3rd August 2016

Instagram Stories: What They Are and How to Use Them

Last night, Instagram announced Instagram Stories. A feature alarmingly similar to SnapChat stories, except it’s on Instagram…so that makes it different!

Instagram Stories

An Instagram Story is a series of temporary photos and videos that lasts 24 hours. Instagram has launched this in a bid to tap into the growing SnapChat style of interaction. The average number of Instagram posts has declined between 2013 and 2015, whereas Snapchat has seen over 10 billion views a day.

How Stories Work

Stories work in a similar style to SnapChat, the content (photos and videos) you share in your Instagram Story can’t be viewed after 24 hours of posting. Your stories won’t appear on your profile or in the main Instagram feed.

Stories are rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

Stories from people you follow appear in a bar at the top of your feed — and all Instagram accounts will be able to create, post and share stories. When there’s something new to see, a user’s profile photo will have a coloured ring around it.

To view someone’s story, just click on their profile photo, and their story will appear, showing all the stories they’ve posted in the last 24hrs, in chronological order from oldest to newest. You can’t like a story, or place a comment on it but if you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct.

Like on SnapChat, you can tap to move forward to the next story or swipe back to move to someone else’s story.

To access it (when you receive the update) either:

  • Launch the Stories camera using the new (+) button in the top left corner.
  • Use the shortcut – swipe right from the main Instagram feed

To post you can either upload a picture or video there and then or swipe down to post something you’ve already added.

You have access to the normal range of tools, text, emojis, filters, etc.

What this Means for Brands

By using Stories, Instagram is looking to offer brands opportunities for increased engagement and also safeguard its user base which is increasingly using SnapChat.

This is a new way for brands to post content in on Instagram. For example, posting about limited edition offers, products or services as the story disappears after 24 hours. You can set who has access to your story, so if there are certain users you want to hide it from, you can.

Brands also don’t have to worry as much about over posting as your stories only show for 24 hours. Brands can also track how many times their stories have been viewed – again Instagram taking a cue from SnapChat. Brands (Instagram users) can hide their stories from people who have already viewed them.  You can even choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile.

This also provides opportunities to post behind the scenes content at events, run takeovers or partnerships with influencers, communicate more on a 1:1 basis, responding to users’ stories and generating higher brand engagement, running live, timely content. It may also provide an opportunity to ‘beat’ Instagram’s Facebook style algorithm, helping your content to be viewed more…watch this space!

By Anna Wilson, Head of Digital