Photos in Focus: Create Engaging Content With Stories

In the fast-paced world of social media, video content continues to grow in popularity and we continue to see video functionality roll out across platforms. Recently, Facebook officially launched Facebook Stories, which are short, 20-second videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours. Sound familiar? This feature is already included in several other social platforms, including Snapchat and Instagram. Although they’re gone in a flash, using tools like Stories in your organization’s social media may be a good way to get, and keep your audience’s attention; and many in our target audiences find them helpful.

Why Create Content for Stories

At first glance, creating content that disappears so quickly might seem like a waste of time. However, given the high volume of traffic that Snapchat and Instagram Stories receive each day, creating this type of content is a good way to connect with your target audience and deliver engaging content. For example, Mandy Sugrue, the senior manager of communications at the International AIDS Society (IAS), and her team have found value in creating Instagram Stories, because it allows them to be authentic and represent the diverse work of their staff.

“Instagram Stories allow us to put faces to our staff’s names and showcase what we’re doing throughout the globe,” says Mandy. “We’re able to talk about what IAS is doing in real time. It gives our audience the chance to follow along with local leaders as they work in regions all over the world, like a behind the scenes look at a workshop in South Africa. Stories allow us to share a mixture and variety of the voices our organization is made up of, and as a membership organization, this is important to us.”

How to get started

Are you wondering how to get started with Snapchat or Instagram Stories for your organization? We have learned the following:

  • Focus on visual storytelling. Use short videos and photos to tell your audience a story, complete with an introduction, middle, and end!
  • Give your audience a behind-the-scenes look into your organization. National HIV Testing Day is around the corner. If you’re holding a special event, give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your activities. You can even include feedback from your event attendees.
  • Showcase something in action. For example, clinics could demonstrate how quick and painless an HIV test is through a series of video snapshots.
  • Share another perspective. Highlight your organization’s champions and audience members by hosting an Instagram Story Takeover. Your champion could take your audience through a day-in-the-life and could even illustrate a desired behavior, like making a health appointment.
  • Make an announcement. Let your audience know about an upcoming event or important deadline.

If you’re still nervous about taking the plunge, Mandy has some advice: experiment and fail fast.

“Communications needs to be experimental. We try new things all of the time on social media. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s ok. We just try to make sure we’re staying grounded in the focus of the organization. If something doesn’t work for us, we learn from the experiment and keep moving forward.”

Likewise, Tiffany Humbert-Rico, social media coordinator at the Prevention Communication Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also experimented with Instagram Stories, also recommends experimenting.

“It’s okay to experiment and try new things on social media. Your first attempt doesn’t always have to be perfect, instead, it can be used as a way for the whole team to learn. If you’re going to experiment with something new, make a plan, establish your metrics and how you’ll measure success, and then give it a shot! We’re all learning together about the best ways to use social media for our organizations.”

Facebook Stories are currently available for personal Facebook accounts, but not business pages. We’ll continue to watch Facebook’s roll out of Stories and wait for the launch of stories for Facebook Pages. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Stories and how you can begin to use Instagram Stories or Snapchat for your organization, you can sign up for our virtual office hours.

*This post was originally published on May 16, 2017, on the AIDS.gov blog.

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