Peer-To-Peer Pressure: Risks vs Reward and a Changing Regulatory Landscape

Peer-To-Peer Pressure: Risks vs. Reward and a Changing Regulatory Landscape

Peer to peer lending also known as P2P is not a new phenomenon.

People have always turned to their friends and family for financial assistance when caught between a rock and a hard place. It was either that or the cutthroat pawnshop owner or the shadowy lenders down a dark alley. Before the recession, many a person in need of a loan could comfortably approach a bank and get their credit problems solved. However, with the collapse witnessed in the banking sector, things took an about turn, and stringent borrowing measures took the loan out of reach for most people in need.  

The rise of peer to peer lending

The rise in the popularity of peer to peer lending has been partly attributed to a growing need for alternative lending sources outside the brick and mortar lending institutions. The other could be the financial need of the younger generations in the job market that does not have the stable financial future cushion the older generations had to rely on.  With little in terms of job security, the gig economy is on the rise, meaning that there will not be much to rely on as far as employer matched pension benefits are concerned. So millennials and their peers are out there looking for a way to make that extra buck that will make their future more comfortable.  These age groups are also leaving tertiary institutions tangled in high student debt more than witnessed in any other generation in history. They, therefore, need these alternative lending sites, for credit for their business ideas and start-ups, since most of them are deemed not worthy of credit by most banks.

Why P2P lending has had such an unbeaten run

With this crowdfunding method, you will be matched to an investor willing to lend you cash for interest. Banks have for eons thrived on low-interest charges lent to savings accounts and high-interest charges lent to creditors.  Younger investors have found out that P2P lending can give them higher returns on their investments, much better than bank savings.

With these ultra-low rates on savings, banks have put their clientele in a bind and opened the door for alternative lending sources. These alternatives have thrived and taken away their customers right under their noses. P2P lending also has fewer overheads than brick and mortar lenders. Investors, therefore, can have better ROIs and also give affordable interest rates to the borrowers…It’s a win-win for all parties.

The dark clouds on the horizon

As for 2018, the peer to peer lending industry in the U.S had hit the $3 billion mark. A clarion call is continually being sent out to more youngsters with deep pockets to join in, in the largely unregulated trade. Riding on the wave of financial technology they are appealing to millennials who have a deep distrust for banks and their out of date and inefficient systems. This age group are digital mavens and flourish where the service and industry are, and so, they are responding in droves to the P2P attraction.

P2P lending is of course very different from traditional lending or short-term lending from companies.  Why? If you are planning to lend some money to your friend, you will have a harder time making that transaction legal. Banks thrive in the legalism they in conjunction with the law have built for mutual interest. P2P is however very different from cash saving for investors or lenders. An investor could lose everything they have plowed into lending for interest if the borrower defaults. The transaction in this sector are primarily unprotected and not covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  

Peer-To-Peer Pressure

In the UK, financial regulators are preparing methods to crack down on the marketing efforts of P2P lending sites in fear that more people are throwing their money into these pools through false advertising. In 2018, these platforms transacted £6.1bn as loans. And while there is great risk apportioned to these investment platforms, the reward is that their interest rates far exceed most of what is found on other investment instruments.

However as young investors enjoy the rates and grow their savings, the UK Financial Conduct Authority has its eyes fixed on the glossy ads that are inviting more and more hapless investors to the market.  Most are going overboard and putting in more they can afford in the hopes of striking it rich. With reported increased investor losses on loans, profits to investors are on a decline, and many a long time investor is preparing to leave the scene.

Regulation and closure

There has been increasing criticism over this crowdfunding method, especially after the massive collapse of their Chinese P2P lending platforms in 2016. One of the greatest dangers these platforms raise to investor assets is that they often grow to large pools of money giving the platform owners the onus loan out more risky investments in a bid to expand.  

The expansion helps the platform sell off the business faster with less worry about the risks they have put their investors in. They can just get their millions, wash off their hands and walk away to the sunset, leaving their investor’s finances in disarray. In China P2P lending took off like fire to fuel, hitting 6000 platforms in a few years. By 2017, the transactions this industry commanded totaled more than $445 billion. In a move to regulate the sector, the Chinese government moved in to shut down some platforms like Ezubao that was more Ponzi in its operations than a crowdfunding business.  

