Before I joined Instagram two years ago, I would have thought the idea of watching a 'story' (a 15 second clip of user-recorded content) was a bit mad. Who even does that?
Well, me. And millions of others. It's not just a thing for teenagers pranking one another and foodies showing you their gourmet avocado on toast.
Adtech presents so many opportunities for businesses to more effectively market themselves and stories are just one option. As a marketeer, I've found it fascinating to see it develop over the past few years.
It turns out that getting a glimpse of someone else's life can be addictive, but it is sometimes inspirational and educational. I've observed people giving their thoughts on Brexit, sharing their #MeToo experiences, being brutally honest about the pain of going through a divorce, and giving tours of far flung destinations that I'd never otherwise see, for example. And I've also seen my fair share of sponsored ads. Do I mind? No, actually, because the content is eerily relevant. If it's not, I can quickly skip through it. No clogged up Newsfeed.
It's no wonder that social media companies are exploring further ways to monetise stories. They, and purchasers of advertising, however, are going to have to tread carefully so as to not rile us with overly frequent, unhelpful ads. Use my data to enhance my user experience, but don't get in the way of me watching raw footage of cute sausage dogs.
We’re at the cusp of the visual communication era. Stories creation and consumption is up 842 percent since early 2016, according to consulting firm Block Party. Nearly a billion accounts across Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Messenger now create and watch these vertical, ephemeral slideshows. And yesterday, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox showed a chart detailing how “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.”