Marketing which vanishes before your eyes. Smart consumer messaging with a very short shelf life. This is what digital marketers need? Maybe so, but there are at least two very different strategies it might serve.
Instagram Stories was announced yesterday as a way to publish images, slideshows and videos which won’t be preserved on your Instagram profile. Story content will appear at the top of your followers’ feeds, and will disappear after 24 hours. So much for treasured memories. The product will roll out over the next few weeks both for Android and IoS.
If this sounds a lot like Snapchat, you’re right of course. Indeed, with unusual frankness, Instagram CEO has already publicly credited Snapchat for pioneering the concept and implementation. The significance of Instagram’s new product lies, however, not in any claims to originality, nor in Instagram’s enormous reach—because Snapchat’s is comparable, and increasingly so for a slightly older demographic. The main advantages Instagram currently has over Snapchat are the relationship with Facebook (and access to Facebook’s targeting tools), better analytics, and the possibility of publishing permanent as well as ephemeral content.
Which brings us to the role of ephemeral content—and in particular short-form videos—for marketers. As Facebook itself has said, introducing Instagram stories, “you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want to throughout the day—with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your business’ story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools.”
And for some brands and audiences, that makes perfect sense. A daily turnover of fast-moving, disposable content eye-candy, easily consumed, and leaving a lingering sense of a brand message. If you like, that’s the “Snapchat way” to use Instagram stories.
Many brands, however, seek to convey more complex and lasting messages—perhaps to more mature audiences too. The function of Instagram Stories in that context may well be to direct consumers’ attention to more durable content. At the very list, they can eyes to fixed images and videos in a brand’s Instagram profile. They can also be used, of course, to send traffic to channels which are more hospitable to more elaborate, deeply invested creative strategies, just as Facebook videos—for example—can serve to catch wandering eyes and redirect them to wherever a brand’s more extensive messaging lives.
Instagram Stories, for many, will be just snackable content. For others, it will be appetizers leading to the main meal.