Social Media Update: The Scoop on Instagram Stories

blog-posting-guideEarlier this year, Instagram introduced its latest feature: Instagram Stories. The move added storytelling to the massive photo-sharing platform’s capabilities—allowing users to share moments throughout their day by creating visual narratives out of photos, videos, and text. Stories are posted to a user’s account for 24 hours, after which they disappear.

The basic concept was widely recognized as an imitation of the Stories feature within the Snapchat app, which has dominated social media use among Millennials and Generation Z since its debut. In fact, Instagram cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom directly addressed the idea that his company did in fact capitalize on the innovation that Snapchat brought to social storytelling, saying in an interview with The Verge, “Just like when Facebook invented the [News] Feed, and every social product was like, ‘That’s an innovation, how do we adapt that to our network?’ You’re going to see stories pop up in other networks over time, because it’s one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order.”

Insta Stories vs. Snapchat Stories

But Instagram Stories does differ from Snapchat in several key ways, and those distinctions are important for brands looking to reach audiences through social media. Here we quickly break down the basics of how Instagram Stories could potentially be a smart addition to your content marketing mix.

  1. Instagram has a much bigger reach. While Snapchat is the hot up-and-comer, its global footprint is nowhere near as big as Instagram’s. According to the Verge, more than 300 million users log in to Instagram every day.
  2. Instagram has a personalized Explore feature. At the end of August, Instagram announced that it would start rolling out recommended Stories at the top of the app’s existing Explore tab. These suggestions will be based on a user’s Instagram activity, including whom they follow and the topics they’re interested in. The algorithm-based personalization feature makes it easier for users to discover to accounts to follow and content of interest—a critical tool for marketers looking to make connections.
  3. The Instagram interface is more user-friendly. One of the reasons Instagram continues to enjoy such widespread adoption is its intuitive, simple interface. This makes it accessible to a broad segment of the population, which is important for brands looking to reach age groups other than the young.
  4. Instagram is better suited to brands. On the whole, Instagram is more welcoming to brands, with searchability and other tools that encourage companies to build followings. Plus, when it comes down to basic concepts, and how users interact within each app, Instagram is a follower-based platform while Snapchat is a platform for messaging and private jokes among friends.

If the statistics about Snapchat user engagement can be, to some extent, replicated among Instagram users following the introduction of Stories, it’s a powerful argument for brands and marketers to get involved: In May 2016, Snapchat reported that its worldwide daily active users (which amount to roughly 100 million) spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes a day on Snapchat. But the truly remarkable figure is that 60 percent of those who use it every day are not just voyeurs; they are actively engaging with the app—chatting with friends and creating new content.

At The Found Gen, we base much of our content marketing strategy around the power of storytelling—we believe it’s that essential to modern communication and decision making. And all signs point to a collective need for ever-increasing instantaneity and personalization in our storytelling delivery and consumption, both qualities that Instagram Stories delivers.

As Social Media Week so nicely posited: “Now that Instagram will allow their users to create content in a more fun, easy, and recognizable way, it means that Instagram, as a marketing platform, immediately becomes a more important part of your overall social media strategy.”