What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories

Polly Michelle CunananSocial MediaLeave a Comment

what you need to know about instagram stories

On August 2, Instagram Stories was launched, sending social media in a titter.

For one, the new feature which allows for the sharing of photos and videos in a user’s timeline for 24 hours, seemed like a rip-off of the similarly named Snapchat Stories, with a few basic differences. In fact, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom acknowledged this and said that “they (Snapchat) deserve all the credit.”1

Instagram’s spin on Snapchat “design”

It’s looking like the move has no legal implication as tech companies are quite adept in copying each other’s features, think Facebook’s Memories which functions like Timehop, Twitter’s feed which came from Facebook and so on.

In a report on Foxnews.com, Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates said that “you could argue that Snapchat didn’t really have much intellectual property in the first place. It was more of a design idea: create a means to send photos with a timer on them.”2

Meanwhile, Systrom emphasized in a justification of their move that “this is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your spin on it.”3

Indeed, users are raving about Instagram Stories. Tech writer Owen Williams noted that it is more “useful to the masses, with a number of improvements that make it far more enjoyable to use.”4

instagram stories social media marketing

True, Instagram lacks Snapchat’s geofilters and facial mapping that are very popular with teens but it is attracting a mature audience with the ease of using it. There are less buttons, much cleaner design and feels familiar to more users as compared to Snapchat.

What’s more, Williams described Instagram’s 500 million5 strong active users community as the “killer feature”6 that Snapchat lacks.

Instagram Stories tagged as more brand-friendly

Instagram’s bigger user base is the clincher for a lot of brands. Nike, for example, has noted that it got 800,000 views on its Instagram Story posted on the first day that the feature became available, as compared to 66,000 views on its most popular Snapchat Story.7

For brands like Nike which already has an active audience base on Instagram, the transition to its Stories feature is easier. The audience is already there so there’s no need to create a new channel on a different platform like Snapchat.

At the same time, it is also easier to be found on Instagram because of the hashtags, geotags and discover function. Wired pointed out that the key problem with Snapchat is that “it’s really hard to find new things.”8

This means that users need to promote their Snapchat content on other channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to drive views.

using instgram stories for small business

While Instagram does not yet have an advertising model for its Stories, it is very likely to follow soon. Nick Sheingold, associate director of strategy at Laundry Service, a social media agency, said that “Instagram is really brand friendly, so that’s a huge opportunity.” Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships at Vayner Media, for his part, noted that “Instagram is a follower platform where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform. Snapchat hasn’t encouraged brands to build up huge followings.”9

New direction for social media?

Perhaps the most radical aspect brought on by the introduction of the Instagram Stories feature is the injection of raw images and videos in its otherwise curated world.

Instagram built its following on the sharing of perfectly composed photos enhanced by its varied editing tools. In fact, it has been positioned as a venue for sharing amazing, inspiring, beautiful photos. While the very first photo posted on Instagram is a not-so-perfect shot of a dog and a foot, posting on the portal seems to give the user the pressure of always striving for a picture-perfect shot.

The addition of Instagram Stories takes off that pressure. With Stories lasting only 24 hours, users now have the capacity to post unpolished, goofy photos or videos. The lack of a public feedback system also helps in easing the pressure.

This new direction of Instagram is actually a sort of compliment to what Snapchat has started and it is possible that this will likewise be embraced by other social media platforms. It is also interesting to note how people, brands and organizations will be using this feature in the next few weeks and months.

To start with, three big publishers have already started experimenting with the new feature.

instagram stories brand marketing

Patrick Witty, National Geographic deputy director of photography shared his excitement on using Instagram Stories. “One of the interesting things about [Instagram] Stories as well is that photographers are able to tell stories beyond just one picture. It gets deeper and behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a National Geographic photographer.”10

For New York Times’ social media editor Cynthia Collins, “We think that there will be a slightly different way that our stories will be presented across Snapchat and Instagram. Instagram will be mostly our Pulitzer-winning photographers and videographers. Snapchat, we turn that over to reporters in the field. It’s a bit looser.”11

For Colin Orcutt of Sports Illustrated (SI) which used both Snapchat and Instagram for their coverage of the Rio Olympics, “Our plan became using Snapchat for a more raw on the ground feel, and looking at what our SI reporters or people are seeing or doing. Because you can upload photos from the last 24 hours on [Instagram] Stories we thought it would be a great chance to give a daily scrapbook of the photos that we’re capturing.”12

Of course, it’s still the early stages. Instagram Stories has been launched just more than a week ago. How it will be used and defined will have to be determined as people and organizations take advantage of the feature for their own needs and purposes.

Have you been using Instagram Stories to market your ethical and sustainable brand? What do you think of it? Would love to know so please leave a comment below.

Show 12 footnotes

  1.  Constine, Josh. “Instagram CEO on Stories: Snapchat deserves all the credit.” https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/02/silicon-copy/. 2 August 2016.
  2.  Crothers, Brooke. “With ‘Stories,’ Instagram mimics Snapchat, and does it better.” http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/08/04/with-stories-instagram-mimics-snapchat-and-does-it-better.html. 4 August 2016.
  3.  Constine, Josh. “Instagram CEO on Stories: Snapchat deserves all the credit.” https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/02/silicon-copy/. 2 August 2016.
  4. Williams, Owen. “Everyone says Instagram Stories copied Snapchat – but it’s got a killer feature.” http://thenextweb.com/opinion/2016/08/03/everyone-says-instagram-stories-copied-snapchat-but-its-got-a-killer-feature/#gref. 3 August 2016.
  5.  The Statistics Portal. “Number of monthly active Instagram users from January 2013 to June 2016 (in millions).” http://www.statista.com/statistics/253577/number-of-monthly-active-instagram-users/
  6.  Williams, Owen. “Everyone says Instagram Stories copied Snapchat – but it’s got a killer feature.” http://thenextweb.com/opinion/2016/08/03/everyone-says-instagram-stories-copied-snapchat-but-its-got-a-killer-feature/#gref. 3 August 2016.
  7.  D’Onfro, Jillian. “Why Snapchat should be very worried about Facebook’s latest move.” http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram-vs-snapchat-stories-2016-8. 6 August 2016.
  8.  Hempel, Jessi. “Snapchat’s missing out on millions because it sucks to find stuff on its app.” http://www.wired.com/2016/01/snapchats-missing-out-on-millions-because-stuff-is-too-hard-to-find/. 16 January 2016.
  9.  Sloane, Garett. ”Nike and Others Dive Into Instagram Stories: Why Marketers Already Like It Better Than Snapchat.” http://adage.com/article/digital/instagram-stories-appeal-snapchat-brands/305317/. 3 August 2016.
  10.  Washington-Harmon, Taylyn. “How 3 publishers are using Instagram stories for visually compelling storytelling.” http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/08/how-3-publishers-are-using-instagram-stories-for-visually-compelling-storytelling/. 11 August 2016.
  11.  Ibid.
  12.  Ibid.

Polly Michelle Cunanan

Contributor at The Social Copywriter
Polly Michelle Cunanan is a results-driven media and communication expert with over 15 years of experience and proven track record in working with the Philippine Government and donor agencies such as the USAID, World Bank, UN-FAO, ADB, European Union (EU) and media. Political communication, messaging and campaigns are among her expertise. She spearheaded the communication program on the Bangsamoro peace process which led to a conducive environment for the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. She is a graduate of BA Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines and has completed the academic requirements for MA Communication Research from the same university. She is an incoming UK Chevening scholar set to undertake MA Political Communication at Cardiff University.
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