Stop me if you’ve heard this story, but Stories—as in the increasingly popular way to share content on social media—are worth understanding. They’re bite-sized communication bombs that are, more and more, cutting through the newsfeed noise to engage audiences.
Stories are an evolution of what you’re used to seeing on a Facebook timeline or in an Instagram post. Instead of a single, static image, chunk of text, or link (with a visual preview), stories offer brief, active pieces of content that only remain accessible for 24 hours.
And then, your next question probably is: “What’s an active piece of content?”
They can be anything presented visually—an image, a series of images, images with overlaid text or stickers or animations, video clips, or some combination of those. What makes it a Story and not a post is the element of time. Stories play out over time, so when you open one, it plays for its brief window of a few seconds, then disappears or transitions into the next story. You can watch a Story (or sequence of Stories) repeatedly until their 24 hour availability limit runs out.
Take a look at a few examples of simple Stories we produced as part of a digital campaign for Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, California:
Story-form content was popularized by Snapchat, primarily as a novel way for people to share with their community. Since then, however, they have been integrated into Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine compares social media to a “window through which your friends can watch your life” but Stories he calls “the floor-to-ceiling window observation deck”. They give us a broader view and a deeper dive with their unspooling delivery of content and more engaging format.
Stories are more personal and more revealing and so they aren’t for everyone. That said, they are a tool some nonprofits are using effectively to promote positive change.
In its “Stories from the Other Side of the World” campaign, humanitarian aid organization CARE France worked with BBDO Paris to produce a series of Instagram Stories that depict the everyday lives of seven women from around the world, told over seven days. These Stories promote awareness and action around looming humanitarian aid issues, such as climate change, poverty, and clean water access.
These Stories are powerful because they are personal.
Stories are a media format that requires a camera, so you’ll want a smartphone to produce them. You’ll also need to download the app for the platform on which you’d like to post your story.
For a step-by-step guide to producing a Story, see the links below by platform:
Like any media sharing format, Stories can be an extremely effective storytelling tool. How effective is dependent on how the content is used as well as who you’re trying to reach.
So where does understanding Stories leave us? With yet another option in our box of digital marketing tools. Whether your nonprofit is a regular user of Stories or not, we hope you’re glad to understand how—and when—you might extend your digital strategy in this way.
For more brand-based digital strategy wisdom and social media assistance, Mission Minded is here to help. Because in today’s world, having a worthy mission isn’t enough. You have to communicate what makes you unique—online and off—at every opportunity.