Tag Archive for: instagram

Why Social Media Stories Matter

15 Feb
February 15, 2017

Storytelling is very the core of good social and content strategy. It allows us to build a narrative and connect on a deeper level with friends, customers and connections. Nearly all social platforms recognise this and now have their own iteration of tools for telling social media stories.

Facebook Stories (currently testing in Ireland) is the latest in a list that includes Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories, Messenger Day and Twitter Moments to name a few.

While people tend to focus on platforms copying the feature from each other, what is important is for all platforms to have this functionality. When I spoke with Adam Fraser on the EchoJunction podcast late last year, we talked about this. While all may have it to varying degrees, whoever gives users the best tools to tell stories will win, which the data seems to be supporting.

Social Media Stories over Social Media Posts

Social media has always been about snapshots, those moments in time we have captured and shared with our friends.

Personal timelines go some way toward organising these, but the news feed remains the place where people keep up to date.

This means algorithms come into play, which have a tendency to kill a narrative. Elements of the story appear out of order, which is fine if you’re Tarantino, but not if you’re an individual or a brand.

While you would expect that if we reacted to one thing we found interesting, we might see more of it. But there’s no guarantee that this will happen in order, if at all. Stories fix these challenges by stringing together the narrative and keeping it moving.

Ease of Use and Access are Key

Recent research shows that Instagram stories slowed the growth of Snapchat’s play after it launched, largely in part to both it’s scale of users already familiar with the platform, and it’s ease of use by comparison to Snapchat.

Similarly, Twitter’s much-hyped Moments feature has just been removed from the main navigation in their app. I believe to be symptomatic of them keeping it out of the hands of users for too long. By the time they had the ability to create moments, most were finding better ways to do it elsewhere. That said, it remains an important tool in curating relevance from the noise.

Facebook has scale already, which is where Instagram also had an advantage. All platforms have their own demographic and user behaviors that will influence the type of stories that will be told and how the tools will work. The important part is making it easy to put it all together, because stories and narrative matter.

 

How Instagram Succeeds In Spite of Itself

31 May
May 31, 2016

I’ve been spending a lot more time on Instagram lately than I usually do as I build my other business Moonshine BBQ. The product is very visually led and lends itself well to the platform.

What I’ve noticed through building my community there is that despite it being a social platform, Instagram’s success seems at odds with its limited function set.

While the simple double tap to like an image is how it should be on mobile first social applications (the number of times I have done this on Facebook is ridiculous), and the ability to leave a comment is as straight forward as you would want it to be, other functions that are inherent to a social experience are not.

There are three key areas where I think they need to improve.

Conversation

The ability to interact with not only a creator, but also commenters, is a core principle of online community building, with people coming together around a piece of content to make it something bigger.

With Instagram however, conversation is difficult. Leaving a simple comment is fine, but the chronological nature and non-nesting of the comments makes following a conversation difficult, and the ability to respond directly to another user’s comment is a multi-step process.

This is particularly true for highly engaged accounts with large followings, as a limited number of comments load at any given time, making it challenging to find conversational elements.

Sharing

Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of Instagram is the ability to share content from others intra-platform. While it obviously pushes the point of original content, the number of third party apps that repost, or “regram” the content of others, demonstrates that the desire to share interesting content of others, in spite of how clunky the process is (more further down about that).

While Facebook has created conventions around how content from others is displayed when you share from another person or publisher, Instagram (despite being owned by Facebook) has left it up to the multitude of developers to determine this, creating a lack of consistency, and at times a total lack of credit to the creator.

Through developing this feature, Instagram can standardise the way content is shared on the platform, generating greater engagement and reach for creators.

API

In all of the aforementioned re-gram apps, the process generally involves a mirrored feed, a selection of the image, a standardised overlay, a copy caption function and then opening the photo in Instagram, pasting the caption and posting. It’s anything but smooth, and a limitation of the API.

I’m beta testing Buffer‘s new Instagram integration, which is a much better experience in that I can schedule the post with the image and caption, and I get a reminder at the time to post and it copies across the image and caption for me to use. However, it exhibits the all to familiar trait of not being able to post directly to the platform.

While none of these things are obviously inhibiting growth, the limitation of true community building features and a rough road to using third party tools to interact with it make it seem to be that Facebook and the Instagram team are missing a huge opportunity to increase growth.