Research Proposal

Social Media Stories: Research and Case Studies


To understand how service brands use social media stories and posting to drive engagement and sales. This information will be used to inform digital marketing services client communication.

Early Findings

Social Media Stories

  • Social media stories will continue to be a trend in 2020.
  • Adding images, micro-videos, and valuable content, with a clear call to action (CTA) are recommended social stories marketing tactics.
  • Specific content should be authentic, creative, and human (potentially using emojis, videos, stickers) and communicated succinctly, as the trend toward "ephemeral" content (available for only a limited amount of time before disappearing) will continue in 2020.

Instagram Stories

  • 'Instagram Stories' was launched in 2016 and grew to 500 million daily active users by 2019. 110 million Instagram Stories users are in the United States.
  • Instagram is making stories shareable on Facebook, to reach more users and cross-promote content.
  • Instagram Stories allows interactive content, with tools such as polls, quizzes, and questions. Users can also be invited to a private chat via Stories. Interactive tools within Stories can be used to generate new product and services ideas.
  • 25% of Gen Z and millennials use Instagram Stories to find information about products and services they are interested in.
  • 36% of businesses use Instagram Stories to promote their products or services.
  • 59% of brands link Instagram Stories to a "shoppable page."
  • On average, brands post on Instagram Stories 2.3 times per week.
  • 60% of brands used an interactive polling "sticker" (in which a poll was embedded in an ad) in their Instagram story. Dunkin Donuts found the cost-per-video view of an ad with the polling sticker was 20% lower than an ad without the polling sticker.
  • One-third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories were brand posts.

Instagram Stories Advertising: Best Practices

  • Some best practices in Instagram Stories advertising include focusing on the creative (56% of brand sales lift is attributed to quality of creative), offering fast, dynamic content, providing vertical presentation of video (82% of smartphone users hold their phones vertically), including a CTA, ensuring the brand is prominent in the advertising (start and finish with brand), and incorporating interactive elements.

Facebook Stories

  • Consumers are also engaged with Facebook Stories, which reached 500 million daily active users after two years.
  • In 2019, Facebook noted that 3 million advertisers had purchased Stories advertisements.
  • A recent Hubspot survey found that 70% of US consumers prefer to watch Facebook Stories (compared to 17% Instagram and 13% Snapchat).

Snapchat Stories

  • Snapchat launched its stories prior to Facebook and Instagram, but there is some evidence that Snapchat Stories are declining in popularity.
  • A recent MediaKix survey of influencers indicated that they are posting 33% less on Snapchat and 25% more on Instagram stories.

Paid Social Advertising: Additional Findings

  • According to Gartner, most brands (80%) prefer paid over organic social media marketing.
  • Social media budgets increased 20% in 2019 and brands have used this channel for personalized, targeted advertising.
  • Using video content is another trend in paid social, with 93% of brands claiming to have gained new customers based on video content digital advertising.
  • Half of brands use video in Instagram Stories advertising, which has a 5.65% lower skip rate than stories with static images.
  • Transparency in social advertising is a trend, with brands being required to acknowledge sponsored content.

Case Studies


  • Airbnb leverages user-generated content (travel photos) in their Instagram posts, with a tagline "Don't just go there. Live there."
  • The brand campaign is focused on the experience (versus the accommodations), communicated through visually compelling posts.
  • The campaign drives engagement, with each post generating between 3,000 and 14,000 Instagram "likes."



  • IHOP launched a Twitter campaign in the summer of 2018, temporarily changing their name to IHOb, and asking consumers to participate in guessing what the 'b' stood for.
  • The company generated strong engagement from users (30,000 submitted guesses) and the name reveal (with the 'b' representing 'burgers') received 15,000 retweets. YouGov noted IHOP's 'Word of Mouth' score rose in the week after the name was revealed and the restaurant's burger sales quadrupled.
  • The success of the campaign was attributed to generating consumer engagement (through its interactive guessing game) and keeping the campaign lighthearted and fun.

  • uses Instagram Stories to showcase visually appealing home shots, segmented by the area of the house.
  • The advertising is considered effective due to its creativity and its ability to offer information while not appearing overly promotional.


  • TransferWise is a global tech company focused on global money transfers, offering customer benefits of convenience and value.
  • TransferWise developed a series of innovative, recipe-focused videos for Instagram Stories to bring the concept of their service to life and make it relatable.
  • The fast-moving, "playful", engaging videos drove engagement rates that were 5-10% higher than those in the main feed.
  • Victoria Boccerana, TransferWise paid social operational lead, said about the success of the Stories campaign, "Instagram Stories has been a game-changer in how TransferWise has run its paid social efforts in the last 15 months, scaling bespoke creative production for Stories from 0 to over 150. It has given us the opportunity to push our creative boundaries to unprecedented heights, allowing us to reach over 50 million people globally in a new, exciting and engaging format."


Summary of Early Findings Relevant to the Goals

  • In this early research, we uncovered statistics, trends and insights surrounding paid social advertising and, more specifically, social media "stories." We were able to find more information around Instagram Stories compared to other platforms, though there is a good amount of information available for all the platforms.
  • We were able to uncover a number of social advertising and stories case studies, which were profiled here. We focused on service businesses in early research.
  • Additionally, we provided very high-level best practices relating to brand advertising on Instagram Stories.
  • Most of our findings and case studies were US-based.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.
  • Recommendations are based on information uncovered in early research.
Prepared By
Jill L.
Marketing & Advertising Specialist
255 assignments | 5.0