In the battle for users, the main social media platforms are continuing to innovate and adopt new features.
This week, Instagram made a significant move in the introduction of Instagram Stories which is rolling out to Android and iOS users. The access the update, make sure you have the latest app on your device.
Looking at the top of my feed today I could immediately see a number of brands and organisations trying out Instagram Stories from publishers to B2B organisations, from retailers to food brands – you can see a small selection of stories in the image below – like Snapchat you can swipe through Instagram Stories.
Bonus Tip: Since initially writing this article and creating this tutorial I have added some bonus material – scroll to the bottom of the page to find tips for marketers who want to get the most out of Instagram Stories.
Like Snapchat Stories, your Instagram Story will disappear in 24 hours. The content does not sit on your Instagram profile, nor will it be found in the Instagram feed.
You will find Instagram stories from accounts you follow on Instagram at the top of your feed. Once you click to open one you can click through a specific story or swipe to the next story from another account.
To post your own Instagram Story you will you have to tap a new “+” icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen as you see in the image below.
For the accounts that have published a story on Instagram you will see a coloured circle around their avatar on their profile.
You can publish a photo or a video to your Instagram Story and will have the opportunity to also post it to your Instagram account.
There are different types of drawing tools that you can use, selecting from a specific palette of colours – in fact the tools are much easier and more fun to use than with Snapchat. You can also add text messages to your image or video which is good for including a call to action and add filters to your posts.
You can see in the example below how Top Shop the fashion retailer added some fun drawings to their post. Note also that you will see at the top of the post that there are short segments – each is an element of the story so it will give you an idea of how long the Instagram story will be. You can also see how many hours it has been since they posted.
When you publish a story you can make a decision on the privacy of the content in terms of who can see the Instagram Story and you can also decide who can message you back – see this in the post below and these features are covered in the video tutorial I created about how to get started creating Instagram Stories.
In addition you will be able to see who opens your story and the total number of views you get.
But what if you want to publish content to your Instagram Story that you have already taken?
You can upload photos or video content created within the last 24 hours from your smartphone camera roll. Just swipe downwards on the Stories camera, and you will see the latest content from your camera roll appear at the top of your screen which you can select from and add to your story.
How To Use Instagram Stories
You can learn more about Instagram Stories in their Help section here.
And if you want to see how you get started creating your first Instagram Story, you can watch this video tutorial.
As I mention in the video, Instagram Stories are a great way to share content during a day, for example if you are hosting or attending an event without you filling the Instagram feed with your content, however you probably will want to continue to be selective in the curation of content you share to your Instagram profile.
If you have questions about using Instagram as part of your visual content marketing you can schedule a private conversation with me here.
How do you plan to use Instagram Stories? It is certainly an interesting move on behalf of Instagram and you can be sure it’s an attempt to get us to spend more time on the platform.
I am not sure I will personally use Instagram Stories on a daily basis – at some stage we all need to make choices about where we spend our time on social networks to deliver our goals, and even looking at the number of stories I could see posted at the top of my feed, I like many, don’t have the time to consume all that content, no matter how good the story telling is!
Additional Thoughts For Marketers Considering Using Instagram Stories
Adage reported that Nike generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story that it posted on Tuesday, the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike’s best video got 66,000 views, according to Nike
They comment on why Nike seems to have been more successful with their first story on Instagram versus Snapchat that:
There are no heart icons for people to express their approval on Snapchat, and it’s harder to follow accounts because users have to know exact names to find them. Instagram makes searching easier, and its lets brands buy ads that directly link to their accounts, where people can follow them.
In addition, Instagram also offers compliance for alcohol brands for example Ketel One and Buchanan’s whisky are using Instagram Stories as the platform allows them to restrict viewing to people older than 21, the legal drinking age in the US – this feature is not available on Snapchat for free unless the brand pays for an ad targeted to people 21 and older.
In an interesting article on TechCrunch they comment that Instagram has introduced stories due to the fact that ‘lifecasting’ is becoming a mainstream behaviour and that people do not just take individual photos and teens (I have found some brands too) often delete photos if they don’t get enough ‘Likes’ in the first few minutes. Therefore Instagram was losing out to Snapchat.
But perhaps we get more clues as to why Instagram introduced Stories from this article on AdWeek from the end of June where they comment:
Instagram’s long-awaited algorithm has finally started rolling out, and food influencers and sites that built their brands on the Facebook-owned app are already feeling the squeeze and moving to Snapchat.
They go on and report how a number of food brands have begun to integrate content marketing to Snapchat – I have seen lots of food brands do everything from product launches to recipe tips on Snapchat, when previously these organisations would have used Instagram and Pinterest.
And on the topic of did Instagram copy Snapchat with the introduction of Stories, the publication reports that Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom agreed they had – some of the comments he made were that:
Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.
Innovation happens in the Valley, and people invent formats, and that’s great. And then what you see is those formats proliferate. And I think what you see is that every company looks around and adopts the best of the best formats or state-of-the-art technology.
Snapchat adopted face filters that existed elsewhere first, right? But you can say ‘what’s really awesome about a format? And does it apply to our network?’
How might you use Instagram Stories in your business?
Five Bonus Tips For Instagram Stories For Your Business
Here are five ideas that you could put to use in your business:
- use Instagram Stories as a way to be top of mind with your Instagram followers as they are featured at the top of the news feed – but this will mean that you need to post to your story regularly throughout the day as with Snapchat as they probably will not scroll through to see all the stories that have been posted
- use Instagram Stories when at an event to shaow what happens on the lead up to an event and after an event
- repurpose key parts of your story to accompany other social media content from your blog posts to including them in your video content – but take care not to just repeat content across your different channels for example posting the same content to Snapchat and Instagram as it is likely that you will have different followers on each platform
- promote how you will be using your Instagram Story on your other media channels to encourage people to follow you
- invite others to take over your Instagram story for the day – just as you may have Snapchat and YouTube take overs you could do the same with Instagram Stories. Many brands already do this with their Instagram accounts.
Do let me know how you put Instagram Stories to work in your business.