How to Use Social Stories to Advertise Your Business: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook

If you use personal social media accounts, you have definitely seen the “stories” feature pop up at the very top of your apps. These fun tidbits offer insight on what your friends are doing day-to-day. But how can you translate this feature into a component of your social media marketing strategy?

Businesses ranging from major international brands to local mom and pop shops are all tapping into the benefits of social stories. To understand how to use social stories to advertise your business, it helps to know what your target audience wants to see. Here are some insights on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories from our team of social media strategists at VitalStorm.

What Are Social Stories?

If you aren’t social media savvy, the concept of “social stories” might be a little bit baffling at first. You might wonder what makes them any different from a regular social media post.

Social stories are pictures and short video clips that appear at the top of your social profile and expire after 24 hours.

The time distinction for social stories is very important. Since they expire in 24 hours and do not appear alongside the other photos in your social media feed, there is less pressure to design and edit excessively branded content. On the contrary, social stories are meant to appear more authentic.

What this means is that the presets, filters, colors, and logos that create cohesive branding in your social media posts aren’t mandatory for content in your social stories. When people watch social stories, they expect to peek behind-the-scenes at the real, unfiltered version of your life or your business.

Where Did Social Stories Come From?

The first social media app to add content in a “story” that expires after 24 hours was Snapchat. This feature was so successful that Facebook copied the idea, adding a stories section at the top of the Instagram and Facebook apps.

Stories have steadily climbed in popularity since then. There are now 190 million daily active users on Snapchat viewing and posting stories, 500 million daily active users on Instagram Stories, and 500 Million daily viewers of Facebook Stories.

With such a high volume of social media users viewing stories, it only makes sense to capitalize on this new platform from a business perspective.

How to Use Social Stories to Advertise Your Business: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook

The Benefits of Social Stories for Businesses

After adding Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories to its apps, Facebook conducted a study on the relationship between a brand’s stories and consumers. The results illuminate how powerful social stories have become as a marketing tool.

Here are some of the stats that stand out:

  • 69% of people surveyed said social stories are a great way for people to get to know new products or services.
  • 62% of people surveyed said they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in stories.
  • 1 in 2 people surveyed who read social stories said that the content has strengthened their relationship with brands.

In addition to measuring how stories made consumers think and feel, Facebook also asked them if stories caused them to act. 56% of people surveyed browsed the brand’s website to get more information. 50% of people surveyed looked for the product or service on websites where they could buy it.

It’s also worth noting that 38% talked to someone about the product or service, and 34% visited a physical store to check out the product or service.

Tips for the Best Social Stories

Facebook also asked consumers what they wanted out of social stories from brands and businesses. This is perhaps the most critical insight to the consumer mindset when it comes to viewing social media in this platform. Here are a few of the key attributes brand social stories should have:

  • Short and sweet. 51% of people surveyed wanted brand stories to be quick and easy to understand.
  • Featuring special discounts. 51% of people surveyed wanted to see sales and promotions.
  • Offering helpful information. 45% of people surveyed wanted tips or advice.
  • Introducing new products. 44% of people surveyed wanted stories that introduce new products.
  • 43% of people surveyed wanted stories that “feel real.”

People also indicated that they enjoy stories that are inspiring or uplifting, that provide local event info, and that display creativity.

How to Use Social Stories to Advertise Your Business: Instagram

Social Story Strategies by App

While utilizing stories to advertise on any social media app is beneficial to your business, there are some important differences to keep in mind for each platform. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all have different user demographics, which impacts the type of audience you will be targeting. They also have different structures for viewing and uploading stories. Here are a few things to know about each platform when deciding where to focus your budget and energy.


Snapchat is most ideal if your target audience consists of younger consumers. 90% of Snapchat users are 13 – 24, and 75% of Snapchat users are under age 34.

While brand stories can appear alongside personal stories from friends on Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat works differently. Stories created by brands are only visible under a specific “Discover” tab.

Users see a cover image for these stories rather than simply tapping on the business’ profile image. This means that some design work is necessary to help your brand’s story stand out from the competition. The cover image should be both visually interesting and informative about the content to follow.

The biggest distinction for Snapchat brand stories is that the focus is always on content rather than sales. Consumers can’t complete a transaction through Snapchat, but they can form an impression of your brand. To entice consumers browsing the Discover page to view your brand’s story and eventually form a relationship with your brand, the content must be exceptionally engaging.

