Nowadays, nearly every company in the market is facing a strong competitive pressure due in part, to the impact of new technologies, but also to the need to change the way to communicate and promote products/services [1
]. Social media has become an indispensable part of daily life, a means for creating assertive communication between brands and consumers [2
] and is becoming a larger component of a firm’s advertising budgets [3
]. Companies, in all industries, are beginning to understand the possibilities that social media can offer and have changed their strategy towards how brands engage with and reach out to their customers [4
]. For this reason, most every organization have evolved their approach to clients, moving from traditional one-to-many communication to a one-to-one system [5
] that allows them to reach each client in a unique way [6
]. In fact, during the last five years, advertising agencies, have found it more challenging to approach the public through conventional media [7
]. Social networks have come to stay, and have become a new channel of communication for products [8
]. However, they are here not only to communicate [9
], but also to encourage the possibility of identifying and establishing regular, direct and customized interactions [10
]. In this way, some social networks such as Instagram have changed their strategy. Nowadays, they are dedicated to informing or making companies’ products known [11
], and also have become a sales channel [12
]. As a result, companies are exploring new techniques to generate content that not only inform but entertain consumers [13
] to increase engagement [14
] and, in turn, improve the consumer–brand relationships [15
]. Therefore, the objective is not only that the consumer receives the message, but to stimulate the purchase intention to the product [16
Unfortunately, it is challenging to integrate this new paradigm in the current situation, as consumers are facing advertising saturation [17
] of traditional formats [18
]. However, this also means an opportunity for new advertising formats, especially in social media networks [1
]. Accordingly, several authors suggest that to improve the communication of the company with their potential consumers [19
] it is crucial to create an advertisement which generates content that goes beyond passive communication [20
] that traditionally have demonstrated to have a reduced impact on customer interactions [21
]. Consumers may become aware of brands through social media in different ways, such as social media posts of friends or by brand-generated content from the firm [22
] or with brand alliances [12
]. In line with this argument, some authors [23
] have suggested taking into account the general customer experience when assessing the marketing strategy in an online environment. The brand social campaigns carried out by the companies have made it possible to encourage continuous interaction between the consumer and the brand’s history throughout the day [24
]. This situation has improved the relationship between the consumer and the brand, and thus helps the marketing managers in the companies to guide and persuade consumers to buy products/services [25
]. As a result, brand-generated content has been suggested as a clear strategy to overcome those limitations to communicate the products/services of the company [26
] and achieve long-lasting bonds between the firm and the customer [27
A clear example of brand-generated content in social media is the concept of Instagram “stories” and “publications” that has received great acceptance from both companies and customers [28
]. Instagram stories can be considered as a modality that merges brand-generated content and entertainment [29
]. For this reason, entertainment has played a fundamental role in the activity of social networks because it allows better penetration of the content in the life of the user [30
]. In contrast to traditional publications, Instagram stories can amplify the brand message, producing “viralization” [31
]. The key is that the brand-generated content of these stories must provide engaging entertainment or information, and in turn, offer a differential value for the recipient [32
]. Some authors [23
] argue that customer experience in an online environment goes beyond cognitive (informativeness) and instead should be directed to affective (entertainment) dimensions. We can observe how these advertising messages are being elaborated in such a way that the consumer is the one who looks for the content; entertainment is part of the message and brands become providers of experiences [33
]. Some authors [25
] have already proposed to investigate as future lines if a message portfolio can be consistent with a single brand strategy and what could be the impact on the interaction with it.
In summary, companies are continually looking for alternatives to attract customers to their brands and at the same time communicate the features of the products/services. However, still there are doubts about the usefulness of each type of format (story or publications) when sharing the message. To fill in these gaps, this research analyzes and compare the interaction of Instagram stories and publications based on reach and impressions for each of them. The idea is to maximize the impact in terms of social that could have for the company. The data used in this research comes from 800 publications/stories randomly selected from four firms (two retailers and two manufactures). The rest of the study is organized as follows. The first part analyses the literature on brand-generated content and Instagram. Following our theoretical model is proposed. In the third section, it is explained the methodology to carry out the study. Next, the main results obtained are described. Finally, the last section discusses the main limitations and future research guidelines that could be explored.
From 2012 until today, the increase in entertainment actions has been progressive [13
]. The educational, business, academic and informational fields have experienced a growing interest in brand-generated content. One of these new tools is Instagram’s stories that allow consumers to interact with advertisers’ content in an entertainment context, where brands offer entertainment and content with a high level of quality. In this way, Instagram stories provide the possibility to interact with content and the brand [46
]. The brand-generated content strategically applied to Instagram stories helps advertisers to access their consumers more effectively, through engaging and suggestive content, which they want to access. In this sense, we have demonstrated that reach plays an essential role in explaining the interaction with the brand content generated by the firm. This new form of advertising content is also more versatile and dynamic [27
] but also has its drawback as repeated impressions from stories do not guarantee interaction with the brand content generated by the firm. However, they do favor the link that the user establishes with the brand insofar as the user decides to select the display of one content against another. This research reinforces the need for organizations not only to be present on social networks due to the benefits they generate in terms of interaction, visibility and trust, but also to create the content of interest to their users, with which they can interact and whose publications in stories reinforce the publications and, therefore, the reach.
