2021: The year of Stories

By Georgia Ward

Over the last five years, social media has evolved at an exponential rate, with over 3.8 billion people across the world actively using the platforms in 2020. From writing on Facebook walls and 140-character tweets to broadcasting live content on Instagram and the surge of TikTok, there is one feature that continues to be increasingly popular – Stories. 

Social media Stories are vertical images, graphics or videos that appear separately to the regular content or news feed and only last for 24 hours before they disappear. Although they are temporary, some platforms, such as Instagram, allows you to save them into ‘collections’ for viewing on profiles. Many apps provide users with interactive features, such as polls, Q&A, music and gifs, as well as themed stickers to increase engagement on the content. 

Stories can be found on all mainstream social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. At the end of 2020, Twitter and LinkedIn also introduced their own version of Stories to increase daily engagement from their users. 

So, why should hospitality businesses be using them? 

Stories are incredibly popular because they’re so immersive and interactive. The fleeting, real-time nature of the content attracts a large, engaged audience, with over one billion people using or viewing Stories around the world every day. The functionality allows you to create images, short-form video and live broadcasts that give your audience a glimpse into your brand, everyday work, team and services, as well as a chance to engage with you directly.  

How can hospitality businesses use them? 

Like regular social media feed content, Stories need to be well thought out and integrated with your wider social media marketing strategy to ensure they are effective for your brand and engaging for your audience 

To support you with driving interaction and building brand awareness using social media Stories, our hospitality marketing and communications experts have shared their top tips and examples of how to use Stories effectively. 

  • Showcase behind the scenes content – Sharing short videos or images of your team preparing dishes from the kitchen or your event planners organising an upcoming conference can provide your audience with a different viewpoint of your brand and what you can offer.  
  • Give a glimpse into your ‘every day’ – Whether you are a hotel aiming to create ‘wanderlust’ moments or a venue wanting to inspire potential bookers, regularly positing general updates or news regarding your property is a great way of remaining at the forefront of your audiences feeds and minds. 
  • Conduct some research – Use the poll functions on Stories to ask your audience some key questions to find out what they are really looking for. This is also a great way of involving your engaged followers in the brand and asking their opinion on topics such as interior design, seasonal dishes or the name new rooms. 
  • Host a Q&A – Answering your followers questions can both allow you to interact with them at a time when they can’t meet you face to face, while also answering more targeted questions that might not be on your general FAQs, and can be later saved as a Highlight for others to find. Alternative formats such as the recent viral trend ‘Show a picture of…’ took off on Instagram during the festive period as followers gained a glimpse into influencers and brands memories and never before seen content. 
  • Share user-generated content – When guests, event planners or delegates visit your space and document it on their own social media profiles, they take the hard work on for you. Simply resharing this to your Stories generates content, shows other people are engaging with you and shares a different point of view. 
  • Back up what you’re saying  Gather customer testimonials, put them in a bright and branded template and share with your followers to promote brand advocacy. Again, by placing these in your Highlights, followers can find a variety of third-party opinions easily that might help sway their purchasing decisions. 
  • Create countdowns to build anticipation – Adding the countdown sticker to Stories to alert viewers of an upcoming event, registration deadline of special offer soon ending can be a live reminder of the urgency to take action. Where Stories only last 24 hours, viewers are given the option to save the countdown and continue to receive reminders after expiration. You’ll also be notified about who has opted for reminders and can get in touch directly to confirm their interest. 
  • Give shoutouts – Tagging and recognising relevant suppliers, partners, companies, associations or individuals that are linked to the content of your Stories is one of the quickest ways to duplicate marketing efforts and extend reach to new audiences. At the click of one button, tagged users can add the post to their own Story for their followers to view. 

To find out how Custard can support you with developing an effective, results-driven social media strategy, contact our team today