Instagram Stories


Passion Panel – Instagram Stories

On 21st February 2019 we hosted a Passion Panel in Covent Garden which focused on Instagram Stories.

Hosted by:

  • Emily – Social Media Manager – Passion Digital


Read our event write up for insider knowledge on Instagram Stories, how brands and agencies are utilising them, what their advantages and disadvantages are, and what the future holds for this platform.

What do you think of the Instagram Stories platform?

Daniela - “Instagram Stories (IS) is here to stay after the slow and painful death of Snapchat. While Facebook is trying to be LinkedIn, eBay and everything at once, actually trying to be Snapchat worked. IS is more volatile, organic and relaxed compared to the main curated feed. The two together is the perfect combination.”

Alex - “Facebook ruin a lot of what they do with advertising and at the moment users don’t get hounded with ads on Instagram. IS will ultimately do the same because they can monetise it.”

Richard - “More authentic feel compared to other platforms”

Beth - “IS allows you to see into the lives of influencers as well as people you went to school with. The feed is so polished that IS allows you to see what an individual or brand is really like.”

Do you think IS should be ‘manufactured’?

Richard - “Some individuals could be protective of the brand but IS is supposed to look more rough and ready.”

Laura - “When it’s not always possible to get live content, you can curate assets which feature your branded content, but also use frames to share other users’ stories from the event. We did this for the Brit Awards and shared branded content asking users to vote for what they want to see next, for example either Dua Lipa’s makeup or Caroline Flack’s hair, and then we screen recorded and shared the winning celebrity’s story.”

Do you ask users what they want to see on IS and post accordingly?

Beth - “We do this for Birchbox and ask IS users if they want to see a smokey eye or red lip tutorial using a poll. Often marketers think they know what users want, but it’s sometimes more effective to ask directly, and encourage that interaction.”

Does planned IS content worked better than going live?

Max - “I’ve seen some bloopers when brands are live and videos just cut out, and when this happens, they’ve lost me. This is what can happen without an overarching plan but people still want to see that raw, unpolished content.”

Vicki - “IS can often feel live without actually being live. Often at events you can’t capture a great bit of very concentrated live content, but you can edit memorable footage to share as if it’s happening live from the event.”

Laura - “For Love Island’s IS activity, we’d often find it more effective to save videos clips to use them in one go, for example, ex-Islanders would read their last text out loud, and we’d wait to film more of the Islanders before sharing them in one larger content piece.”

Lara - “I would never film directly within the Instagram app - that fills me with dread. I’ll always record it on my phone and then check the footage.”

Do you have a social strategy for IS?

Vicki - “We’ve got a very clear strategy per channel where Instagram and IS are split out separately and we don’t duplicate content on every platform because this doesn’t work. Being clear with internal teams and stakeholders about what sits where as not everything should go everywhere.”

Max - “IS have been really useful from an agency perspective, as it offers a unique space to share content that wouldn’t necessarily work for the feed. IS can act as the compromise for stakeholders who want to promote something unfit for feed. It's useful to look at IS to see who’s viewed a story, voted in a poll or asked a question, and use this information to work out whose feed you’re appearing in from an algorithm perspective, and then also who’s staying engaging vs. just watching, especially if you’ve got influential followers.”

What metrics do you measure on IS?

Most of the room - “Click through rate.”

Lara - “If you’ve got a three or four piece IS, it’s interesting to see how many people actually stick with it until the end.”

Vicki - “We do look at impressions at well, but we’re ensuring to benchmark our activity in order to compare to our future results.”

Danielle - “IS is a very hard sell because you don’t have the vanity metrics in the same way, posts only last for 24 hours and even if you highlight them, this feature still isn’t widespread.”

Max - “It’s good to look at specific IS success, as a platform overall and even based on individual post objectives.”

Who is responsible for sourcing IS content?

Beth - “I attend lots of events and gather creative myself but we also rely on the other teams in house who are happy to be featured and also help with content.”

Danielle - “We’re really lucky as I have a great relationship with our ops team and the baristas and these are the individuals who will be able to demonstrate their passion and the brand personality. We always try to ensure that our people are featured as a pillar on the channel to reflect the brand values on IS. It’s really great for the employees too as we go to branches outside of London and feature them on the story, and this shows the Costa craft and the pride we have for our baristas.”

Do you use stickers or GIFs?

Vicki - “We make our own stickers and GIFs on GIPHY so we know when users are creating content, they can be adding our branding to their IS. All you need is a verified GIPHY Business Account using a searchable terms, so for example ‘Race for Life’ is great for us as there aren’t many other gifs using the same name. It’s not just about adding your logo though, you need to think about what users actually want, so we create a medal which flashes and some pink confetti because that’s what the runners use. The more we use those stickers on our IS, the more exposure it gives the GIFs to our followers.”

Danielle - “It’s great to make generic brand gifs as well because they’re there for life.”

Richard - “We did an experiment using a Monzo card with wings, and it’s had millions of impressions.”

Alex - “Most of our big clients have verified GIPHY accounts now and we book in design time to create stickers and GIFs. For horse racing events when people are already using stickers and GIFs, it’s better that they’re using our client’s branding.”

