Instagram Stories is surging, but a measurement firm found most brands are using it wrong
  • Instagram Stories has grown dramatically in terms of users and time spent in the past year, measurement firm Conviva found.
  • That’s good for Facebook at a time when its eponymous app’s users are spending less time there.
  • It also provides a huge opportunity for advertisers to get their message in front of potential customers.
  • But most accounts aren’t taking full advantage of the format, based on factors like the ideal Stories length and post time, as identified by Conviva.
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Instagram Stories is blowing up, and a data measurement firm has found the formula for the top-performing ones.

In 2017, Instagram Stories boasted 150 million daily active users. Now, two years later, and three years since launch, over 500 million people use Instagram Stories each day, according to anew study of 300-plus Instagram accounts by Conviva, a streaming-video measurement company, out today as Facebook reports quarterly earnings.

Not only that, the usage of the popular disappearing Stories feature is up. The average completion rate for Stories rose across all types of content (consumer products, sports, media, entertainment) to 84% in the first quarter of this year, from 73% in the year-earlier quarter — despite the fact that Instagram has introduced other features that compete for users’ attention.

Read more: While Facebook takes a beating, its Stories feature is looking like an under-the-radar success

That’s good for Facebook because the more time people spend watching Stories, the more ads they see, which means more revenue for parent company Facebook, which has seen its ad revenue growth rate decline and users spend less time on its eponymous app.

Stories’ increase also could be comingat the expense of Facebook as well as Snapchat. Time spent on social platforms except for Instagram and YouTube has declined or remained flat in 2018, according to Mary Meeker’s latestInternet Trends report.

The growth of Stories also means a bigger opportunity for businesses to get their messages in front of potential shoppers.

Conviva found most brands aren’t getting the full benefit

But most accounts aren’t taking full advantage of the format, based on factors like the ideal Stories length and post time, as identified by Conviva.

Its data suggest companies should aim for Stories lasting 15 frames or more to maximize their reach. But only 11% of Stories lasted 11-15 frames, and 6% were 16-20 frames. More than half of Stories — 53% — lasted under 6 frames and nearly all of them had a below-average reach.

Conviva also found 66% of accounts had replies turned off. But Stories with replies turned on had an average reach rate that was about 9%, which was 3.2% higher than those with replies turned off. Having replies turned on is to an account’s advantage because it can raise visibility in Instagram.

In terms of posting time, the firm also found that Stories that were posted between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. had the highest rate of completion, which could be because users have more time early in the day or that there’s less competition for their time. But about 50% of all Stories are posted between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For maximum reach and completion, Stories should be posted between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., the firm found.

“To stand out, you really need to have a strategy for IG Stories that is unique and different that your strategy for your feed,” said Nick Cicero, VP of strategy for Conviva. “The brands that are succeeding on IG Stories treat it as a completely different platform than IG.”

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