And, no, we don’t mean just sharing the intimate details of your life. Over the past year, Facebook has undergone a lot of changes largely due to data security breaches and consumer concern about the platform’s handling of their information. With new limitations in place for brands, and yet, new opportunities to engage customers in a meaningful way, there are two emerging platform opportunities that play upon the idea of more deeply connected experiences between brand and consumer. And they’re ones brands should consider as part of content strategy.
What: Stories are full screen content experiences allowing consumers to view and share “moments via text, photos, videos, filters and effects that disappear (unless saved) after 24 hours” (Facebook Blueprint, Introduction to Stories). They’re more authentic and playful than traditional news feed content, and take advantage of the natural way someone uses their phone (vertical, point and capture content, less polished). New features, such as polls, continue to be rolled out to make Stories more interactive than other content types and unlike news feed content, Stories are more personal. Comments need to be exchanged via direct message instead of public comment and settings can be used in a way that enables a more direct 1-1 experience for users.
Why: Stories launched less than three years ago, but more than 70% of Instagram accounts now use them, according to Instagram internal data from July 2018 (Facebook Blueprint, Introduction to Stories). The placement and creative type has since expanded to Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp (all of which are part of the same network). Stories are growing 15x faster (techcrunch.com) than feed sharing, and it is expected Stories will eventually surpass the reach of feed. Stories are showing business value, too. In a 12 country survey, more than 1 in 2 people who use stories said they are making more online purchases as a result (Facebook Blueprint, Ads in Stories).
Opportunities: Brands can use Stories as both organic content, placement-specific advertising, or as a placement to expand existing ad creative. Stories are important because brands can leverage the entire screen real estate for attention capture, and provide a humanized element by using the grittier content format. B2B companies (Martech Advisor) can also take advantage to humanize and provide live updates while connecting with consumers in a way new to the segment but natural to the consumer . While there is still opportunity to take advantage of this inventory before it’s fully saturated, the placement is maturing and will soon be a missed opportunity for brands who aren’t actively taking advantage.
What: Facebook Groups are a place for likeminded individuals to connect on shared interests. Groups can be much more private than the feed, and offer a space for discussion.
Why: In tandem with Facebook’s 2018 algorithm shift to focus on friend and family content as opposed to branded pieces, Group membership increased by 40% (Forbes). As privacy and security issues continue to plague the platform, Mark Zuckerberg announced he is considering a more private model (New York Times), and Groups follows the idea of offering a more closed conversation forum. Within the past year, Groups have been added to the mobile app to make accessing them more convenient, and dedicated Group content has appeared more within feed. From a user perspective, a Group is an opt-in safe haven where consumers are choosing to participate out of genuine interest and ability to shield themselves from inauthentic or undesired content. And as of the end of March, Pages can now join and participate in Group discussions, which provides additional opportunities for brands.
Opportunities: Remember Groups are a place people opt in to because of their interests. The experience brands provide should be authentic and rooted in the audience’s needs to ensure the content shared is useful and valuable. In addition, Groups are a community for discussion, not an outlet to simply push content. There are opportunities, for example, to provide exclusive content and engage in discussion with brand loyalists, as well as leverage as an insights gathering tool to inform future content or brand activations.
As Facebook evolves, it’s important for brands to adapt to more 1:1 experiences instead of strict feed publication. I predict we’ll continue to see more of this trend as it matures.