Why Marketers Should Care About Facebook Watch and Instagram Stories

YouTube is great, but I prefer watching Buzzfeed videos on Facebook so I can tag my friends.

I heard about Chipotle’s new queso through Instagram Stories, not a LinkedIn company update.

I used to get FOMO from Facebook Newsfeed, but nowadays, Snapchat stories are way more immersive.

In the month of November 2017 alone, Twitter increased their character limit from 140 to 280, Snapchat introduced demographic based “audience filters,” YouTube announced “Reels,” businesses began using Facebook’s customer service plugin, Instagram “remixed” direct messages, and LinkedIn launched the Career Advice mentorship platform.

It’s a fun, busy time to be a marketer.

But there’s not enough coffee in the world to help me rewrite my social media content calendar after every little update. I like to focus on the bigger trends before considering how each shiny, new tool fits in. After all, technology changes faster than human behavior.

Two social media trends that excite me are video and ephemeral content.

Video Content and Facebook Watch

Mark Zuckerberg wants video to be “the heart of all [Facebook] services.” He’s on the right track. By 2021, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will come from video. Four times as many people would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Simply including the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open and click-through rates.

Facebook is growing its 360 and Live video capabilities while auto-playing native videos. The new Facebook Creator app includes a creative kit to add intros and outros to videos, expansive analytics, and other fan engagement tools.

Facebook Creator

Facebook Watch was made to house longer-form videos. The platform features original shows created by brands and influencers that users can subscribe to. I personally watch Warby Parker’s Oddcupations and the Humans of New York Series in between Netflix binge sessions. These TV-like series encourage users to actively seek out new videos and let brands better structure their stories.

Facebook Watch

Facebook wants to become the next YouTube and is prioritizing content that supports that goal. For example, native Facebook videos get 10x more shares than YouTube videos posted on Facebook. Facebook Watch videos that are part of a series earn even more engagements than standalone videos. Will your company be one of the first to show its show on this young, but growing platform?

Ephemeral Content and Instagram Stories

Good things don’t last forever. Even though ephemeral content is unpolished and disappears in a few hours, people love it. It can be authentic, lighthearted, concise, and time relevant.

Snapchat reached 10 million users in its first year because people enjoyed peeking into these fleeting moments. Instagram wanted a piece of the pie (or perhaps, the whole pie), and launched Instagram Stories in 2016. It took them just one year to obtain more daily active users than Snapchat. Ouch.

Instagram is going all-in on Stories. Sure, they may have copied AR masks from Snapchat, but they offer differentiating features like Boomerang, Rewind, Live, and Superzoom, which zooms-in on your nose hairs and pairs the flattering video with dramatic sound effects.

Instagram Superzoom

Brands can use the Poll sticker to make ephemeral content more engaging and collect opinions from their fans. The eyedropper and alignment tools make Stories so much more #aesthetic than Snaps.

Instagram Polls and editing

I think the Poll sticker has a lot of hidden potential. Fans are actively telling us their preferences by responding, so let’s target them based on what they like (intent), not what they look like (demographics).

Imagine a tool called Instagram Story Lines that delivers subsequent content according to how the user responded to an initial poll. Say Chipotle has an Instagram Story Poll that asks, “Do you like your burrito with chicken or steak?” If I answer “chicken,” the remainder of the Instagram Story will show me content about how Chipotle’s chickens are humanely raised, marinated, and grilled. People who answer “steak” see a different “story line” that brags about Chipotle’s beef instead.

Instagram Story Lines is just one crazy idea I have. I’m sure the folks at Instagram are working on even crazier updates as they continue to prioritize Stories and ephemeral content.

Update: On January 30, 2018, I was scrolling through Chipotle’s Instagram Stories when I realized that they were actually able to create this sort of personalized content, and they have continued to do so ever since. Instagram hasn’t officially announced this feature yet, but I can’t wait to see more Stories like it. 

instagram stories called it.png

Why Should Marketers Care?

So why should you care about Facebook Watch and Instagram Stories? It’s quite simple:

  1. People care about video and ephemeral content. They love long-form videos and bite-sized, temporary content. Contradictory? Maybe. Human? Absolutely.
  2. Facebook and Instagram care about video and ephemeral content. They are building out these capabilities and want to feature trend-setting work.

You need to get on board if your target market and media partners are on the same page, both embracing these two macro trends. Place valuable content that your people want to see on the platforms they frequent.

You’ll have to apply for a Facebook Watch show here since it’s currently open to a limited pool of creators. However, you can upload subtitled, native videos to Facebook and start playing with Instagram Stories right now.

Let’s get to creating.

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