If it feels like every social media platform now has a story function, you’re not wrong: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have all created their own versions of 24 hour, ephemeral Stories — with varying degrees of success.
Stories have become one of the most popular features of social media, and, when used well, can add an automatic boost to any brand’s social media strategy. In fact, due to their popularity, Stories are now seen as an integral part of many brands’ social media strategies, and are on track to becoming even more popular, influential, and pertinent than main feed posts.
Read on for our analysis of the stories function across multiple social media platforms!
Snapchat’s target audience is arguably the youngest on social media. Still, the platform was actually the first to adopt the stories function almost a decade ago, paving the way for the other platforms to eventually follow suit.
Since its inception, Snapchat’s claim to fame has been “disappearing” content. The platform’s ephemeral quality was a big part of what made it initially attractive to users: gone were the days of puzzling over creating the perfect grid or profile — Snapchat re-invented the off-the-cuff, improvisational nature of social media and made it fun again.
So, here are the pros and cons of creating Stories on Snapchat:
Snapchat Story Pros
- Creating content on Snapchat is fun, casual, and easy. If you’re not a fan of a more stylized platform like Instagram, this is a great option for you.
- AR filters, all the AR filters! Snapchat is known for its creative use of filters, and was actually the first platform to start using them in 2015. It’s even possible to create your own custom filters, whether you want to highlight a special event or day, or even just for fun! This extra level of easy customization is something that other social media platforms don’t have.
- Since the search functions on Snapchat are pretty limited, you have a lot more control over your privacy: for someone to find your profile and stories on the app they need to know the exact name of your account. On other social media platforms, it’s much easier to stumble on users’ profiles through an advanced search function or hashtags (for example).
- Snapchat Stories are great for communication, since they allow you to swipe up and directly message the person whose story you are viewing. This means you can reach out to your friends and comment on their Stories.
- This is definitely a positive for those who like their privacy: on Snapchat Stories you can see who has taken a screenshot of your story! Users techwwill receive a notification when another user takes a screenshot.
Snapchat Story Cons
- For many reasons, Snapchat Stories aren’t as useful as other platforms’ Stories functions for those brands, businesses, and individuals looking to go viral: due to platform’s the limited search function, it’s unlikely that followers will stumble upon your profile organically, making it harder to stand out from the crowd or solidly assert your brand presence in a natural way.
- Making the most of the variety of features Snapchat Stories have to offer can be difficult as they are sometimes hidden or hard to find. This makes the platform less user-friendly than the other platforms, although, for some users, this might add to its appeal.
- Unfortunately for those who value their privacy, if you mistakenly add to the Our Story function, your content can be seen by those outside of your own follower list.
- Since Snapchat is mostly used by Gen Z, if you’re in an older demographic, this platform could be a lonely place!
Instagram is used by more than 500 million people every day, and 300 million of them are watching Stories daily. Instagram users tend to be younger, with 60% of them under the age of 30, but one-third of 30-49 year olds also use it.
In many ways, Instagram seems to have taken many of the features that have made Snapchat successful and improved on them, while also adding some more intriguing perks.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of using Instagram Stories:
Instagram Story Pros
- Instagram Stories are highly interactive: you can easily engage your audience with the Poll or Question stickers. These are both great ways to get feedback from your audience or allow them to feel more directly connected to your brand.
- Due to the high volume of users on the platform, IG Stories are just another way to make the most of the platform’s algorithm and send people to your website (if that’s your goal), as well as being an easy way to experiment with content. If you post multiple stories, you will be able to see in real-time whether users are clicking away from your content or are actively enjoying it.
- For those with follower counts above 10k, there is a swipe-up function that sends Instagram users directly to a website link of your choosing. This is a simple and effective way to potentially drive traffic to your website.
- Unlike the more curated Instagram grid, Stories are much more off-the-cuff and casual. This means that they are an inexpensive and easy way to create content, so you can spend less time on editing, and more time engaging with your audience.
- Despite the fact that Stories were initially created to only last 24 hours, the platform’s Highlight option, which allows specific Stories selected by account owners to be saved in collections on their profiles, was eventually rolled out. This is a great tool for brands looking to create cohesive social media narratives.
Instagram Story Cons
- Although the swipe-up link feature mentioned above is a perk for those with larger followings, it’s unfortunate that smaller accounts don’t have access to this feature as well.
- Some of Instagram Stories’ features work better than others. In particular, the Pin function, which is used to keep text or stickers in certain areas of a video Story, can be unreliable and glitchy.
- Although you can see which users have viewed your Stories, Instagram, unfortunately, does not alert its users when someone takes a screenshot of their Stories. This lack of security means images of your Stories can be spread without your permission or knowledge (even if you have a private profile).
After Instagram’s 2016 launch of Stories, Facebook launched their very own Stories function (albeit in a very similar form) in 2017. Although Facebook has the highest number of users of any social media platform, its Stories function is surprisingly unpopular.
Let’s analyze the pros and cons of Facebook Stories, and examine why the function hasn’t caught on the same way it has on other platforms.
Facebook Story Pros
- One of the perks of Facebook Stories is that they offer cross-posting with Instagram Stories — although this only goes one way (from Instagram to Facebook). Cross-posting isn’t necessarily the best strategy for brands, but for a casual social media user it means that friends and family who are on Facebook, but not Instagram, can have access to their Instagram Stories.
