Instagram Stories' Potential To Enhance Your Supply Chain And Brand

How companies can use Instagram stories to improve their supply chain and brand

18Jan

On August 2nd, 2016, Instagram launched their new feature 'Stories'. Borrowing heavily from other social media (read: Snapchat) models, the feature lets the user share 'moments' from their day. These moments take the form of multiple photos and videos that appear in a slideshow format but disappear 24 hours after being posted. It's a feature that intentionally defies the permanence that's intrinsic to posts on Facebook, Instagram's regular feed and other social media sites. It also boosts engagement enormously. If your friend's story is going to disappear in 24 hours, there's a real sense of urgency to look at it immediately. And it's been an overwhelming success: Smart Insights reported that Instagram Stories have 250 million active daily users as of November 2017. This is more users than Snapchat, the originator's of the 'story' concept, currently have. In their latest earnings report, they revealed they have just 150 million active users after a rocky couple of years. Instagram is 'doing' the story better than its creators.

But the feature does not have to be limited to friends sharing photos of their #instagrammable brunches. Used correctly, a story can be a creative content-delivery service to sculpt a much smarter supply chain, grow brand awareness and build rapport with potential customers. According to Smart Insights, Instagram doubled its user base between 2015-2017 to 800 million - that's 800 million potential customers and buyers who could be watching your company's story.

Instagram has a young demographic, with 59% of Instagram users being between 18-29 years old. A MadeWithMerit report shows that 73% of millennial workers are involved in decisions to purchase products or services for their companies. This is a new generation of B2B buyers who's decisions are heavily influenced by what they see on social media. Moreover, they can use social media, including Instagram stories, to source new talent for their supply chains. It's crucial for companies to have an up-to-date presence to succeed, and utilizing Instagram stories provides a platform on which to educate potential buyers.

Visibility in the supply chain has never been more important to consumers, with a Label Insight study suggesting that 94% of consumers are likely to offer loyalty to transparent brands. Instagram stories have enormous potential to market the transparency of a company's supply chain. For example, U, one of France's largest supermarket chains, launched 'Fresh Stories' on Snapchat to demonstrate the freshness of their fish. Fresh Stories documents the fish's journey, from the fisherman to the shop floor. This way U can seamlessly demonstrate transparency within their supply chain, providing tangible proof that the journey from supplier to the store takes less than 24 hours. This step-by-step method of demonstrating supply chain processes can be easily translated into a company's Instagram story to generate traction.

The story format is also a very effective method of humanizing your company. According to a report by Havas Media, only 22% of brands are trusted by consumers, so it's never been more important to give your business the 'human touch'. Social Media is undeniably the best tool to avoid being seen as a faceless corporation. Utilizing the story feature to upload short clips and images can give the impression of 'candid' behind-the-scenes shots of the company, so customers can see and experience your brand's personality. This way you can show a real, but still tactfully created, glimpse into your business's supply chain.

Companies can use the Instagram stories 24-hour window for special offers by providing a time-limited code or directing followers to a specific landing page. JCrew was one of the first companies to take advantage of Instagram stories for offers like this when they promoted a line of pink sunglasses. They offered their Instagram followers the exclusive opportunity to purchase a pair one week before the official launch of the September 2016 collection. Through sharing a mix of GIFS and photos, they announced that only 50 pairs were available, directing them through a link in their bio. According to Curalate, half of the merchandise sold out in just two hours, and six hours after their launch the whole stock was snapped up.

Perhaps one of the most useful features for the supply chain is the immediate feedback a company can receive using the story feature. A business can use Instagram stories to host Q&A sessions, with clips of up to 10 seconds responding to inquiries the customers ask in real-time. The immediacy of the response ensures a customer feels genuinely listened to. It also helps highlight issues consumers have with the company and the supply chain, such as failing deliveries, providing invaluable data. 

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