26 Apr 2017

How Facebook Stories might help travel tell its tale

Great brands are the ones that tell the best stories and, at last, it seems there is going to be an effective platform to help travel brands tell their stories.

Facebook is the latest social platform to get on board with a “Stories” function, launched by Snapchat and copied by Instagram, and we can’t help but get excited by the prospect.

NB: This is a viewpoint by Sarah Flannery, head of display, Forward 3D.

Video is increasingly important content to social. Cisco predicts that by 2020 video will account for 80% or all consumer internet traffic.

And there is virtually no-one in the developed world who isn’t a social user.

In the brave new world of social media, users see content as ephemeral. It’s entertaining, it’s unusual and it’s beautiful – and after 24 hours, it’s often gone for good.

Snapchat is the pioneer of the Stories video content format and still leads the way in the amount of video consumed, but other platforms are catching up.

For brands that see visual communication as key, this is something of a watershed moment.

The travel industry in particular is well-attuned to video content. Bringing the realism as well as escapism of travel destinations to life, video can tell viewers so much more about a hotel, a beach, a restaurant or resort.

We’ve already seen proof of the impact beautiful photography and the vivid storytelling of avid travellers can have. It’s time this was translated into video with reach to match.

We’ve been using video to tell stories for a while now. We launched an Instagram Stories Ad for Virgin Holidays.

Run over four days, the Instagram story showcased New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco with footage that matched the real-time, playful tone of the Instagram platform.

ROI and completion rates were exponentially higher than previous Instagram video campaigns, with CPMs more than 60% cheaper.

But while Instagram may be the home of the stylish shot, the aspirational expression of life through a (filter) lens, it is not always ideal for brands who want to spread the word.

Whilst it’s a very targeted platform, it still only reaches – at best – 10-20% of the population.

Facebook on the other hand is used by more than 78% of UK adults (over 18) and, with similar popularity in other Western nations, its reach is unparalleled.

Even Snapchat, with its 66 daily video views per user, is about to pale in comparison to Facebook. It may lag in views per user currently five, according to Business Insider but this is based on a user base of 1.6 billion people to Snapchat’s 150 million.

There is also the demographic to consider. Facebook is hugely democratic in this respect, covering most of the population but with a lean towards the 25+ market.

Snapchat may have the young, free and single adventurer market sewn up but Facebook has the share of wallet that big brands look for.

Visual quality is also something the platform is working on, recognising that to make Stories work it has had to launch a new Facebook camera experience which won’t initially be open to advertisers.

Despite its very Beta state at the moment, there are several aspects that appeal.

Firstly, reach is undoubtedly Facebook’s USP. While other social networks such as Instagram have their own USPs, including beautiful imagery, Facebook is the obvious choice for brands which want both scale and value.

Secondly, the ability to go full screen with video is going to be huge. It’s not just a great way to showcase video content, it’s novel to users.

The News Feed is a cluttered place to be. Brands have to fight to be current and stand out either through creative or targeting. The Stories function is going to be attention grabbing.

With video being used in Facebook Stories, advertisers are going to have to approach their suite of assets in a different way.

They are going to have to make sure they maintain the high production values that sell travel so well but at the same time make sure that they deliver across enough platforms.

It won’t signal the death of high quality content that can have a long shelf life,  brands need to make sure that the content can also be produced quickly to use on appropriate social channels.

If used correctly, travel brands have a huge opportunity to inform, entertain and delight, if they are telling the right story.

NB: This is a viewpoint by Sarah Flannery, head of display, Forward 3D.

NB2: Story image via Rawpixel for BigStock.

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