Soon some of the Chinese largest P2P lenders started to exit the scene claiming that the new regulations were making it hard to turn in a profit. As of February 2018, there were less than 2000 platforms of this nature operating in China. With the Chinese government still on the move with regulations more and more platforms shut down, often freezing the assets of their investors on their downward spiral. Lenders began to panic and withdrew their funds en masse causing a further loss of funds and investor confidence in the sector.

Guo Shuqing, the chair of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission later issued a statement to the effect that investors had swallowed hook line and sinker the ‘too good to be true’ deal that Chinese P2P platforms represented. He warned that while the high returns of 6% were questionable, those beyond 8% were dangerous, while those higher than 10% would cause investment losses. The upheaval witnessed in China has not hit the United States yet, but with growth, it is expected that the law and the taxman will make a move too.

Pros of P2P lending

  • Peer to peer platforms fills a natural void in the lending market and in the community need to share the resources available to them. There is a mutually beneficial relationship between borrower and lender that has less red tape than experienced in other lending sectors
  • You will get to enjoy higher returns than those of many different investment channels.  
  • You have the choice of who to lend depending on your risk tolerance.
  • There is a lot of personal satisfaction derived from helping out a worthy person in genuine need of finances. If for example a borrower has a sketchy financial history, but has a sob story that arouses your sympathy, you can assume the risk of the loan or forego the high returns of the investment.
  • The sense of community and camaraderie in P2P sites is very inviting, and their forums are very heated and active. There is also the spirit of helping each learn about healthy borrowing and lending.
  • It is a good investment source for anyone that dislikes saving their cash in a bank
  • The denial rate for P2p loans is much lower than what is witnessed in banks.
  • The borrowing and lending relationships built over time can be forged to more profitable long-term relationships due to the nature of the platforms
  • The opportunity to invest and make profits is open to small scale investors as well who would have a harder time reaping off such benefits in other sectors
  • As per statistics, over 80% of all investors on these lending platforms have either met or exceeded their ROI. It works!

 Cons of P2P lending

  • The available loans are often small and in many P2P platforms limited to $35,000, though there are variances.
  • Poor credit histories will still keep some borrowers away
  • The loans are not insured so a lender capital could be entirely or partly lost, especially when dealing with dishonest borrowers who have perfected their sob storytelling techniques
  • P2P platforms tend to publish what many borrowers consider private financial stories. Some borrowers may, therefore, prefer an impersonal brick and mortar lender to the publicity of a P2P platform
  • As the industry grows and shapes itself, regulations, consolidations may become a risk and a burden, chasing away disciplined investors.

Our advice

To stay on the safe side, do your due diligence before committing your hard-earned cash to a P2P platform. Gauge the health of a platform not only by its sheer size, but by its performance for years. Do as much as you to minimize your exposure by ensuring that you do not put all your eggs in one single basket.

Article Produced By
Mark

https://themerkle.com/peer-to-peer-pressure-risks-vs-reward-and-a-changing-regulatory-landscape/

2019 Japan Prize Awarded for Significant Achievements in Technology and Science

2019 Japan Prize Awarded for Significant Achievements in Technology and Science

                                

Bitsonline was fortunate this week to attend the 35th Japan Prize presentation ceremony in Tokyo.

The Prize, similar in status to the Nobel Prize, is awarded annually to recognize significant contributions to progress in science and technology. The ceremony at Japan’s National Theater included Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, senior members of the country’s scientific community, and several government ministers.

Receiving the Japan Prize in 2019 were Prof. Yoshio Okamoto for Materials and Production research and Prof. Rattan Lal for Biological Production and Energy. Both Laureates have worked in several countries and made breakthroughs that have been applied on large scales worldwide. They receive the official Prize medallion and certificate, plus ¥50 million JPY ($449,000 USD) in cash. However the real prize is the international prestige and formal recognition of years of work, and in acknowledging the benefits their discoveries have produced for humanity.

Breakthroughs Greatly Improved Medical Treatments, Food Production

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Okamoto (77) stressed the need for persistence in scientific research. Scientists who dedicated most of their time to pursuing their field of interest “have a good chance to make at least two or three major scientific breakthroughs” in their careers, he said. Prof. Okamoto lived by his words, with a reputation in his younger years for sleeping overnight in his laboratory because he was too impatient to wait until the next morning to see the results of his experiments.