Brand strategies have evolved in recent years so that communication goes beyond the space provided by traditional media [33
]. The Internet has allowed users to decide when, how and where they want to see content, as well as which content they want to share. The rejection by users of advertising content seriously damages the impact that brands should generate [17
], and allow users more straightforward ways to avoid contact with unwanted advertising [47
Today’s consumers have been living with advertising for years, so that they know their records and, in many cases, flee from it, especially those who are better informed. Particularly, those who belong to more advanced sectors of society and have access to multiple sources through technology, and, therefore, consume on-demand content without interruption and advertising breaks [48
]. The effectiveness of traditional advertising has been questioned for some years now. The scenario in which it is projected has been evolving, and communication goes beyond the space provided by traditional media, adopting multiple forms [8
]. In this context, clients and users are defined according to their contact with the brand [21
]. In the quest to understand consumer behavior, this research has investigated the impact of brand-generated content of Instagram stories and publications on social media interaction. Our results mostly confirm that the reach of stories is crucial to explain interaction, whether impressions determine publication interaction. And it is in this interaction that we have been able to see how publications take on a more significant role in the interaction with the consumer. This result confirms why it was relevant to be able to assess the impact of the story. In this study, we were able to demonstrate how stories and publications receive positive feedback, generating greater interactivity with the user and, therefore, greater scope for the brand.
In contrast, we have found that interactions with the publication are explained in a greater extent by the impressions in the customers. These results mark a trend that, while not a radical change, does require new forms and styles of communication for these publications to increase their effectiveness and that they can be adapted to their target audience. In this way, brands are encouraged to transmit their values by promoting a medium-term benefit [36
] and improving the consumer experience in the long term and also its style and differentiating characteristics. This result again proves that most of the problems suffered by companies nowadays are due to the lack of proficiency by companies. We are facing an unprecedented saturation in the world of communication in social networks [11
], and the big problem that conventional advertising has to face is its lack of recall [35
]. To alleviate the difficulties suffered by advertising today is essential to rely on a firm with proved experience in managing social networks [24
]. The design of the publications must be done meticulously to reach a more significant number of users that guarantee the interaction with the company.
The evolution in the insertion of content that companies are carrying out in recent years was already evident in the Annual study of Social Networks of IAB Spain (HTTPS://IABSPAIN.ES
, which found that in 2016 there were 19 million people who used social networks in Spain. The increase has been so progressive that they have reached 26 million users in 2020. In this last year, data also show significant figures concerning Instagram as it is the second network (81%) in frequency of use behind WhatsApp (96%). However, Facebook continues to lead the number of users. Another relevant piece of data about this evolution is that one in three users consider that brands with social profiles generate greater trust. The access to be able to interact with the brands is mainly focused on customer service, that is, the user perceives the proximity of the company, being the most followed sectors those that provide the user with information about entertainment, culture and media. In this study, being aware that the data cannot be extrapolated to the vast universe of retail or manufacturing, it is possible to perceive how the impressions present a higher level of connectivity with the user, even though the scope may be similar. Being the results of the impressions in firm A and B similar, there is an essential variation of the levels of significance. Besides, the firms C and D, present a significant and minor result respectively, to the two previous ones. This result leads us to consider in the future the increase in the volume of manufacturer and retailer companies, and it is also possible to have stories or publications per company. However, the result is more influenced by the differences in the behavior of the printing of the publications than in the number of them. The variations mentioned above also affect the fact that there may be a quantitative imbalance that can be supported by a quantum analysis of the content of the stories and publications to obtain more data that would allow us to make a more precise assessment of the scope and the impressions.
While it is true that it is demonstrated that both new forms of communication, stories and publications, not only attracts but also suggests or proposes a way of living the brand universe, as opposed to the push communication of the mass media.
It is necessary to emphasize the importance of this qualitative leap. The traditional media are not technically capable of offering the user a direct interaction at the moment the user is willing to do it, and they cannot adapt to users’ needs, time, pace, and even geographical position [9
]. However, social networks, and in particular, Instagram, as we have seen, respond through their stories and publications to users’ demands for content. Advertisers consider that it plays a decisive role in their global strategy, and their knowledge of the multiple possibilities it offers, to entertainment, makes it increasingly popular [10
]. The search for engagement, brand image and notoriety continue to be the values most emphasized by advertisers, and they are also involved in the development of the actions.
This research contributes to understanding the qualitative and quantitative leap that is gradually taking place in the behavior of consumers and companies when it comes to establishing interrelations [39
]. This study helps to provide answers to how social media is a choice to increase the effectiveness of a promotional or advertising activities and in particular how stories and publications favor their dissemination and interactivity with the consumer, through the evaluation of impressions and reach. This information can be valuable for advertisers, companies and community managers who face the challenge of establishing strategies to bring their products and services closer to users with a limited budget and conditioned by the set objectives.