Using Stories Features on Social Media: What You Need to Know - TurboFuture - Technology
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Using Stories Features on Social Media: What You Need to Know

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate. Author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. Former trade newspaper editor.

Find out what the Stories trend on social media is all about

Find out what the Stories trend on social media is all about

It Started with Snapchat...

Snapchat, the social messaging app launched in 2011, had a unique feature that younger users loved: Stories. In Stories, users were able to post photos and up to 60-second long videos enhanced with text, virtual stickers, and filters. Unlike Facebook where posts could haunt your social footprint forever, this content would disappear after 24 hours.

Not to be outdone, in 2016, Facebook’s Instagram app launched a copycat Stories feature, allowing users to post photos and videos of up to 15 seconds long that would disappear after 24 hours. As reported on Statista, in early 2019, Instagram Stories already had 500 million daily active users (DAU). Snapchat only has 238 million DAU in late 2020. Looks like Instagram is beating Snapchat at their own game.

Facebook added a Stories feature to Facebook in 2017. Also according to SproutSocial, Facebook Stories now has 300 million DAU.

In September 2020, LinkedIn—yes, the business and professional social network—launched a Stories feature.

YouTube also has a Stories feature that as of September 2020 is in beta mode and is not yet available for all video users or devices (it’s not currently available to watch on my Apple devices). On YouTube, Stories last for 7 days, as opposed to 24 hours on most other networks. Currently, only YouTube creators with 10,000 or more subscribers can post Stories.

What is all this Stories mania about?

Why Are Stories So Popular?

In the Moment

Whether it’s because of their short duration of mere seconds or their disappearing quality, Stories have an authentic, in-the-moment appeal compared to other posts. As such, that makes them ideal for content that may not have long term relevance or value.

An example would be a post talking about an upcoming event or promotion, or your commentary on something in today’s news. Once it’s over, those posts become dated, bloating your profile post feed with now irrelevant content. A post that disappears after 24 hours can help streamline your profile to showcase only your most valuable and evergreen content. However, on some social networks, you have the ability to share your Stories posts as standard permanent posts.

Keep Your Social Footprint Clean

Teens especially might be concerned that photos and videos they share with their friends on public social media may damage their future employment or education opportunities. So you can understand why Stories posts that quickly disappear might be of interest to them.

Built for the Mobile Experience

Typically, Stories are in the vertical portrait mode. They are built for a more positive mobile user experience, but are available on some desktop versions.

This is probably the biggest departure and challenge for YouTube. Most YouTube videos are in the horizontal landscape position, although they can be viewed as an teeny tiny landscape video when a smartphone is held in the vertical position.

As with popular dating and other mobile apps, users swipe left when they’re done viewing a Stories post or to skip posts they're not interested in watching. This aligns with how users commonly use their phones and mobile apps.

Stories Can Speed Up the Social Experience

On Stories, users can scroll through the names of the people they follow who have posted Stories. They can choose to only look at the Stories they want, skip the rest. It’s faster than having to scroll through a series of algorithm-chosen posts in their newsfeeds.

New Frontier for Advertisers

Advertisers are also getting into the Stories scene. Ads appear in between Stories, and appear just as other Stories posts do. If done right, advertisers can offer watchable, valuable Stories content that promotes and builds the company’s brand, instead of just pushing “buy now” advertising messages.

The Downside of Stories

Not Everyone Watches Stories

I’ve noticed that my Stories get way less action than my standard posts on Instagram. This might be that a large share of my audience skews older. Younger generations, especially those who may have used Snapchat, might be more inclined to view Stories. Or some followers of any age may just appreciate more thoughtful and polished standard newsfeed posts.

On Instagram, I'll share my Stories as regular newsfeed posts so that my non-Stories folks see any valuable content I post. With a high daily active user count on Stories, I realize, too, that many of my followers may only consume Stories. Going in the opposite direction, Instagram allows users to share a preview of standard newsfeed posts on Stories that can be clicked to view the whole post. While sharing either way helps me cover both user bases, it does increase the time I have to spend creating on social. Note that this type of sharing isn't an option on all social platforms.

Stories Compete with Other Types of Posts

On Instagram, Stories compete with three other content arenas: standard newsfeed posts, IGTV videos, and Reels. It’s a four-ring circus! Facebook isn’t any better, with Stories competing with the standard newsfeed and Facebook Groups. It’s just overwhelming and time consuming. Many users may tune out Stories for that reason.

Stories are New, Your Connections are Not

Facebook, Instagram, and now LinkedIn show Stories of the people you’re already connected with or follow. So don’t expect your Stories to draw in new followers or allow you to discover new connections.

Don’t Confuse Stories with TikTok or Instagram Reels

Though they may look very similar, Stories features are not the same thing as TikTok or Instagram Reels.