In 1977 he discovered “by accident”, according to him, a process to efficiently separate “right-handed” from “left-handed” optical isomers — something that was not even considered theoretically possible at the time. The discovery enabled mass production of optically active drug treatments; chemical compounds that were mirror-image identical and could be either safe or toxic due to this asymmetric nature. It took him five years to perfect the process, which has since become widely used in the pharmaceutical production industry and has benefited researchers working on other treatments.

Prof. Lal developed processes for soil management in agriculture, beginning his research in 1970. By studying regions where soil degradation had diminished crop-growing capacity, he was able to develop new techniques to capture carbon dioxide from plants and the atmosphere, revitalizing heavily-used soil in harsh environments. His work has been vital to sustaining food production in a world expected to top 9.8 billion in population by 2050, with techniques that result in better soil quality and longer use, improved water quality, and also mitigate the effects of climate change.

How the Japan Prize Has Contributed to Science, World Peace and Prosperity

The Japan Prize was conceived in the 1980s as a way for Japan to make a global contribution to scientific progress, and enjoys a status similar to the Nobel Prize. Like the Nobel Prize, the award is given to recipients who are still living in recognition for past achievements, some decades-old. Generally, two science/technology fields are honored each year, although the Prize can be shared among multiple individuals. Researchers from all regions of the world have been recognized, with the majority being citizens of the U.S. or Japan. The 2019 presentation ceremony was a landmark for the Emperor, who took the throne in 1989 and at 85 is set to hand it to his eldest son on May 1st — in just three weeks’ time. As Crown Prince in the mid-1980s he had played a part in establishing the Prize, and as Emperor has presented all but four of the awards.

The nomination, awards and ceremony are administered by the Japan Prize Foundation, established with a donation from Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic Corporation (known as Matsushita Corp. in Japan). Every year over 13,000 nominators from the world scientific community present potential candidates. A Selection Committee then evaluates candidates with an emphasis on their achievements and their impact on peace and prosperity. The foundation’s Board of Directors then makes the final decision.

Article Produced By
Jon Southurst

Jon Southurst is a Senior Editor at Bitsonline. He is based mainly in Tokyo, and is interested in the roles Asian economies play in developing cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

https://bitsonline.com/2019-japan-prize-ceremony/

Upgraded Hyperledger Fabric Sees 7-Fold Increase in Transaction Speed

Upgraded Hyperledger Fabric Sees 7-Fold Increase in Transaction Speed
           

Researchers have re-engineered the Hyperledger Fabric

to support almost seven times more transactions per second (TPS), according to a May 2 news release from Canada’s University of Waterloo. A new series of optimizations increased the volume of data that the blockchain — used by financial institutions, IT giants and engineering companies — can process. Where it formerly maxed out around 3,000 TPS, the researchers claim they managed to achieve 20,000 TPS.

The university’s work focused on improving “end-to-end transaction throughput” by redesigning Fabric’s ordering service, transaction service and data management layer. This means that the blockchain is more practical for “fast-paced sectors such as e-commerce.” Christian Gorenflo, one of its PhD candidates,

explained:

“Our modifications are completely under-the-hood. Fabric’s application programming interfaces and modularity stay intact, so existing applications work just as before.”

Professor Lukasz Golab said the researchers are now in discussions with major Fabric contributors who want to adopt their optimizations in future releases. Golab described the reception so far as very positive. Professor Srinivasan Keshav explained that the team is now determined to pursue further optimizations, which they believe could take Hyperledger Fabric’s capacity to 50,000 TPS.

The Hyperledger community has been expanding apace. In February, Intel launched a commercial package through the ecosystem. The package is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain quickly and efficiently. Italy’s postal service, Poste Italiane, joined in January, following in the footsteps of America’s FedEx, which claimed the technology has “big, big implications” for supply chains and transportation. IBM is using its Hyperledger-based blockchain platform to improve supply chain management in the mining industry and ensure commodities such as cobalt are sourced responsibly.

