I remember when I first joined Instagram a few years ago, I wondered why the profile pictures of some of my followers appeared at the top of my phone’s screen with orange-pink rings around them. When I tapped on their profiles, I found out that they posted "Stories" I had not seen. I soon realized that these types of posts are short-lived and vanish after only one day. Why would these users and even brands want to use this feature, when they have such a short lifespan? It is evident that Stories are altering the face of social media, and when used well, they can capture audiences. Let’s take a look into what this means for those who use this feature.
So, what are social media Stories? They “are mobile, full-screen, vertical videos and images that appear outside of your regular feed and only last for 24 hours before they disappear” (Gotter). Stories are temporary under one condition: they can be saved in collections on some applications such as Instagram for later viewing. Although social media Stories can be organized into these collections, the short-term nature of the content creates a sense that it is scarce. That is, viewers do not want to miss anything the accounts they follow post. Stories allow users to take advantage of this format by encouraging their followers to engage with them before they vanish.
Since 2022, Facebook continues to be the leading social media platform, which has updated its algorithms in order to better enable closer connections with friends and family through the incorporation of interactive content. As Callis Team states, “Interactive content is content that requires the participants’ active engagement—more than simply reading or watching," and this type of content can bring higher engagement with one's social media profile than standard posts one would see when visiting somebody’s account page. Using interactive content can help a user's followers be more eager about engaging with their profile.
Stories are a kind of interactive content, since they take up the entire reading screen of a mobile device. They are “shared in the moment with your audience. By using Stories—especially impromptu videos and images—you're giving your followers a glimpse into what’s happening in your life right now” (Gotter). Those who view your Stories are getting a firsthand look into your day—your story, and they feel as if they have become a part of it, since you invited them in.
The Stories format also allows for easily digestible content. In today’s busy world, it’s becoming that much easier to digest content. Viewers can spend less time preoccupied in scrolling for content and more time involving themselves with the content they enjoy. They can do so by interacting with Visual Stories which allow them to tap through them with minimal time and effort and are “a fast-loading, full-screen format for sharing images and videos on social media … [They] are a powerful way to grab a scroller’s attention and engage them with your content with stunning visuals” (“Create AMP”). The stories that are told through this format are developed in less than a minute, are fast-paced, and get straight to the action. It is for that reason why the Visuals Stories format is so popular for the likes of businesses, journalists, influencers, and personal users who all strive to engross their audiences with their storytelling.
Aside from Stories, another one of the most used forms of interactive content across some of the most popular social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok are interactive videos and live streaming, and the "rise in popularity of moving content has been on an upward trajectory over the past couple of years … In fact, by , 80% of all web traffic is predicted to come from video.” More marketers than ever before are utilizing this type of content to advertise their services and products with “20% using interactive video as part of their content strategy” (Gould). Of those marketers, more than half have reported that using video has proved to be effective with their target audiences.
On the other hand, if a personal user were to incorporate this format with the Stories feature, it can make for an engaging experience. This type of video is authentic and personal because they are recorded in the moment. They allow viewers to interact with them as they are occurring by commenting and liking. Interactive videos and livestreaming have proved effective because they allow viewers to become involved and give immediate results. These days, we want everything instantly, so whether someone wants to connect with their audience at a greater depth or drive more people to try their product or service, interactive content will help them do just that almost instantaneously.
Music as well has evolved in a similar way as has storytelling. Social media has made fans more eager than ever before to listen to more from their favorite artists. Over the years, artists have utilized platforms like YouTube to now more recently, TikTok, to help advance their careers. Social platforms have granted musicians the opportunities they originally only could have had through record companies. Previously, artists would record demos to distribute to fans and schedule time to spend in a studio. These efforts were made in the hopes that enough listeners or a representative from a record label would help promote them in the industry (“How Social Media”).
Picture of an iPhone using the TikTok app.
This rise of social media has drastically changed the way singers and bands express themselves. Just how stories are told in the Visual Stories format, the messages conveyed in music are developed in a similar way. For instance, one of the most popular songs on TikTok in 2022, was “Beggin’” by Måneskin, which opens with two lines used in the chorus before any instrumentation or introductory verses are sung. In recent years, songs have been written and performed in this style to immediately hook the audiences into the stories told through the music. In the past, songs often steadily progressed to the chorus with an introductory verse, instrumentation, and sometimes a pre-chorus. As the way storytelling has changed in social media, so has the landscape in this industry. Social media has helped to empower these artists by evening the playing field by improving the connections they have with their fans.
It is undeniable that Stories are here to stay across several social media platforms. Businesses and users of these platforms have learned how vital they are to share their messages and emotionally connect with others. They each have adapted and began to incorporate novel, scalable images and videos into their storytelling. When people tell stories, they are not simply narrating a sequence of events. They bring their audiences along with them on their individual journeys. The greater emotional response the audience gets from someone’s story, the greater possibility it will be remembered.
Written by Tatiana Rodriguez, Undergraduate Research Fellow
El Paso Community College, The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP
--Callis Team. “Interactive Social Media Content: Benefits of Interactive Content.” Callis, https://ecallis.com/insights/social-media/interactive-social-media-content/
--“Create AMP Stories, Instagram Stories & Facebook Stories.” Issuu, https://issuu.com/features/visual-stories
--Gould, Ryan. “5 Types of Interactive Content That Will Help You Stand Out.” SocialPilot, https://www.socialpilot.co/blog/types-of-interactive-content.
--Gotter, Ana. “How Social Media Stories Are Changing the Face of Social Video.” Business 2 Community, https://www.business2community.com/social-media-articles/how-social-media-stories-are-changing-the-face-of-social-video-02305367
--“How Social Media Affects the Music Industry.” Jukebox Live, https://www.jukeboxliveband.com/blog/how-social-media-affects-music-industry#:~:text=Social%20media%20continues%20to%20give,the%20time%20in%20the%20studio.
--“How Stories are Shaping the Digital Landscape.” Issuu, https://issuu.com/blog/how-stories-are-changing-social-media
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