Early this year, Instagram announced the launch of Instagram Stories. This new feature allows you to share photos and videos in a slideshow format that disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat users are probably thinking, “Well, what’s new?” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wouldn’t disagree with them. He gives the credit to Snapchat.
As a marketer, if you are worried about having to create additional content for Instagram Stories and aren’t sure what makes it different from Snapchat Stories, check out these tips.
How to create Instagram Stories
Simply click on the “+” icon in the broken circle and it will allow you to use your camera to take a picture or a video. Add emojis, write or draw on your photos or video and once ready, click “Add it to your story” at the bottom of the screen. Instagram Stories will not appear in your main feed or on your profile. You can also see who has seen your story and how many times your story has been viewed by simply swiping up on your story.
Instagram Stories appear at the top of the app's feed. This means that your followers will see them no matter what, without you having to build an audience every time you publish a story. It also allows brands to post more content without spamming people’s feeds. One of the best parts is that you don’t have to worry about what you posted keeping consistent (or curated) with your feed. All stories will eventually disappear after 24 hours.
Instagram Stories – The Contender or the Impersonator?
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom makes an interesting point when he gives credit to Snapchat. He isn’t bothered about who invented it first. He's stated, “This is about a format and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.” This is how Instagram Stories claim to be different from Snapchat Stories. What do these differences mean to you as a marketer and as a brand?
There are many similarities between Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Apart from the format, the stories disappearing after a day, using filters, emojis, and text on your photos or video, the ability to save individual stories, seeing who has viewed your stories, and so on; there are some differences as well.
Major differences include Instagram Stories appearing on the main feed, unlike Snapchat Stories, which are on a separate screen. Instagram Stories are also sorted by who you interact with most in contrast to Snapchat’s reverse chronological order. You also have the ability to block certain people from viewing your stories.
How Using Instagram Stories is Beneficial for You
What Instagram has done by introducing the stories feature is give its 500 million active users, including thousands of brands, a reason to leverage the exciting benefits of stories. Since brands already have a loyal following on Instagram, they can simply transition seamlessly to a new way of engagement instead of having to build an audience base from scratch on a different platform, like they would on Snapchat.
Although the two features are nearly the same, brands need to realize the difference in audiences each platform caters to. If Snapchat is for Gen Z, Instagram is more like “Snapchat for Generations X and Y.” So if you are a brand catering to adults, Instagram Stories offers you a great way to target them.
By making stories front and center of the app, unlike Snapchat where you have to migrate to a separate screen, Instagram is strengthening its existing relationship with its large user base and brands that use it for marketing.
Instagram was always known for its high quality, hi-res pictures that were aesthetically shot. With stories, it has provided an outlet for silly, everyday photos, or “behind the scenes” kind of shots, which in any case, will be forgotten after 24 hours. With stories, brands can use camera phone photos and shaky videos of the CEO’s “weekly motivation seminar,” a small office milestone or a low-key product launch b-roll.
Should You Incorporate Instagram Stories?
Stories are a great way to share everything and anything that you wouldn’t on your Instagram main feed – small, funny and enjoyable moments that reflect company culture or how much fun you have at work. Brands can give a peek behind the curtains using stories. While they can post a high quality photo from a studio or set shoot as their Instagram feed, they can create a goofy series of photos or a video of what the crew was doing at other times and share it as a story. The main photo might have a note that says “See more in Stories” where brands can now show the fun time the crew had during the shoot.
Stories offer a more personal mode of communication. It sort of embodies the true spirit of social media – to foster one to one interactions. Whereas your curated Instagram feed can look too perfect and a bit “artificial,” Stories brings back “the human side” to the platform and helps brands connect more personally with their followers. Instagram Stories allow brands to share real-life photos and videos that don’t look or feel like ads and still help bring fans closer to the brand to inculcate long term brand loyalty.
Brands can also use Stories as a “test lab” for testing new ideas – memes, hyperlapses, interviews in novel settings, etc. Once these ideas take shape, the can be polished and released to a larger audience in the main feed.
Is it really Instagram vs. Snapchat?
The debate here is all about Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories and NOT Instagram vs. Snapchat. Each platform offers something unique for a brand to engage with its followers. Brands will take time to appreciate the need for less stylized content in order to create authentic, believable stories. Instagram Stories are an awesome way to “pull back the curtains” and show your followers the “raw” side of the brand. With stories, brands do not have to worry about spamming their follower’s feeds with over-posting. How brands leverage the power of stories remains to be seen.