How to Use Facebook Stories for Marketing
Are you wondering how Facebook’s short-form video format could help your business?
Facebook Stories brings a new video format to Facebook that closely resembles Instagram Stories.
In this article, you’ll discover what you need to know to succeed with Facebook Stories.
About Facebook Stories
If you’ve not used any of the other Stories apps available from Snapchat, Instagram Stories or Messenger Day, then Facebook Stories might look unfamiliar. If you have used any of the above, then you’ll find the Stories interface looks very familiar. Similar to the content on these other apps, Stories disappear 24 hours after posting.
Facebook Stories at sits the top of your mobile newsfeed, and has 2 distinct parts to it: Direct and Stories.
Direct sits at the top left hand side of your newsfeed and is a new private messaging feature that is linked with Stories; you can access Direct by tapping the plane icon. It is here that you will be able to view any ‘Story’ images or videos sent to you directly, and where replies to your own stories will appear.
Remember Direct is a separate feature from Messenger, and, unlike Messenger, you can only start a conversation with a Story image or video, not with text.
Find Stories proper in the rest of the area along the top of the newsfeed. Here you will see circles that represent the stories (videos and images) posted by you and your friends. Just tap the relevant circle to view a story, which will consist of one or more videos or images, looking something like this:
You can respond by typing a reply at the bottom of the screen.
This reply will be visible only to the person who sent the story but it’s wise to remember they could take a screen grab and share it!
You can only see a story once; if you click to view it again, you’ll get this message:
Note also that the story creator will be able to see who’s viewed their story!
If you want to see all of someone’s story quickly, or to jump to a specific element, simply tap at the top to skim their content. If you want to skip to the next friend’s story, then swipe across the top instead.
#1: Create a Facebook Story
Creating a story requires taking either an image or a video, or using content you have stored on your phone. If you have no current story on display, and want to begin a one, look for the circle that appears at the top of the newsfeed (Your Story) with a ‘+’ icon beside it. You’ll be able to access the Facebook Camera by tapping on it.
To add more images or videos to one of your existing stories, you’ll need to access the Camera by either swiping right from the newsfeed, or by clicking on the Direct icon and then clicking the blue box that says ‘Send Photo/ Video’ at the bottom.
When you’re in Facebook Camera mode, your screen will look like this:
As you can see, the control options all look familiar, with the exception of the filter and/or mask options you can use to decorate your images or videos. More about these features in a minute.
For now, you can take a photo by tapping the button in the middle at the bottom, take a video (up to 40 seconds long) by holding the button down, or choose an image or video already stored on your Camera Roll. Unlike Instagram Stories, this choice isn’t restricted to images taken in the last 24 hours only.
Be aware that if you add a photo from your Camera Roll that’s been taken in Landscape mode, it will be displayed in Portrait mode in your story, like this:
At this stage, you can choose to delete the image or video, or to add filters and masks, and/or text or doodles either before or after taking your image or video; you can even layer one on top of another. You can also save the image or video to your Camera Roll before or after adding extra decoration!
Unlike Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories offers a huge array of effects to add extra impact to your images or videos: from full screen artist-inspired filters to more specific overlays (some of which are licensed from movie studios), selfie lenses to color-reactive masks and interactive overlays which respond to the number of people in the photo.
Here are a few examples of the effects you can add:
Add in doodles with either a ‘paintbrush’ effect or ‘pen’ effect and plain text overlay. There really is no end to the creative fun!!
When you’re happy with the look of your image or video, then you can post it by tapping the arrow icon.
You have the option to post it either to your mobile timeline, directly to one or more friends, or to your story.
After you’ve added one element of your story, you can go on to add more story elements until you’ve shared all that you want to.
#2: Edit Your Facebook Story
Once you have posted videos or images to your story, you will be able to access them by tapping the first circle at the top of your newsfeed labeled Your Story.
As each segment is displayed, there are 3 dots visible at the top.
If you tap the three dots on an image or video, you’ll find that you can delete each element of your story individually or save it to your Camera Roll.
#3: See Who’s Viewed Your Story
Analytics in Facebook Stories is pretty straightforward. As you click through each element of the story as described above, look beside the eye icon at the bottom of the screen to see a viewer count.
If you tap on the icon, you will be able to see who the viewers were.
If you want to keep a record of your Analytics, taking a screenshot at the end of each day is going to be as good a way as any to track how many people viewed each segment of each story.