Daniela - “We have millions of impressions on our GIFs and stickers and we try to measure success for GIPHY in this way as it’s brand exposure, but it’s obviously hard to quantify compared to other channels as there’s no direct result.”

Alex - “It’s good to think about how huge the reach could be when you get the perfect reaction from one of your assets. If you think of NFL or US TV shows, they’re doing GIPHY stories of key moments from their show and they’re smashing it.”

Laura - “We use a system called Grabyo when the programmes are on which clips live from TV so you can pull a clip as it airs, and then convert it to a GIF within the platform. All of the team at ITV Creative can then access the same GIFs which is really useful to use between the brand feeds and the show feeds.”

Vicki - “I think the greatest thing about IS is that the content should be a little ‘rougher’ as it’s only there for 24 hours. It’s teaching people that it doesn’t matter. It’s taking a step back sometimes and if there’s a typo in something, what’s the worst that’s going to happen. It just shows we’re human.”

What are your thoughts on IGTV?

Vicki - “I know now you can see someone’s IGTV videos in their profile which you couldn’t previously, and they’re obviously appearing in the feed at lot more too.”

Alex - “There are a lot more notifications about IGTV at the moment.”

Daniela - “There’s a lot more IGTV content in Explore at the moment too, and sometimes I’ll watch something in feed and then realise it’s IGTV and be annoyed!”

Vicki - “It’s funny because you’ll sit and watch IS for 20 minutes on the bus, but if there’s one 20-minute video on IGTV, I’m not interested.”

Max - “I think they’re ahead of the game and we’re actually not ready for it. Viewability is going more vertical, YouTube is going vertical, and as soon as another big player joins vertical viewing, that’s going to be the next generation.”

Lara - “I follow a brand called SheerLuxe and they do a tutorial on IS every Thursday. I won’t ever seek out the tutorials, but if I happen to see them I’ll usually watch all of one because it’s split into sections using IS, you can flick through and it feels like less commitment than watching a 5-minute YouTube video.”

What do you think of the Instagram Direct Messages moving to desktop?

Alex - “I do a lot of UGC hunting on Instagram and this will make my life a lot easier when asking for permissions for repurposing content.”

Danielle - “Perhaps it’s time to rethink Instagram being a purely visual platform as there is so much to say for customer service and interaction on Instagram DMs.”

Do you share IS on Facebook?

Danielle - “We share our IS on Facebook which works well with the older demographic on who usually reply to our Stories.”

Laura - “We do it sometimes because if we’re making the content, and it’s really easy to share.”

Alex - “We auto-share IS on Facebook for one of my charity clients because that’s where they started building their online audience, and by sharing now everybody’s covered. Especially if your main objective is reach or impressions, this is a really useful strategy.”

Danielle - “It depends on the demographic I think; if I see a Facebook Story I won’t watch it but if an older generation is likely to, then it makes sense for that audience.”

Beth - “It also depends on what country you’re in; in the UK Facebook Stories aren’t as popular as other countries.”

Vicki- “Something we haven’t used that much but is quite useful, in Facebook Events you can add Facebook Stories to the event page which is a great way to shape a community and great for UGC. The Stories then appear as ‘Event Stories’ rather than from your page.”

How do you use Instagram Highlights?

Emily - “We’ve started to use this for our agency brand and also clients too as it means you don’t ‘lose’ great content you’ve created.”

Lara - “I’m using Unfold at the moment to run an IS Experiment where you can make the IS look a little different but keep them on brand. I want to review all of the highlights we have because some are a few months old and determine how much content we want to keep within a Highlight, and how long do you keep it in the Highlight for.”

Richard - “We’re just using Highlights at the moment as shortcuts to our blog and forum, for example. The maintenance of Instagram Highlights is another job in itself.”

Max - “I think the first thing you see on Highlights is really important because if you click on one and it’s from 38 weeks ago and you can see there are 40+ videos in one Highlight, you’re not likely to click through.”

Emily - “I think if it’s done right they can be really insightful; in the same way on the feed you’re drawn to IS, on someone’s profile, Instagram Highlights can act as a brand’s first impression.”

Max - “They’re an interactive bio.”

Laura - “Highlights are useful for prospective audiences as it’s likely they’ll watch them to get to know a brand or individual, so they should document who you are and what you do.”

Vicki - “Slimming World do blank calendars on IS and users can screenshot them, add how much weight they’ve lost each week and then share them on their Story. They have a Highlight for all their calendar templates so users can always go in and find them.”

Danielle - “I’ve seen some brands create images you can use as a wallpaper on your phone and then save these to a Highlight. It’s a great way to have you branding out there.”

Do you expect we’ll see non-skippable ads in IS soon?

Max - “Yes, at the moment we’re in control and you can skip an ad in a second, but it’s likely this will be further monetised in the future.”

What’s the view rate on your IS activity?

Lara- “We have nearly 200K followers and an average number of impressions on IS would be around 5% of this, but it depends on the time of day and if we use hashtags, for example. I’ll also usually put up an IS at the same time as an Instagram post so that users go onto Instagram and see our branding. Often the IS will support the post and vice-versa.”