- Since Facebook Stories live at the top of users’ newsfeeds, it’s possible to utilize them as a way to bypass the algorithm: while feed posts might get lost in the crowd, brands can ensure that their Stories are presented directly to their audience at the top of their Feeds as soon as they open the app.
- Something that sets Facebook Stories apart from other platforms’ Story functions is the Group Stories option. This feature allows anyone attending a Facebook event to contribute to the event’s Story roll, which then appears on the event page itself as well at the top of the home feed.
Facebook Story Cons
- These days the typical Facebook users generally fall into an older age bracket, and this might have something to do with why Stories hasn’t caught on in the same way it has on other platforms: in general, Facebook users utilize the platform to send messages to friends or watch videos, not discover content and brands like they do on other platforms. As a result, Facebook Stories can often appear as a dead space for many users, and don’t attract the same attention as Instagram Stories.
- In general, there’s nothing truly distinct about Facebook Stories that sets it apart from Instagram Stories. In fact, many users question why they would move over to Facebook Stories when they are already happy with Instagram Stories!
LinkedIn rolled out their version of stories in the last quarter of 2020. Many users found this to be a surprising move since Stories are generally thought to be a more casual permutation of social media, and LinkedIn is a purely professional platform. However, this was actually part of LinkedIn’s plan: to create more transparency and approachability around businesses and the work they do. The question is, has it worked?
Here are the pros and cons of using LinkedIn Stories!
LinkedIn Story Pros
- For businesses, using LinkedIn Stories is a great way to show the world who you and your employees really are, to pull back the curtain and display all the hard work that goes into building your brand. By doing this, you’re allowing viewers to engage more directly with you and access a different perspective of your business that they might not otherwise.
- Similar to Instagram, LinkedIn Stories offers a swipe-up feature that redirects to a website link — but in this case users don’t need to have many connections! This tool can be used by individuals and businesses alike to drive traffic to specific websites.
- Users can take pictures and videos for their Stories, as well as add text and stickers (including a mention sticker which can be used to tag another user or business).
LinkedIn Story Cons
- One of the major issues with LinkedIn Stories is being able to strike the appropriate balance between professional and approachable; for businesses, it might be difficult to show personality without going too far. On the other hand, extremely professional or buttoned up Stories could come across as awkward and forced.
- The biggest question when LinkedIn started broadly rolling out its Stories function was whether social media users really need another Stories function — and especially a Stories function on a platform dedicated to work! For many users, LinkedIn Stories was an unnecessary addition to an already overused feature.
- Unfortunately, LinkedIn Stories can be clunky and a bit difficult to figure out. Bizarrely, users are unable to share posts in their Stories, a feature that is a big part of the allure of Stories on other platforms.
Last but not least, Twitter’s version of Stories, called ‘Fleets,’ arrived at the end of 2020 and didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome: the platform’s users have long been requesting other changes to the platform, such as being able to edit a Tweet after it’s been posted, and were surprised to see a whole new feature emerge instead. Unsurprisingly, Fleets hasn’t exactly caught on with Twitter’s users — but does this mean it is a failure, or an as-yet-unexploited opportunity for brands and users?
Here are some current pros and cons of Fleets:
Twitter Fleet Pros
- For Twitter, the fact that not many people are making use of Fleets might be a negative, but it’s not necessarily bad for users looking to get in early on the platform and make a mark where most others aren’t. Being the first to try something, and doing it well, could be a gamechanger for many brands or users looking to stand out in the crowd. If done the right way, successfully leveraging Fleets could be a useful tool in your marketing strategy.
- On the more technical side, Fleets are pretty easy to use, and it’s possible to share your or others’ Tweets. This can be especially helpful in a cluttered, algorithm-heavy feed: sharing a Tweet to your Fleets can ensure that it will show up at the top of your followers’ (app-only) timeline.
- Users can also add text and change the background of their Fleets depending on the look they want to portray.
- Photos and videos can be shared on Fleets much like on other platforms’ Stories functions.
- Fleets, like Stories on all other platforms, are a great opportunity to showcase time-sensitive content, like giveaways, announcements, or any other news, and can extend the life of a Tweet by 24 hours.
Twitter Fleet Cons
- While the fact that Fleets are not yet being widely used might be a pro for brands looking to get in early and really own the feature, the downside is that this content won’t be seen by many users. So, it’s wise to view Fleets as a supplementary part of a social media strategy, and not the main focus.
- Fleets are currently only available on the Twitter app and not the desktop version.
- Unfortunately, they’re pretty basic. Unlike other platforms, Fleets don’t have many customization or interactive features, although viewers can respond to your Fleets directly in message form.
- Users have raised some safety and privacy concerns: strangely, you can tag those who you have blocked and have blocked you (and vice versa) in Fleets. In addition, someone can share your tweet in their Fleet without you being notified.
- Unlike Instagram, there is no option for a Fleets Highlight that would live permanently on a user’s profile.
So, are Stories really worth all the hype?
Overall, yes — but on the right platform. Undoubtedly, out of all the social media platforms Instagram has done the best job with the Stories function: it’s used by individuals and brands all over the world and has become a main driving force for the platform.
At the end of the day, businesses looking to include Stories in their social media marketing strategies should think about who their audience is, which platforms they are on, and what type of content they want to see. This will dictate which platform’s Story feature is the best choice, and whether they’re worth the effort.
Either way, it’s good to have professionals on your side. TechWyse offers a range of social media services that suit the needs of businesses looking to break out on a variety of social media platforms. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help take your business to the next level!