From this information, you’ll be able to quickly see which images and videos were the most viewed and, similarly, which caused viewers to tap away!
#4: Responding to Replies
When someone replies to your story, you will see the reply in your Direct inbox (not in Messenger or your general Facebook notifications), so you’ll need to remember to check this new inbox regularly.
You can reply back to someone’s response by typing on your original image, above their reply.
Key Considerations for Marketers
When using Facebook Stories as a marketer, the most important consideration is this: only those people who are connected to you as a Facebook friend will see your stories. Stories are not available (yet) for Business pages, and they are not visible to people who follow you, only your friends.
So to take advantage of this new opportunity for marketing your business, your Facebook friends list will need to include those you want to attract and interact with as a business.
This may not sit comfortably with you if you only want to use Facebook to connect with friends and family. If this is you, remember that you can choose who you share your general Facebook posts with every time you publish, so you can separate updates for family and/or close friends from more general updates if you wish.
However, at the current time, you can’t choose to only show your Facebook Stories to certain groups of people, or to exclude some from the audience, so if you are going to use Stories to talk about business, be prepared for the fact that Auntie Mabel might be watching!
As we are currently limited to 5,000 friends on Facebook, marketers will have to think creatively about using Facebook Stories as a marketing tool. It may be that you decide to use Stories as a way to build relationships with experts or influencers in your industry who could open doors for you. A great way to kick this off would be to respond to their stories.
Another approach would be to use Facebook Stories as a way of engaging potential collaborators, or to demonstrate thought leadership or speaking skills, as a way to maximize the return from a fairly restricted audience.
Or you could approach Facebook Stories as a way of ‘sowing the seed’ of awareness about your business with a community of advocates, who would then refer you to their friends and network.
If you’re going to go all-out for Facebook Stories, then you might need to adopt a new strategy for connecting with business-related friends on Facebook.
One way to build up an audience of friends who are interested in what you offer as a business is to be active in relevant Facebook groups.
When people see you offering help, advice, and support in a friendly way, they are likely to check out your profile and maybe send you a friend request. Equally, you could offer to take a discussion to private message, which is most easily done once you are connected as friends.
#5: Marketing With Facebook Stories
So now that you know how to use Facebook Stories and you’re clear on who your audience is, here are six story ideas you can use to grow your business:
Share Behind the Scenes Footage
This is maybe the most obvious use for Facebook Stories: share more of your life as an individual business person, or small business. Allowing people a sneak peek into your day will make them feel special, especially if you make it obvious that you don’t share this anywhere else. Take your audiences with you when you go on trips to attend or speak at events, for example, or show them what your staff does every day, and how talented and friendly they are.
Demonstrate Your Expertise
You can use Facebook Stories to share tips and short ‘how-to’s as a series of images with text overlay and/or videos. These work well as a way of giving your audience extra value and positioning you as an expert. You could even develop a schedule of different themes for each day of the week. To encourage engagement, ask people to reply and tell you which tips they found most helpful.
Signpost to Bigger Content
To tease bigger pieces of content, share only small snippets of what you have included within a recent blog post, video, vlog, or livestream. Be sure to include a call to action to direct your viewers to your larger content piece.
Provide Exclusive Offers
If it’s appropriate, given what we’ve just discussed about your audience being your Facebook friends, then Facebook Stories could be a great way to unveil exclusive offers only for people who see your story. To build an audience of potential customers as Facebook friends, let your friends know you release limited offers via Stories to encourage those connections!
Share User-Generated Content
Showcasing your customers and their images or videos (with their permission, of course) in your Facebook stories could be a fantastic way to make your customers feel valued, encourage engagement, and subtly provide social proof of your goods or services.
Find Out More About Your Audience
You could ask for opinions on ideas for a new product or service, for example, or find out how your audience feels about your industry. Or maybe you want to find out more about them and their lifestyle; ask questions which require quick, one or two word answers and you should see good engagement (in the form of direct replies). The fact that replies are private might encourage more to speak up than when questions are asked in more open formats, such as Facebook groups.
Facebook Stories gives you a way to deliver time-sensitive content to your personal Facebook network.
Use the insights and tactics in this article to leverage this newest Facebook feature to your advantage by creating specialized engaging content that promotes you and your business.
What do you think? Has this article inspired you to think about using Facebook Stories for your business? If so, what content do you plan to share? Or have you started using Stories already? Please reply in the comments!
April 2, 2017 at 10:08PM