Do you see IS as a good ad placement?

Vicki - “We usually only run paid brand campaigns on IS and leave direct response campaigns for other platforms, but we recently test IS and actually saw really high CTRs so we’ll probably start to use these more. We also ran a test in 2018, comparing IS with Snapchat with the same demographic (18-55 female), messaging, creative, same spend and sample size etc., but Snapchat actually performed much better in terms of CTRs. We’re going to do some organic Snapchat testing for engagement this year too because we’ve never really used it before.”

Max - “We find cold low-value (inexpensive jewellery, for example) products perform well on IS with a lower CPA and it’s relatively cheap at the moment in terms of media space to buy. Hot retargeting on high-value products also works well on IS.”

Lara - “I’d be really interested in seeing some stats from IS about how long someone holds on your story and how many times someone rewatches a Story.”

Beth - “I think it’s almost a compulsion when you see a red circle around something and you want to click on it to get rid of it!”

Max - “Adidas had a really good take on IS using gamification, where you have to try and stop a runner in the perfect place using the hold function (which I’m sure always happens on the third Story). They didn’t try and sell or tell me anything but it caught me and I interacted because it’s something different.”

Emily - “I went to a Facebook creative event recently where they ran through their ‘Pitch, Play, Plunge’ strategy, where you ‘pitch’ your campaign using informative creative and messaging, then alongside it run the ‘play’ ads where you use some elements of gamification or disruptive motion to relay the same message, as well as the ‘plunge’ ads, where you deepen the story (what’s the story behind the story?), get someone else to tell the message or personalise the message.”

Will you be using the new Donate feature?

Vicki - “Originally when Facebook introduced Charitable Donations, they didn’t really think about any of the implications such as Gift Aid or attribution, so we didn’t switch it on for Facebook until our legal and compliance teams are happy with how it works. I imagine the Donate sticker will be linked to Charitable Donations on Facebook, so you’ll have to have this before you can use it. It’s confusing our supporter journey because someone might do their fundraising for Race for Life on Facebook, but you we can’t connect that to their fundraising pages so they’ll get a fundraising reminder.”

Daniela - “What’s really appealing about Facebook’s Charitable Donations is how user-friendly it is, and it’s so easy to donate. You lose out on the data you might otherwise collect in terms of attribution, and as Vicki said, it messes with the supporter development. We would usually send updates to someone who’s donated, detailing how they’ve helped, but with no attribution it’s difficult to do this.”

In terms of the other IS features, such as the countdown, hashtags, questions, stickers, polls, which are your favourite?

Alex - “We’re not too sure with hashtags at the moment because how many people actually look through the story of a hashtag? Locations are good if you want people to know where you are but many aren’t very good improving reach, just engagement.”

Vicki - “With regards to questions, we did a few Live Facebook Q&As but you’re at the mercy of being ‘live’, so you could run the risk of no questions being submitted. However, with IS, you can submit questions and the public can’t see who submitted them if they’re answered, so in theory you could ask your own questions.”

Richard - “We love the questions sticker - it’s my favourite thing. We’ll ask questions such as ‘what do you want to know about savings?’ or ‘what do you want to know about our hiring process?’ or even as simple as ‘what are you saving for at the moment’ and we get a huge response to this type of content.”

Have you used subtitles in IS?

Laura - “I’ve seen a few brands but particularly influencers using text on IS to subtitle what they’re saying. I know it’s really time consuming but I enjoy it because it makes me read along with what they’re saying (and sometimes faster than they’re saying it so I can skip forward), whereas if it was a video of them just speaking, I’d probably skip past it.”

Lara - “There was some conversation on Twitter a while ago about making content more accessible by adding subtitles for example.”

Alex - “On the Instagram feed they’ve already got descriptives - so a button will explain out loud what’s in the picture.”

Who does IS really well?

Alex - “Lots of beauty accounts, for example Bite Beauty & Sephora are really good at staying in the conversation. Their content doesn’t have to be super polished but they usually use high res images which makes a huge difference for IS. They’re constantly reminding you of their products and campaigns that they’re running and it always looks effortless. Their Stories always look like they fit with my other IS too.”

Lara - “People create an echo chamber for themselves from the brands they follow. I would also say beauty brands as they tend to know their audience so, so well.”

Beth - “Speaking of beauty brands, Benefit Cosmetics do really good IS, the people in their office do the stories, they do loads of national awareness days and challenges and it’s really fun and engaging. I also love Finch Bakery’s IS; they’re a small bakery from Yorkshire and people drive from all over the UK to visit. They’ve got around 70K Instagram followers now and one of the girls in the bakery just used to go live and talk and she now works for MTV!”

Lara - “Georgia’s Cakes also produces great content like tutorials and she speeds them up for IS so they’re really digestible.”

Emily - “I think National Geographic do really engaging IS as they’ll go behind the scenes for some of their shoots and show the ‘reality’ of where they’re filming.

Vicki - “I think some of the news outlets do IS really well as the way we now consume news is slightly different - we just want the headlines or snippets, and the Guardian have done some great IS using headline stats which lend themselves really well to IS.”