For those who haven’t stepped into the TikTok pool yet, TikTok is a social media app (not associated with other social media apps) that features short videos of up to 60 seconds, with many being 15 seconds or less. Like Stories, it allows users to embellish their videos with a host of creative tools such as stickers, filters, text, and more.

But there are significant differences between Stories and TikTok. TikTok videos are permanent unless deleted. Also, users on TikTok don’t have to follow creators to view their content as they would with Stories. While you can officially follow your favorite creators, on your “For You” home page, the highly sophisticated robot algorithms will show you relevant content from many people. This makes TikTok an excellent platform for discovering interesting creators and content, whereas Stories on other social media platforms are only for your network of friends and other connections.

In 2020, the Trump administration in the United States threatened a ban on TikTok in the United States due to its ties to a company in China. With TikTok’s future uncertain, U.S.-based Facebook stepped up and added the Reels feature to Instagram globally in August 2020. As with Instagram’s Snapchat copycat Stories feature, Reels is almost a duplication of TikTok, though with a bit smaller creative tool set, and it is baked into the Instagram universe.

I’ve been using Instagram Reels since it launched and love it. But I realize that it is not Stories and have different objectives for each feature. Stories keeps you connected with your network, while Reels helps you expand your network.

Best Practices for Using Stories on Social Media

Avoid Over-Posting

There are some people that post so often to Stories that it takes at least a couple of minutes to get through all their stuff. If I see a string of many dashes at the top of a Stories post (each little dash indicates a post), I often just swipe left to skip this user’s Stories. It’s just too much.

On Instagram this is especially a problem because they allow users to shoot Stories videos that span several 15-second posts. So they don't realize that they're making so many posts.

Be Consistent

Does being consistent mean you need to post to Stories often or at least daily? Not necessarily. But if you can develop a regular posting rhythm for your Stories, that also helps build your brand and follower trust.

Experiment

Even if your current followers aren’t into Stories, new followers might be. So it’s worth giving them a try. They’ll disappear in 24 hours anyway.

There is a learning curve with creating Stories, too. Sometimes it’ll take me 15 takes to do a 15-second video. Ugh! Keep practicing.

Provide Value

While Stories can be a great way to share promotional messages that disappear quickly, they shouldn’t all be “buy my stuff” posts. I usually recommend a 10 percent policy, meaning that only 10 percent of your Stories should be self-serving. I use Stories to share announcements about my latest free educational videos and podcasts, as well as other relevant and fun content. Add value always!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 12, 2020:

Doris, you're not alone with just relying on Facebook for keeping connected. But that was the original intent of Facebook right? So no worries if that's all you use it for.

Me, well, I'm trying to use social media as a tool for my self publishing adventures. And I have both ends of the age spectrum in my networks. So I'm just trying to keep up with my current audience and build for the future. It's time consuming for sure.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Have a lovely week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 12, 2020:

Flourish, you and me both! I read really fast. So when the content is only in a video, it's "swipe left" as they say.

Yes, Stories can be quite a drain, though I'd rather swipe through those than regular posts on either Facebook or Instagram. My problem is that I have multi-generational audiences. My older friends are into the regular posts, the younger ones are into Stories. So I feel I should do both to reach both. I'm thinking of experimenting to do just one or the other to see what happens.

I'm glad I still have some great writers and readers in my tribe who appreciate text-based content which is my preference. But I'm trying to keep up with what's current.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a wonderful week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 12, 2020:

Mary, I do think it's a bit of a generational issue. I'm certainly one of the older folks on these sites. But here's the thing. I've had a number of my regular pals on HP and social say they weren't familiar with Stories. So we're not alone. I think they're worth checking out, especially on Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 12, 2020:

Hi Suhail! Thanks for the great questions.

Re: HP Commenting. The inability to comment appears to be happening once an article is moved to a niche site. I'm not sure if this is a permanent change or just a side effect of the integration of Maven and HP sites. We shall see.

Re: TikTok. In the year or more I've been on it, I have never seen any content that would trouble me and I spend a fair amount of time on the site. None of these social sites have much oversight. So if TikTok is not for you, that's fine.

Re: Reading Books and Articles. In all honesty, I'd rather read articles and books, too. But it's a new world of content geared for the next generations. I'm just trying to keep up.

