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Facebook’s New Stories Templates

Stories: Less Pressure, More Rapid-Fire & Stickier for Users

Since early 2018, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. have been banging the drum for the Story content format. The eventual decline of the traditional social media news feed is all but an expected inevitability.

Stories were a cornerstone of Snapchat’s initial success and have been pivotal in Instagram’s resurgence since 2016.

Pre-Stories Instagram was stagnating, both in terms of user growth and product innovation.

The successful roll-out of Stories in Instagram provided a pressure release valve of sorts for users, whereby not every post had to be pixel-perfect or ‘Insta-worthy’.

Kevin Systrom, Former Instagram CEO and Co-Founder 2017, via Recode:

“The biggest problem [people had] with Instagram is feeling the pressure of sharing really amazing photos. People want to actually share a lot more, but they don’t want it to hang on the gallery wall.”

The fleeting, more private nature of Stories encourages both rapid fire posting in Instagram and Snapchat, while also aiding platform stickiness, building and playing on user FOMO.

For example, Snapchat claims that users open the app 20 times daily.

Facebook’s Slow Marketing Uptake Of Stories

Facebook's much maligned Stories equivalent has lacked the surge in usage that the incumbents have enjoyed. However, after a slow start, it is starting to get going, with Facebook recently announcing over 500 million users.

Although the Stories user wagon is well and truly rolling, marketing uptake lags substantially.

Facebook announced last week that it has 140 million active organisations on the platform, of which around 9 million run ads.

In an earnings call in March, Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook’s COO, revealed that Stories are used by 3 million advertisers across Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.

While these numbers are not insignificant, considering Stories ads were only launched in 2017, Wall Street needs to see more rapid uptake.

Facebook is, therefore, hoping its latest release could well help spur that forward.

Can New Stories Templates Kick-Start Marketing Uptake?

One of the leading marketing issues for Stories, both organic and paid, is creative.

Stories are almost entirely visual, with more of a graphic design play than copywriting.

Combine this with their brief shelf-life, and for many communicators Stories represent quite a bit of effort for comparatively limited exposure.

To help streamline this process, Facebook is launching customisable Stories templates for use across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Stories templates automatically transform your image into an ad for Stories on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Meaning you can reach your audience on Stories without investing much time and effort into designing a new ad.

Whether these can be repurposed or hacked for organic usage is currently a tad unclear. But, fingers crossed.

Stories templates use a vertical aspect ratio, so your ad can fill the entire mobile screen and be more engaging. They also add movement to help your ad grab attention.

There is a range of additional customisation options to choose from within the workflow, including background colour, music and call to action effects.

The new Stories templates could be viewed as an extension of the auto-create Stories ad feature which Facebook launched in early 2018.

However, although Facebook has been able to auto-translate a News Feed ad into the Story format for 18 months, resizing and adjusting to suit the placement on Instagram or Facebook, they tend to look lame.

Therefore, unless you had custom Story creative to suit, it wasn’t really worth utilising in the majority of cases.

The new Stories templates appear to have thankfully addressed this.

This latest Stories update is rolling out in Ads Manager now and builds on a similar principle to Instant Experience ads, which were formerly known as Canvas ads.

Whereby, Facebook reduced the barriers to entry on implementation via easy-to-use templates.

Sometimes It “Pays” To Be An Early Adopter

If easier implementation doesn’t float marketers’ boats, then cheaper exposure certainly should.

Not only do Stories rank well on the organic reach front and have done for some time.

They’re currently cheap as chips, due to the wonders of low marketing demand and high consumer usage expanding ad supply.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, January 2019

“One of the interesting things about Stories is there's a benefit to being an early adopter.

So the pricing is really attractive.

And so we think the mix shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us and it's going to take time to continue to get advertisers in, but we're very happy with demand to date.”

Smart marketers might be wise to take this to heart when planning their social campaigns between now and xmas.

The new Stories tempates are currently rolling out now across Facebook Ads Manager.  

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