If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve probably noticed a new feature: Instagram Stories.
While this may not seem like anything big, this insidious little feature is poised to take on one of the resident giants of social media: Snapchat. Touted by Joe Pulizzi as “Snapchat for older people,” Instagram Stories is a simple feature that gathers all of an Instagram user’s favorite moment into one, simple place.
The latest in social media platforms making a push for content concentration and accessibility, Instagram Stories is the biggest thing to hit social media in a few weeks.
So, are Instagram Stories going to usurp Snapchat and overtake the throne? Read on to learn more.
What is Instagram Stories?
From your Instagram dashboard, the new Instagram Stories feature is located at the top of the page.
Released on Aug. 2 of this year, Instagram Stories allows users to share a slideshow of their favorite moments from their entire day, instead of the ones a user wants to clean up and stick to their Instagram profile.
Each story is organized by the Instagram user’s profile photo and name. Simply click on a user you’re interested in, and you’ll be redirected to a moving slideshow of that Instagram user’s “story” for that day.
Sorted in reverse order, Instagram Stories showcases the newest posts from the people you follow on the Instagram platform at the head of the bar of stories. When a person posts to a story, the photos or videos uploaded will be available to followers for 24 hours before disappearing.
Why do Instagram Stories Matter?
Instagram has exploded for marketing purposes in recent years, and Instagram Stories is just one of the company’s most recent efforts to improve its offerings and make the platform more enjoyable and relevant to its users. In addition to the pure functionality aspect of Instagram Stories, it’s also clear that Instagram launched the feature in an attempt to compete with Snapchat Stories. While Snapchat has a reputation as being the preferred platform for teens and Tweens, Instagram’s story feature is designed to appeal to a different crowd – one that wants to use Instagram for marketing and brand development purposes, specifically.
How Marketers Are Using Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are a wonderful tool for all Instagram users, but they’re especially relevant for marketers. The perfect place to showcase a brand’s daily efforts, meetings, faces, and activities, Instagram Stories allow companies to connect with their fans in a more intimate and unique way than ever before.
Designed to encourage Instagram users to post content more frequently, Instagram Stories reward brands and marketers who post often by displaying their Stories more prominently in the story bar. This, in turn, means they feature more prominently for followers and can help a brand increase its views and subsequent conversions.
What’s more, Instagram Stories have also taken an important step toward solving content overload. Before the development of the Stories feature, brands who wanted to post 20 or 24 times each day risked saturating their followers’ image feeds, and alienating people as a result. Today, however, it’s easy for brands to concentrate the majority of their daily content into a Story and avoid overloading their fans.
My Experience with Instagram Stories
So – we’ve come to the Snapchat versus Instagram debate. Here’s my two cents: I’ve been on Snapchat for about two months, and haven’t seen nearly as much exposure on my snaps as I have on my Instagram stories — which I just started publishing this week.
Since I’ve started using Instagram Stories for my content, I’ve seen double the views. To be fair, this may be simply because my Instagram following is larger than my Snapchat following. While I’ve been on Instagram longer and have made more efforts to grow that audience, I’ve only been with Snapchat for less than two months and haven’t worked too hard to increase followers on that platform yet.
This is a screenshot of an Instagram story I shared, a short 5-compilation of 30-second bits on why solid team members are hard to find and what makes up a rare breed. In 24 hours it had more than 40 views. I only have 600 followers and an Instagram that’s four months old, so that’s not bad—and far better than my Snapchat views!
As it stands now, I want to use Instagram to share content that’s relevant to my company’s expertise: content marketing. I think Instagram Stories is the perfect platform to do that, and I can see Instagram Stories taking over before we know it. After all, many marketers have a larger Instagram following than they do Snapchat followings, and it makes sense that professionals would rather leverage the new features of their most powerful platform, first. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t one of the largest driving factors in Instagram Stories becoming a dominant social media force over the next few months.
The Future of Instagram Stories
As a marketer and entrepreneur, I’m predicting that Instagram Stories will go big. In addition to the fact that so many marketers have a large Instagram presence, the platform is just a little cleaner than Snapchat. While many marketers swear by Snapchat, I’ve found that most people regard Instagram as being a little less fraught.
When you add this to the fact that Instagram Stories makes it incredibly easy for marketers to leverage their existing Instagram followings, it becomes clear that Instagram is on to something really, really good with this one. Simple, integrated, clean, and immediate, Instagram Stories is the perfect way for marketers and social media influencers alike to deliver streamlined, quality content to followers without overloading the feed or driving people away. Because of this, I do think it will overtake Snapchat Stories in the near future.
Now, it’s just a matter of making the best possible use of it.
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster and an expert content marketer. She’s also the founder and CEO of Express Writers, a leading online content creation agency, with more than 60 content writers and strategists. Julia leads her team to serve hundreds of worldwide businesses with the highest-quality content for their online presence. Follow Julia’s blog.
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