Snapchat was the first social platform that facilitated the ability for you to tell a story in a series of interconnected images (and later videos). Before long Facebook saw benefit in this concept and created a version for Instagram in August 2016 – Instagram Stories. Seven months later, they added Facebook Stories to their primary platform. The latest to enter the Stories market is YouTube, inevitably called YouTube Stories.
YouTube Stories Overview
YouTube’s version of Stories differs somewhat from the competition. YouTube Stories are short mobile-only videos that expire after seven days, rather than 24 hours. You can include a mixture of video clips and photographs in your story, both freshly taken material from within the app, as well as content that can be uploaded your mobile device.
To create or manage a story within the YouTube app you click on the camera icon and then select Story. YouTube makes it easy for you to perform simple edits within the app, including trimming and adding music, filters, text, stickers, and video links.
Stories appear on the ‘Stories’ tab of channel pages. They also show in the Subscriptions feed. Any non-subscribers can subscribe to a channel directly from within a Story.
One unusual feature of YouTube Stories is that users are able to reply to comments inside a story. For example, if somebody leaves a comment relating to a particular section of a story, they can click on Reply in Story, and then record a video or photo to insert into the appropriate position.
YouTube Stories Are Still in Beta
It is still early days for YouTube Stories. YouTube began testing them in November 2017, at that point calling them Reels, and it was only in late 2018 that they rolled out the feature to a broader audience.
Currently, only YouTube creators with over 10,000 subscribers to their channel can create YouTube Stories. However, undoubtedly YouTube will extend the feature to more users over time.
This has given influencers a useful headstart on other creators and brands.
How Could YouTube Stories Impact Influencer Campaigns?
The “stories” format has been very successful for influencer marketing on the other social platforms. The uptake of Instagram Stories, in particular, has been substantial. VidMob found in a 2018 UK survey that over 63% of Instagram and Snapchat users watch stories on both platforms daily. Interestingly, that figure was 70% when VidMob polled an American audience. They also discovered that 1 in 4 Generation Z and Millennials actively seek stories of products and services they are considering buying.
The videos created for YouTube Stories are clearly very different from the typical videos shared on YouTube. They are much shorter, and there can be a real mix of content in a single story. This provides a very different YouTube experience, more akin to Instagram Stories. This offers real opportunities for influencers to reach out to fans in marketing campaigns.
The ability to record a video clip to answer a comment provides additional engagement opportunities. You can bring your followers directly into your video “posts”.
As YouTube Stories are visible to non-subscribers, sometimes appearing in their “Up Next” sidebar, this further widens the catchment for an influencer story. Indeed, they can be win-win – they encourage more people to subscribe to an influencer’s channel, as well as building interest for the promoted brand.
What Could Help YouTube Stories Succeed?
One of the best features of YouTube Stories is the seven-day lifespan. Influencers can use YouTube Stories to tell a brand’s story and keep the brands their representing at the top of their audience’s minds. The seven-day period provides more opportunities than the 24-hour limit offered by most of the competition.
Another matchwinner is the possibilities for audience engagement. Both channel subscribers, and indeed anybody else who takes an interest in the story, can comment, ask questions, and even give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the story. The influencer can then add additional clips to the story in reaction to any comments and questions.
In most cases, the time and production costs to create videos for YouTube Stories will also be substantially less than those of full-scale long-form influencer videos made for the main YouTube channels. Indeed, many of the clips could be outtakes and edits from larger productions. You don’t need any fancy editing software, either. Everything is available within the YouTube app.
In the future, we are more likely to see brands publishing Stories on their official YouTube channels too. This should help businesses show more of their brand personality, particularly if they use them to tell their brand story or to give behind the scenes peaks of the company.
What Could Hold YouTube Stories Back From Success?
Some of the early reaction to YouTube Stories has been negative. This is more to do with users wishing YouTube would fix their existing product rather than investing in new features. One Reddit user worried that YouTube was too busy copying other social media, rather than helping its existing user base – “the death of YouTube is finally coming to light”.
The beta version of YouTube Stories also lacks some obvious features. It doesn’t offer the swipe-up video liking feature of Instagram Stories, for instance. Also, while the video commenting may be useful, there are times when traditional text commenting would be preferred.
YouTube has already announced that they intend to learn from the beta. Hopefully, they will notice the teething issues and correct them before they widen the rollout further.
There is a danger that brands, in particular, will misuse YouTube Stories by simply transplanting short video ads into the format. This would turn users off as much as other traditional ads.
The Future of YouTube Stories
The jury is still out on whether YouTube Stories will succeed as an influencer marketing tool. There is evidently a lot of potentials but its success really depends on how people use the new platform feature.
Our teams at PMYB are looking forward to implementing the new platform in our Chromo-Influencer campaigns. Once we have enough data, we will report on the effectiveness of YouTube stories to our readers so stay tuned to our blog here.