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Stories Are the New Storefront

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How do you lure in shoppers when the streets are empty and stores are losing footfall? The pandemic has presented the retail industry with an unprecedented challenge, moving business out of physical stores and into the digital realm. In many cases, that’s come at the cost of human interaction: although ecommerce is a quick and convenient way to shop online – and it is booming – it also lacks the social component that stores have offered. 

No one likes a brand that’s purely transactional. That’s why now more than ever retail brands must focus on digital storytelling: on creating brand experiences and interactive digital moments that bring their products and services to life. In fact, social commerce is quickly becoming the most important way to drive real shopping intent.

Brands must meet shoppers wherever they are – including at different points on the digital shopping journey, from discovery all the way to the point of purchase. Nowhere is that easier or as effective as on social media, and on Stories in particular. 

Stories have transformed social media and advertising. We are currently witnessing the entirety of the social media landscape merging into Stories. The same Stories format is in use across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now even Spotify. TikTok was entirely built on Stories. New versions of Stories are beginning to pop up as well, including Instagram Reels and Spotlight on Snapchat. 

The shift from Feed to Stories, for advertisers and users alike, represents a leap even bigger than that of desktop to mobile. Invented by Snapchat, mainstreamed by Instagram (where Stories now have more than 500 million daily actives), and further popularized by TikTok (currently the world’s fastest growing social media platform), Stories are seen by users as a “more authentic” means of communication with friends and family. In essence, they capture “realer” moments. For advertisers, that means the format can allow for more meaningful interactions for brands to get closer to consumers. 

The distinctive feature of Stories is that, rather than focusing on one single element, such as images or text, Stories allow for the full plurality of expression. Stories, as posts, can consist of long and short video, still images, graphics, text, sound, emojis, and more. As such, for brands, they can also be a way of recreating the in-store experience on a consumer’s phone: Interactive elements such as polls and Q&As can create a sense of dialogue, for example, while uplifting music paired with striking visual footage can lead to stronger emotional ties with shoppers. 

The Stories format packs in at once the qualities of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and countless other social media apps. In short, Stories are a hybrid concentration of all that is social media. Advertisers who capitalize on the synergies and create content native to the format, can slide effortlessly into consumers’ pockets: Stories ads, created mobile-first, are less intrusive and more relevant. They capitalize on all the major recent developments in digital advertising: the rise of storytelling, the pivot to video, and the growing importance of personalization and localization.

With new advertising campaigns designed Stories-first – and powered by automation tools like Smartly.io – brands can take advantage of all the audiences and behaviors across all social platforms at once, deploying a consistent multi-platform interactive experience that reaches shoppers across the buyer’s journey. That might mean using Pinterest Stories to reach shoppers who are in the discovery, search phase; TikTok Stories to promote more authentic shopping experiences; Instagram Stories to create visual, creative moments; and Facebook Stories to reach those buyers who are ready to purchase. 

Just because stores are shut or operating at limited hours doesn’t mean brands should give up on interacting with shoppers. With a Story-focused multi-platform strategy to social commerce, retail brands put themselves in the best position possible to connect with customers at the right moment in the right context – an unbeatable combination that will ultimately drive the sale. 

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Socialmediatoday.com

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Snapchat Announces New Features for Snapchat+, Provides Insights on Snapchat+ Take-Up

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Snapchat Officially Launches its New 'Snapchat+' Subscription Program

Snapchat has announced some new additions to its Snapchat+ subscription offering, while it’s also shared some new insight into Snapchat+ take-up, which provides some more perspective on the potential of such options in the broader strategic scheme.

Snapchat+, which it launched in late June, enables Snap users to pay $3.99 per month to access a range of add-on elements including variable app icons, new data insights, and the capacity to pin a user in the app as ‘your #1 best friend’.

And now, Snap’s looking to sweeten the Snapchat+ deal, with subscribers now also able to access:

‘Priority Story Replies, which makes your replies more visible to Snap Stars.

Snapchat+

‘Post View Emoji’, through which you can pick a dedicated emoji that you want friends to see after they view your Snaps.

Snapchat+

New Bitmoji Backgrounds including ‘gleaming gold’ and a beach paradise. 

Snapchat+

While there are also some new app icons thrown in for good measure, so you have even more ways to customize your Snap experience.

Snapchat+

I mean, none of these are groundbreaking additions to the current offering. But even so, Snapchat+ clearly holds a level of appeal, with Snapchat also reporting that it now has over a million paying subscribers that have signed up to the option.

That’s an extra $4 million per month going straight into Snapchat’s coffers – so while it may not seem like an amazing, compelling package to casual users of the app, the numbers show that, even at marginal take-up (1 million subscribers equates to 0.29% of Snapchat’s active user base), such options can be significant earners for the apps themselves.

If they can get them right.

These latest features now give Snapchat+ subscribers access to 11 exclusive in-app features, which bests Twitter Blue’s 9 exclusive elements. Not that it’s a competition, because most of the people who are likely to pay for Snapchat+ are not going to be in the target market for Blue as well. But still, the two subscription elements provide an interesting parallel as to how these types of offerings can work – and indeed, if they actually do work in the broader scheme of things.

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For example, it’s interesting to note the recent strategic variances for each, with Twitter recently increasing the price of Twitter Blue by 60%, despite adding no new features, and Snapchat announcing an India-only release of Snapchat+, at an 85% discount on the regular price.

Which strategy will work out best?

For Twitter, it’s likely upping the Blue price ahead of the addition of tweet editing, which looks close to launch, and which it probably expects to bring in a heap more paying subscribers, given that it’s the most requested social media feature in history.

Snapchat, meanwhile, is going for volume, and making its app more sticky in the Indian market, which could expand its usage in what’s now its biggest single biggest market, at 144 million Indian users.

That, eventually, could help Snap develop a stronger market presence, and give it a lot more users to sell ads to, or to pitch its own products, like its Pixy drone camera or its coming AR glasses.

Though when, exactly, those glasses might be coming could be further off than anticipated, given Snap’s recent spending reduction measures as a result of the broader downturn in the digital ads market.

But then again, what if Snap, which now has a huge and growing Indian presence, were to partner with Apple on its AR glasses, as a means for both to maximize take-up, and dominate the space? Meta, too, is looking to become the AR leader, as another element within its broader metaverse push, though it’s primarily focused on VR and building wholly immersive digital worlds.

That could open the door for Snap and Apple to win out, with the cool factor of Snap combined with the technology of Apple to build a more fashionable, appealing AR wearable product.

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There’s nothing to suggest that such a partnership is on the cards as yet – though Snap has worked with Apple on various AR projects and elements in the past.

With this in mind, building audience could be a key step, which is why Snapchat’s approach to Snapchat+ may just be the better way to go, as opposed to Twitter’s thus far stumbling Twitter Blue strategy.

Snapchat says that it will ‘continue to drop more features’ for Snapchat+ over the coming months. 

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