Important Snapchat Stats:

  • There are 310.7 million monthly active users of Snapchat.
  • 24% of social media users use Snapchat.
  • 61% of users access Snapchat daily.


Instagram Stories is one of the most ideal platforms for business owners because it integrates eCommerce directly into the content.

This means that consumers can visit links to actually purchase merchandise or schedule service from within your brand stories. As a result, your stories can be a mixture of unfiltered behind-the-scenes content that builds relationships and purely promotional content that drives sales.

Only Instagram accounts with 10,000+ followers can encourage consumers to “swipe up” and access links to their products. Their stories can redirect to brand websites or landing pages where consumers can make purchases.

But even accounts with less than 100 followers can add “shoppable stickers” to specific products, informing consumers of the price and inviting them to view those products on the web.

Important Instagram Stats:

  • Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users.
  • There are 25 million businesses on Instagram.
  • 71% of US business were on Instagram by 2018.
  • 200 million+ Instagram users visit at least one business profile every day.
  • 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram stories are from businesses.
  • 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram.


Facebook has made it increasingly difficult for organic posts made by brands and businesses to achieve high levels of engagement with followers. This is because Facebook has an algorithm that determines which posts are most readily visible to each user based on their preferences and behavior. And this algorithm tends to place branded promotional content pretty low on the totem pole.

But Facebook Stories offers a new opportunity to increase engagement without paying for boosts or ads. This is largely due to where Facebook Stories are located within the app.

Unlike Snapchat, which sorts stories from businesses into their own tab, Facebook includes brand stories right at the top of the news feed beside stories from friends. That means your brand story might be the first thing some of your followers will see when they open Facebook.

Unlike Instagram, no matter how many followers you have, Facebook lets you add a clickable link to your stories. This helps you use Facebook for promotional content on your website without relying on the fickle algorithms of the news feed.

Since Facebook still reigns supreme as the most popular social media network, it’s important to continue to capture your followers’ attention within. Stories are the perfect new avenue to do that.

Important Facebook Stats:

  • Facebook has 2.41 billion monthly active users.
  • Of all people on the internet, 83% of women and 75% of men use Facebook.

How to Use Social Stories to Advertise Your Business

Now that you know what social stories are, why they benefit your business, and how they differ on each platform, you can determine how to use them to advertise your business.

Here are a few tips for creating successful social media stories.

  1. Use intriguing words and visuals to capture attention.
  2. Keep stories short and easy to digest.
  3. Use trending topics and relevant hashtags.
  4. Use location tags to increase the number of eyes on your story. Social media users can search for new stories based on location.
  5. Understand your unique target audience and what your followers expect from your business.
  6. Make sure everything you post circles back to your brand goals, even unfiltered footage.
  7. Remember the 4-1-1 rule for social media content. For every single promotional post, make sure there is a ratio of four pieces of informative or entertaining content and one post shared from an outside source. You can adapt and adjust this ratio for stories, but the key takeaway is balance between sales focus and content focus.

How to Use Social Stories to Advertise Your Business: Instagram, Live Video

Creative Ideas for Business Social Stories

Now that you are ready to tackle Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories, you can begin brainstorming creative content ideas. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your followers engaged.

  • Show behind-the-scenes video clips and pictures. This can mean cooking in the kitchen of your restaurant, assembly of your products, or providing service to a customer. Whatever your business does best every day, give your followers a peek into the way you accomplish it.
  • Go live! This creates a sense of urgency for your followers to watch your video content right away, and it appears even more authentic since live videos can’t be edited.
  • Provide a product demonstration or guide. This informs potential customers and entices them to purchase a product at the same time.
  • Partner with a local event and promote it in your stories.
  • Offer a flash sale with special offers only available to followers who viewed your story.
  • Ask a question or use a poll to increase your followers’ responses.
  • Create fun graphics and templates using apps like Unfold, Over, or Canva.

If you are interested in learning more about the latest trends in social media marketing, our Social Local team at VitalStorm can help. To experience the benefits of a strong social media presence for your business, give us a call at 877-311-5695.

To learn more right away about how your business can benefit from social media strategy, check out our free eBook, Social Media Marketing for Home Services.