Instagram. Maybe you (and 700 million others) have heard of it? Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has debuted new features and functions to keep users engaged and experimenting on the platform. The challenge for brands is often finding out how to put these new features to use in ways that drive results. That's certainly the case with Instagram stories. Fortunately, there are things that social strategists can keep in mind to make their stories successful.
Social media platforms have so many limitations – character counts, image sizing, and more. Once Instagram debuted its stories feature, many of us jumped at the opportunity to add more, add more, add more! In my experience, however, less is often more. We've worked on stories comprised of up to 39 (yes, 39) components, but shorter stories have generally yielded better results in terms of story completion rate – a key metric for us in determining the value of the content.
Because stories are often posted in real time, it's important to bear in mind that they'll also be viewed in real time – and often incompletely. Sure, they've gotten the beginning and maybe the middle, but if you wait too long to post the end, chances are you'll be missing out on the opportunity to finish telling your brand's story. Time the posting of your story components carefully to ensure greater completion rates and cohesiveness of your brand's story.
Instagram story videos can be up to 15 seconds in length, but for many users that's a very long time to watch a story component. Just because videos can be that long, doesn't mean they must be that long. Longer videos often lead to drop-off between components, leaving your stories told incompletely. Keep videos only as long as they have to be to get your message across – especially if you have additional components within your story.
When Instagram rolled out story insights to brands, we expected to see the standard metrics: views, impressions, etc. What's lacking so far for us, however, is link swipes, which is especially problematic because platforms like Google Analytics don't have the ability to label traffic from Instagram stories at this stage. To combat this issue, use trackable links (using Google's link builder or bit.ly) to determine how many times users swiped up for more information after viewing your story. Once you've got the best practices down, you'll be able to better innovate on Instagram and any other social platform you choose.
This was originally shared at The Social Shake Up on May 23, 2017.