Article Produced By
Thomas Simms

Thomas is a British reporter who loves all things breaking news and crypto. When out of the office, he also likes backgammon and gin.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/upgraded-hyperledger-fabric-sees-7-fold-increase-in-transaction-speed

SeedInvest Gains FINRA Approval as Alternative Trading System a Month After Circle Buyout

SeedInvest Gains FINRA Approval as Alternative Trading System a Month After Circle Buyout

           

SeedInvest, the equity crowdfunding platform

owned by crypto-friendly payment giant Circle, has gained approval to offer secondary shares trading, crypto industry news outlet The Block reported on April 26. The platform, which Circle bought out for an undisclosed sum in March this year, can now allow its users to trade startup shares via its accreditation as an Alternative Trading System.

The company got the go-ahead from the United States Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a month after gaining initial regulatory approval. At the time, Circle praised SeedInvest for its input in aiding the U.S. startup investment scene, notably through its assistance with the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. “As a crowdfunding pioneer in the United States, SeedInvest helped to shape the JOBS Act,” a blog post read.

It continued:

“Today they are at the forefront of enabling startups to raise capital directly from investors over the internet — creating new capital formation options for startups and growth companies, and giving average retail investors the opportunity to invest directly into innovative private companies.”

Circle, meanwhile, continues to see growth in various sectors of the crypto economy. As Cointelegraph reported, the company’s over-the-counter trading desk for large-volume investors saw turnover of $24 billion in 2018. Also in March, reports emerged that Circle was seeking fresh funding to the tune of $250 million. The company was previously known for securing investment from Goldman Sachs.

Article Produced By
William Suberg

William Suberg got into Bitcoin while completing his Masters degree and hasn't looked back since, writing about anything crypto-related which makes him sit up and pay attention. He started working with Cointelegraph in October 2013.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/seedinvest-gains-finra-approval-as-alternative-trading-system-a-month-after-circle-buyout

Report: United States-Based Crypto Exchange ErisX Is About to Launch its Trading Platform

 
Report:
United States-Based Crypto Exchange ErisX Is About to Launch its Trading Platform
            

Chicago-based cryptocurrency exchange EriX

is reportedly about to launch its spot trading service, industry news outlet The Block reports on April 24. Per the report, the exchange has recently been in test mode with some financial firms that would potentially become users. One of those firms is reportedly United States retail brokerage TD Ameritrade, which announced that it invested in ErisX in October of last year. The platform reportedly aims to host spot crypto and crypto derivative trading later this year after obtaining regulatory approval.

According to a report released at the time, investing company DRW Holdings and high-frequency trader Virtu Financial also invested in the exchange. Moreover, both also reportedly agreed to be market makers for ErisX.

According to The Block, TD Ameritrade could soon offer crypto trading to 11 million retail clients. The Block claims that if TD Ameritrade links to ErisX, it would be among the first major brokers to offer cryptocurrency trading, following Robinhood. In a tweet published on April 23, ErisX declared that a limited number of participants are currently testing the platform.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, Twitter personality Cryptopolis, a quantitative analyst at StrongMarket, tweeted that he bought one bitcoin through an account on retail brokerage firm TD Ameritrade on Nasdaq. Although he later noted that the trade had not gone through, he still alleged that Nasdaq is quietly testing a new bitcoin-based asset that is available only through their Paper Trading platform. At the beginning of the current month, ErisX has appointed three veterans from Barclays, Youtube and the Chicago Board Options Exchange to fill executive roles at the company.

Article Produced By
Adrian Zmudzinski

Adrian is a newswriter based out of Pisa, Italy. He's passionate about cryptocurrency, digital rights, IT, tech and futurology and likes to think about the future in a positive way.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/report-united-states-based-crypto-exchange-erisx-is-about-to-launch-its-trading-platform

South Korea’s Largest Car Supplier Hyundai to Use DLT in Smartphone-EV Pairing Tool

      South Korea's Largest Car Supplier Hyundai to Use DLT in Smartphone-EV Pairing Tool

           

South Korea’s largest car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Group,

will use blockchain in its new tech for pairing electric vehicles (EVs) with smartphones. Sustainable mobility-focused news agency Green Car Congress reported on the development on April 22.

Hyundai reportedly announced development of smartphone-EV pairing based performance adjustment technology that allows users to customize primary functions via a smartphone application. In the claimed industry-first, Hyundai will reportedly implement blockchain technology to prevent security issues while users upload and share their custom settings on the server.

