Fashion brands and retailers are rolling out original series on Instagram Stories. More structured than the typical Story, they’re short videos that are typically released according to a schedule and edited (at the very least) for time. The expectation is that, as with a TV series, viewers will get hooked and keep coming back.
In October, Rachel Zoe — the stylist-turned-designer and editor of The Zoe Report (who reportedly reaches 14 million people across her social channels) — launched “Real Life with Rachel Zoe,” a two-minute, weekly video series based on Instagram Stories intended to be a gift for her longtime fans.
“There was this constant ask for bringing back the “The Rachel Zoe Project” [Zoe’s reality show that ran on Bravo from 2008 to 2013], so I thought, ‘How do we give people a little look into: Where is my life now?’” said Zoe, during a recent call.
Her episode themes vary from week to week, depending on her plans — one week, she’s be prepping for her New York Fashion Week presentation, the next she’s enduring a “brutal” trip. Yesterday”s episode (a new episode debuts every Sundays at 9 a.m. PT) featured her event-hopping and mingling with famous friends during Oscar weekend.
A still from the Instagram Stories series “The Real Life With Rachel Zoe”
“It’s unscripted, un-produced, not sugar-coated, not retouched,” Zoe said. “The mission is just for it to be the most natural, organic, inside look at my real life, for better or for worse.”
Fashion brands have quickly taken to Instagram Stories. According to L2’s Digital IQ Index for 2016, 55 percent of brands used Instagram Stories during fashion month in September 2016, the month after the feature launched. Only 36 percent used Snapchat, which launched in 2013.
“Instagram stories let brands engage large audiences they already know in a new way. It’s been extremely difficult for brands to understand who is following them on Snapchat and what they care about,” said Thomas Rankin, the CEO and co-founder of the visual intelligence platform Dash Hudson. He also noted that some brands are seeing Stories open rates on Instagram that are 30 percent higher than those on Snapchat.
“The smartest brands know that while it’s important to story-tell via a series, it’s necessary to be always on to get deep and consistent engagement,” he said.
Brands have made various attempts to launch Instagram Stories–based series. So far, most have been more like mini-series, meant to be short-lived: To promote the brand’s holiday-perfect styles, Altuzarra teamed with Barneys to launch an Instagram Stories series that played out over two consecutive days in December. More recently, Converse launched a three-part video series tied to its new fashion sneaker.
Before Stories came about, brands including Dior introduced series on Instagram’s standard feed. Even post-launch, a few brands have refused to make the transition: During New York Fashion Week in February, on Instagram’s original feed, Michael Kors ran a three-part series called “Kors Commute,” which featured the brand’s designer chatting with industry insiders like Nina Garcia from the back of a limo. When asked about future plans for flipping to Instagram Stories, a representative for Kors said the brand has nothing to share at this time.
Even so, more fashion brands have taken to Instagram Stories series versus Snapchat Shows, with just hit in February. Currently, the closest thing fashion fans have on the Snapchat side is “The Rundown,” a pop-culture–focused show that touches on celebrity style that’s produced by E! News.
“I think they’re all great, and they’re all fun, and they all work for different reasons,” Zoe said, regarding today’s platforms. “I am on Snapchat, but I’ve really built my following more on Instagram, and I’m also on Twitter and Facebook — they’re more my audience and my demographic.”
Zoe said she has no definite plans for her weekly series, but she’s anxious to see if it “works” before she promotes it in a big way on The Zoe Report, on rachelzoe.com and across her social channels.
As for whether she will eventually make the series episodes shoppable: “That would be the dream scenario,” she said. “Any time we can integrate the [elements of my company] more, through any medium or outlet, it’s amazing.”