If you can’t seem to wrap your head around the frenzy of disappearing stories, don’t worry, you’re not alone! The plethora of options and the war of the platforms, namely Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, has marketers and small business owners baffled as to which platform they should be building a presence on. Choose one? All three? We’re going to get to the bottom of the multiple-disappearing-story-choice conundrum.
Disappearing stories became the raison d’être of Snapchat that took the world by storm with unprecedented growth, particularly in the youth segment. The idea is simple – you snap a picture or a video (up to 10 seconds) and upload it to your profile. Your friends will be able to watch it once, and it will disappear. The individual snaps put together form your “story”, and essentially a play-by-play run-through of your day. The snaps of your day are available for 24 hours, and then they too disappear.
Here’s an example of how brands can use Snapchat to communicate their stories:
This has marketers perplexed, as so much effort goes into curating social media feeds. The amount of effort going into a post is substantive, and the thought of that hard work being so fleeting is, well, disheartening.
Further complicating the situation, Snapchat isn’t the only platform that offers disappearing stories. The concept was quickly adopted by platform moguls Instagram and Facebook, creating near-identical copies, and leading to widespread confusion and a diluted audience across different platforms.
So the question is – is it worth getting involved with disappearing stories? And if so, on which platform?
We’re going to break down each platform and their long-term potential to help you understand where to build your ecommerce presence.
Snapchat: the original “disappearing stories” platform on the market
Daily users: 158 million
Number of available views: 2
Snap expiry time: 24 hours
When Snapchat was the only player in the disappearing story market, marketers such as Gary Vaynerchuck maintained that every brand should be building its Snapchat presence, as the tendency is that once the youth adopt a new technological development, it will inevitably spread to a wider demographic.
As of 2017, we can see that different platforms are preferred by different generations. Generation X and Baby Boomers are mostly on Facebook, while you won’t find many Baby Boomers on Instagram or Snapchat.
The future of Snapchat
Snapchat sets itself apart from the rest with incredible engagement on its platform. The average daily user opens the app 18 times per day for 25-30 mins. Unfortunately, data from their Q1 report aren’t as optimistic.
They had their lowest growth rate ever (at 3.2%), and their engaged user amount dropped 40% after the launch of Instagram Stories.
Snapchat’s growth started to slow immediately after Instagram launched their version of Stories in Q3 of 2016, showing that Instagram did, indeed, take part of the market share.
Snapchat for business
Some brands have jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon to access a younger demographic.
Notable examples include NASA and Shopify. They use Snapchat to provide a look into the background of their brands and to help the demographic feel more engaged and informed. Brands using Snapchat can rest assured that they hold a youth demographic and that the platform users that are seeing the content are incredibly engaged.
Daily stories users: 150 million
Daily platform users: 400 million
Number of available views: 1
Story expiry time: 24 hours
Instagram has already almost reached as many active stories users as Snapchat has altogether – in Q4 of 2016, Instagram reached 150 million daily users. Since Instagram already has a hefty user base, all they have to do is convince them to try out Instagram Stories. In that sense, they’re at an advantage over Snapchat, who, in order to grow their user base, have to convince potential users to try an entirely new and unknown platform.
Instagram is familiar to a wider and older demographic, making it a more intuitive platform than Snapchat for those who are not likely to be early adopters anymore.
The future of Instagram Stories
Considering the rate of adoption, it’s safe to say that Instagram Stories have caught on. While Snapchat’s user base has stagnated, Instagram’s is on the rise. This makes it a safe bet to place your marketing efforts into this platform.
Since Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012, we can expect to see an increased amount of overlap between the two platforms. Already we see a joint advertising platform and adjustments to the algorithm of shown posts.
Instagram Stories for brands
Many brands, including ecommerce brands, have decided to dedicate their attention to Instagram stories. In fact, even Printful has migrated “disappearing stories” efforts from Snapchat to Instagram.
One of the added functionalities of Instagram Stories is the ability to go “Live”, similar to Facebook Live. The difference is that viewers won’t be able to revisit the live video on Instagram. Additionally, Instagram Stories allow you to add URLs to a story, thereby connecting your store to your message.
Here are some snaps from brands like Modcloth and Free People.
Daily stories users: undisclosed
Daily platform users: 1.23 billion
Number of available views: 2
Story expiry time: 24 hours
Facebook has launched its own version of disappearing stories this January, making it the 3rd major social media platform to implement them.
Essentially, Facebook Stories was launched in an effort to capture the Baby Boomer demographic that hasn’t already been swept up by Snapchat or Instagram. In addition to the Facebook app, users can use the new in-app camera to take photos and videos, upload them, watch others’ stories, and send direct messages within the Stories function.
The future of Facebook Stories
It’s clear that Facebook is trying to grab a slice of the disappearing story pie and is vying for users that Snapchat and Instagram have already captivated.
Unfortunately, so far the statistics aren’t that great. Though Facebook declines to share Facebook Stories engagement statistics, respected news platforms like Mashable are calling it a total failure.
I acknowledge that one person isn’t a benchmark for the entire platform, but at the time of writing this piece, of my 1,603 Facebook friends, not one has “recently” posted a story.
I’d consider that a clear indication that Facebook stories are far from catching on. That being said – it’s quite possible that the early adopters are on other platforms, and that eventually, late adopters will come to like the feature.
Facebook Stories for brands
At the moment only personal profiles can upload stories, meaning that as a business page you won’t be able to create stories yet. However, this does not mean that the feature won’t be available in the future.
Conclusion: Is it worth it? Absolutely! But which platform?
Ecommerce businesses should embrace disappearing stories. In a study by SproutSocial, each demographic is more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow. Logically, the more you as a brand interact with your potential customers, the more likely they are to remember you when the time comes to make a purchase.
Choosing the platform for you depends largely on the audience you’re hoping to attract. If you have a highly visual product (if you’re a Printful seller, then this is you!), then you’ll benefit from Instagram as a platform, which makes it logical that you also participate in the stories there.
If the demographic you’re trying to reach is under 25, then you’re likely to gain the most by being on Snapchat and taking advantage of the high engagement rate.
If your demographic isn’t on Instagram or Snapchat, then you might want to wait for Facebook to roll out stories for businesses.
The bottom line is, despite the stories disappearing in 24 hours, the reward is almost direct engagement with your potential customers, which makes it well-worth the effort put into making the stories to begin with.
What’s your choice of platform for disappearing stories? Comment below!
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