As such, the upcoming system is set to encrypt major performance parameters on a blockchain network by creating new data blocks in the process of uploading and sharing custom settings in order to prevent unauthorized manipulation of data. According to the report, drivers will be able to adjust seven performance features such as the maximum torque output of the motor, acceleration and deceleration abilities, regenerative braking capacity, maximum speed limit, responsiveness and energy use on climate control.

Earlier this year, Hyundai’s financial services subsidiary, Hyundai Commercial, partnered with American tech giant IBM to transform its business model with blockchain. The partnership is focused on deploying open source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to create a new supply chain financing ecosystem for the Hyundai Commercial network. Recently, IBM was granted a patent for a new system to manage data and interactions for self-driving vehicles.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/south-koreas-largest-car-supplier-hyundai-to-use-dlt-in-smartphone-ev-pairing-tool

CoinMarketCap Releases New Mobile App Version With User Accounts Price Alerts

CoinMarketCap Releases New Mobile App Version With User Accounts, Price Alerts

                                 

Crypto data tracker CoinMarketCap

has released a new version of its app for iOS and its first Android app today, April 16, with added features for price tracking and user accounts. According to the website, the mobile app will include candlestick charts, daily historical open-high-low-close chart data and the option for setting price alerts on all cryptocurrencies available on CoinMarketCap. In order to use the app, users will have to make a CoinMarketCap account and log in. The app will also allow users to follow news from various media outlets, as well as compare cryptocurrency prices with other cryptos. Last August, CoinMarketCap had launched a professional, paid API targeting developers and funds, which tracks crypto-based derivatives markets, with support for futures, options and over-the-counter exchanges for a monthly fee.

In March, the crypto data tracker announced that they would be releasing two crypto benchmark indices on the Nasdaq Global Index Data Service, Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters Eikon and Börse Stuttgart. Also this year, CoinMarketCap noted that it would be altering its listing metrics for cryptocurrency exchanges following research that claimed most of the exchange data was faked. The first iOS app from CoinMarketCap was launched last May in honor of the site’s fifth birthday. At the time, the site was ranked 175th in the world for most trafficked sites: the current ranking as of April 26 is 482th.

Article Produced By
Molly Jane Zuckerman

Molly Jane is a Russian Literature major from California with a background in writing. She joins Cointelegraph after working as a freelance journalist and blogger.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinmarketcap-releases-new-mobile-app-version-with-user-accounts-price-alerts

Kakao Affiliate Dunamu Launches Blockchain Service Platform

Kakao Affiliate Dunamu Launches Blockchain Service Platform

                                  

Dunamu, the fintech arm of South Korea’s largest Internet corporation Kakao,

is reportedly launching a blockchain service platform designed to help companies start businesses using blockchain. Korea’s JoongAng Daily reported the news on March 19. The platform, which is called Luniverse and supervised by blockchain technology research lab Lambda256, is geared to help IT startups develop blockchain-based services. The platform reportedly has a high level of security and an automated scaling function, that can adjust blockchain sizes in accordance with the amount of data stored on it.

To implement the service, Dunamu reportedly collaborated with blockchain companies that provided various blockchain apps and products following clients’ business fields. Park Jae-hyun, CEO and former research head of Lambda256 said that “in the past, a lot of companies built their own blockchain, but an alternative is outsourcing the establishment of a blockchain in the form of a service offered on cloud systems.” Yesterday, Kakao announced the integration of its cryptocurrency wallet in its messaging app KakaoTalk, which will purportedly enable more than 44 million South Korean KakaoTalk users to send peer-to-peer transactions using Kakao’s crypto-powered wallet.

Also in March, Cointelegraph reported that Kakao will repeat its initial coin offering after netting $90 million from investors. Klaytn, the blockchain platform which is the responsibility of spin-off firm Ground X, will now seek to raise another $90 million. In December 2018, Kakao had first announced that it was planning to raise around $300 million through Ground X to develop its own token. As reported in February, in the fourth quarter of 2018 Kakao’s operating expenses related to new businesses, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, was 65 billion won ($57.5 million), which reportedly led to a net loss for the whole period. Kakao’s consolidated operating income was 4.3 billion Korean won ($3.8 million).

