiences use the platforms. Done well, a platform-specific Stories strategy can help a brand stand apart and experiment with content in unique, original ways.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.