Glad to see you're back! Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 11, 2020:

This is practical information, Heidi. I use Facebook only and that is to keep up with family members who live out of state and to reconnect with old friends from school, especially when there are reunions every few years. I've had several of my friends invite me to join such social media as Instagram, but I don't have time for any more. Sometimes I see long posts from friends on Facebook, usually concerning their families, which are interesting. I guess some people have a lot of time on their hands.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 11, 2020:

Stories would have to be really good to catch my attention or I would have to be really bored because I read much faster than people typically talk. Stories thus are a drain on my time unless the video portion adds value. That’s why I cringe when a news article wants me to watch a presentation rather than read an article about the topic. It’s a time drain.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 11, 2020:

This introduction to Stories is interesting. I have to admit I have not yet been in it nor on TikTok. I don't know if this is a generational issue. I have to check these out to get myself familiar with its content.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 11, 2020:

Linda, I've gotta admit that while I find Stories type posts fun, if I had my choice, I'd rather write or read a couple thousand word article, too. It is really challenging to make the format switch. As I mentioned in the article, sometimes I spend a lot of time creating a 15-second video. So I'm still learning, too.

Since I know you're on Instagram like me, it's probably easiest to try out Stories there. I find it a whole lot easier than on Facebook. And on LinkedIn, it's still so new that almost nobody is creating or watching them.

Thanks so much for commenting and have a beautiful Sunday!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 11, 2020:

Pamela, as I started to do more research on Stories features for my own use, I really found the history of this trend quite fascinating, too. Always something new popping up on social media, right?

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and you have a lovely Sunday, too!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on October 11, 2020:

Very educating article, Heidi!

But first thing first. I am finding it very difficult to all the changes Hubpages have incorporated during my hiatus LOL. For example, I am unable to read older articles on Hubpages and leave my comments on them. Now, this could be due to a bug on my side. I admit that I read some of your previous articles and was unable to leave my comments.

I really do not like Tik Tok. There is no supervising authority managing content there. Some of the Tik Tok stuff I have seen send shivers down my spines.

Also, perhaps, I am old fashioned 50+ years old guy who is till interested in reading books and articles.

Once again, this was informative because I did not even know what stories on FB meant.

Regards,

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 11, 2020:

Donna, Stories is a cool feature that, in some ways, I like better than standard posts. It does help me swipe through a lot of updates from friends and those I follow. So they can be very useful and fun. I can definitely see how you might be able to share your creative adventures that way.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you're having a lovely fall season!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 11, 2020:

Peggy, it's not surprising that you didn't know about Stories. It's so noisy and crowded on the social networks that some of these features just exist in the background for many people. But for others, it's their primary focus on social. I say just use the features that give you the most value.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe while Hurricane Delta sweeps the Gulf!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 11, 2020:

Hi Marie! I have to admit that on Facebook, I just casually look at Stories. I watch them more on Instagram.

The read-to-children videos sounds like a worthwhile endeavor. But so does the nature path. Yeah, you don't have enough time to mess with watching or creating Stories. Priorities first!

Enjoy all your projects and have a beautiful day!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 11, 2020:

As usual, Heidi, I always learn from your articles. I sure didn't know the history of these sites or all of what they offer. This is another good article. Have a happy Sunday, Heidi.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 10, 2020:

This is a very informative post. You've shared a lot of facts that I didn't know. I prefer sharing and absorbing information that's in a written form, but I'm going to investigate the features that you've described.

Donna Herron from USA on October 10, 2020:

Hi Heidi - Thanks for this informative article. I've heard of a lot of these applications, but didn't really understand the differences or their uses. Thank you for sharing your best practices for using Stories. I can see some uses for these apps and might give them a try. Thanks again!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 10, 2020:

I had not heard of Stories, so thanks for the information. You always provide good information on topics related to using social media.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 10, 2020:

Another interesting read, Heidi. You are great about sharing your experiences.

I, for, do not do Stories, although I occasionally check out one or two belonging to friends I know well. (I've just recently learned how to call up the full post in the presentation flips to the next Stories' video.

I'd still like to make a few read-to-children's videos, but I'm just ready to jump into that. I'm far more interested in creating a nature path for my neighbors. (Once a gardener, always a gardener!)

Blessings!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 10, 2020:

Bill, I have a lot of friends dropping off of Facebook. So I'm glad we're connected elsewhere.

And congrats on being first to comment! For the kiddos on the likes of TikTok, they're obsessed with being "first" in comments. See, you're still young-ish.

Happy Fall Weekend to you, too! It's beautiful here in Chi-town.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on October 10, 2020:

Liz, it's surprising that Stories is not as known as one my expect. I honestly think there's just too much noise on the social channels. So it gets lost.

Glad you found it informative. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely weekend!

Liz Westwood from UK on October 09, 2020:

I had not heard of Stories before. I have learnt a lot from your thorough and well-structured article. Thanks for sharing from your own experiences.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 09, 2020:

I'm only on Facebook, but after watching "The Social Dilemma," I have no trust in that site and may drop off of it permanently. Still, as always, great information here, my friend.

Please note I was the first to comment. Hooray!

Happy Weekend, Heidi!