Article Produced By
Ana Alexandre

Total change in her career took Anastasia into the world of analytics and business information as a researcher and translator in 2010. Some time later she got into FinTech, a dynamically developing segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology. Ana joined Cointelegraph in September 2017.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/silvergate-bank-onboarded-59-new-crypto-customers-in-q4-2018

Coinbase Pro Adds Support for Stellar Lumens

Coinbase Pro Adds Support for Stellar Lumens

Coinbase Pro, the professional offering of United States-based crypto exchange

and wallet service Coinbase, has announced support for Stellar Lumens (XLM) in a blog post on March 13. Per the post, Coinbase Pro will now accept deposits of XLM for around 12 hours before enabling full trading. Coinbase notes that after establishing sufficient supply of XLM, it will open trading pairs in U.S. dollars, euro and Bitcoin (BTC) in phases.

XLM trading will go through three stages before enabling full trading, including limit, market and stop orders. The stages involve “transfer-only,” “post-only,” and “limit-only.” The first two stages will allow users to transfer XLM to Coinbase Pro accounts and post limit orders, while the subsequent one will enable customers to match limit orders. XLM trading will be initially available for customers in Coinbase’s supported jurisdictions, expect the state of New York. Coinbase may add additional jurisdictions at a later time.

Last month, Coinbase Pro added support for Ripple (XRP), that joined already listed Ethereum Classic (ETC), Basic Attention Token (BAT) and privacy oriented altcoin Zcash (ZEC). In the past, these tokens were added to Coinbase Pro, before support for them was eventually extended to Coinbase.com and its apps for Android and iOS. The recent addition of XRP to Coinbase was long-awaited by the crypto community. The coin reacted promptly to the news about its listing on Coinbase Pro, turning out to be one of the biggest winners on that day.

However, a report by blockchain research firm Diar stated that XRP breaks one of Coinbase’s requirements to be listed on the platform. In its “Digital Asset Framework,” Coinbase stipulates that "the ownership stake [in a token] retained by the team is a minority stake," while, according to Diar, Ripple holds around 60 percent of the supply in escrow with a release schedule. At press time, XLM has gained around 3.94 percent on the day and is trading around $0.108, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Article Produced By
Ana Alexandre

Total change in her career took Anastasia into the world of analytics and business information as a researcher and translator in 2010. Some time later she got into FinTech, a dynamically developing segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology. Ana joined Cointelegraph in September 2017.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinbase-pro-adds-support-for-stellar-lumens

Read previous article at:
https://markethive.com/group/cryptocoin/blog/why-market-players-are-enthusiastic-about-investing-in-new-economy-expert-blog

How Brands Use Instagram Stories To Boost Business

How Brands Use Instagram Stories To Boost Business

The Instagram Stories feature rolled out in August 2016

as Instagram’s answer to Snapchat. It allows users to create or upload temporary publications which are viewable for 24 hours, before being archived. Instagram Stories is a powerful feature which has given brands a space to share with perceived authenticity, while the temporary element allows for a more varied, somewhat relaxed approach to content sharing. Furthermore, archived content can be recycled through sharing again, adding to a highlight, or through the relatively new ‘Memories’ option (similar to Facebook Memories).

Since its birth, Instagram Stories has been developed to roll out several features for content customisation. Brands now have the option to include music, hashtags, mentions, geotags, polls, questions, stickers, feature products, add external links and more. Much like the social media platforms themselves, brands are finding more and more inventive ways of keeping the attention of their customers. With so many ways to vary Instagram Stories content, how are brands using Instagram Stories to their advantage?

We have compiled some of the clever ways brands are using Instagram Stories, so that you can apply your favourites to your own brand’s social media strategy.

Market Research

Market research is the act of gathering information about consumer needs and preferences. Instagram Stories is a brilliant tool for gaining customer feedback, queries and opinions. Creating polls or posing questions gives your brand direct conversation with followers, allowing them to feel heard. Responding to polls and questions also gives your brand an opportunity to share expertise, build community and trust, humanise your brand, and gain information about product preferences and frequently asked questions. NYX Cosmetics took the opportunity of a photoshoot with Nam Vo to do an Instagram takeover. This is when an influencer or public figure is invited to ‘take the floor’ as it were and speak to your followers. They used the questions feature in Instagram Stories, which allowed them to feature their own products while answering viewer questions.

