Who would have thought that a stolen idea could be this successful? When Facebook copied Snapchat's popular Stories format in 2016, it had an idea that the format's popularity could skyrocket on Instagram. And Instagram reported in June this year that Stories now has 400 million daily active users (DAUs) on its platform. The format is also on Facebook and WhatsApp. As per the latest updates, Facebook Stories had 150 million DAUs while WhatsApp Status, a clone of Stories, has 450 million DAUs.
"As the content is there only for a short period, the fear of missing out makes people check the feature again and again," explains Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO and Co-founder of the digital marketing agency Gozoop Online. "It is very easy to create a story; it is informal; it is very real and it can provide an expressive way of content creation."
In spite of its growing popularity, Facebook is yet to monetise the format in a big way. Instagram Stories currently features some advertisements, but monetisation is low, while WhatsApp Status and Facebook Stories have gone untapped so far. Going ahead, Facebook plans to push the feature on these platforms to drive revenues. Interestingly, Instagram has recently introduced a shopping feature on Stories, which is now used by Amazon Prime, McDonald's India and MissMalini.com, among others.
Brands, too, have started experimenting with the format on Instagram to gain traction - all it requires is an easy swipe to redirect the traffic to their websites. Content creators, as well as fashion, lifestyle and travel brands with a strong presence on the platform, are using Stories for product demos, launches and sales.
But most of it is happening through either influencer marketing or organically. "Most companies are leveraging Stories as a format to ensure wider reach as viewers tend to like it," says Nimesh Shah, Head Maven at the digital agency Windchimes Communications.
Naqvi says a lot of brands are extensively using the feature to drive product need on Instagram. Paperboat, BookMyShow, UberEats and L'Oreal Paris are some brands which are already advertising on Instagram in India.
"For us, it is all about creating awareness," says Sanjay Gupta, Head of Marketing at Uber. "We have been using Instagram Stories for UberEats over the past six months and the number of views/engagement is higher than any other medium," he says.
The popularity of Stories can be judged from a hiring campaign launched by UberEats on Instagram. The company reached 2,50,000 people and received more than 300 applications for the post. Facebook could surely strike gold if the increasingly growing engagement drives in brands and advertisement dollars.