Humanise Your Brand

The expiration of Instagram Stories encourages brands to be a little less formal, which builds trust through authenticity. Using fun additions such as stickers, gifs, music and countdowns can develop a deeper level of connection between the brand and consumer. Brands also use Instagram Stories to give names, faces and character to otherwise ‘faceless’ corporate business profiles. Here is an example of Loreal Pro using Instagram Stories in an informal fashion. Choosing to document an event as it happens shows authenticity, while using mentions and hashtags across several Instagram Stories posts can boost reach and increase sharing opportunities.

Here are some of the ways you can humanise your brand:

  • Sharing footage of events as they occur
  • Sharing behind the scenes content
  • Storytelling
  • Interviewing colleagues

Promote Products

Instagram Stories allows brands to attach a direct link to an external web page. This makes it the perfect place to promote products or services and share new lines. If you have a business account with over 10,000 followers, or have created an advert through Facebook’s Ad Manager to be displayed on Instagram Stories, you can attach a link to your Instagram Stories post. This gives the viewer the to option to ‘Swipe Up’ which will open a link of your choice.

The clothing and lifestyle brand P&Co have cleverly crafted a cohesive product promotion strategy across their Instagram Stories and their main account content, tying it all together neatly with a competition.Notice how P&Co used a competition to grow their followers, reach and brand awareness. They also added the ‘Swipe Up’ link to drive traffic to their website, and were still able to shout about their product in a professional and effective way. In addition to this, P&Co tied everything together with a post on their page, which has their product featured. Using Instagram Stories in conjunction with feed posts is an effective way to increase the likelihood of sales and brand awareness.Another way to promote products in Instagram Stories is to create an advert. This should be done in Facebook Ads Manager and it allows you to reach a targeted audience.

Share Your Brand Through Usable Imagery

Creating interactive, shareable or useable content is an inventive way to connect with your followers, grow interest around your brand and stay in the consumer’s mind a lot longer. Some brands opt for creating fun, fillable questionnaires or ‘would you rather’ tick box templates for followers to add stickers to and share on their own Instagram Stories. With these being easy to copy, fun to complete, and usually featuring the Instagram handle of the brand, this approach encourages the creation of shareable user-generated content, which is an effective way to get a lot from a humble Stories post.

Another example of usable imagery is the creation of stunning phone wallpaper imagery. While some opt for adding branding to the images, others (like the example below) simply share beautiful imagery which the viewer will want to use as their phone wallpaper. Then every time the viewer uses their phone, they are reminded of the brand. Additionally, when the user gets complimented on their phone wallpaper, they have an opportunity to talk about and share the brand.

Announcements

Due to the expiration of Stories posts, this is the perfect place for brands to share announcements which will also expire, such as livestreams or 24 hour offers/deals. Nintendo gives us a great example of how Instagram Stories can provide a place to upload a poster, with all the relevant information, and a direct link to the web page viewers are being pointed to.

Give A Voice To Your Followers

Let’s face it?—?who doesn’t like to be acknowledged by a big company when they’re sharing a photo of a product they love from a brand they rate?! Instagram Stories is the perfect place to share user-generated content of your products, through encouraging the use of a hashtag, so that you can find shareable content easily and show some love to your Instagram community. This is exactly what McDonald’s did with their limited edition Shamrock Shake. Using the hashtag #ShamrockShakeSZN and reinforcing the hashtag use through every Stories post, McDonald’s developed a great string of user-generated content, while strengthening their community and growing excitement around the product.

Think about encouraging conversation through inviting viewers to actively engage.

As you can see through the examples above, brands regularly combine a few of these techniques, either in the same Stories post or across a string of Stories posts with the same message. This is an effective way to reinforce themes and awareness, while making use of the features available. We hope these examples have sparked your creativity with lots of interesting ways you can implement Instagram Stories into your social media marketing strategy. You can track your Instagram Stories, their reach rates, completion rates, full view rates and view the best times to post your Stories with Minter.io – the handy analytics tool that helps you get the most out of your brand on Instagram.

Article Produced By
Sarah Pike

Writer for Minter.io

https://medium.com/minter-io/how-brands-use-instagram-stories-to-boost-business-14ecc12c1877