Posted on September 11, 2016 by
Last month, Instagram rolled out Instagram Stories, an exciting new feature that allows users to share snippets of their day for just a 24-hour period. Sound familiar, by chance? Instagram Stories bears a striking resemblance to another popular platform that allows for disappearing media, Snapchat. Our team spent considerable time exploring the two platforms, experimenting with the networks and answering client questions on this format. Here are the top three questions we had and continue to receive about this brand new component of our favorite photo sharing network, answered for you.
What are Stories and how do they work?
A combination of photos and videos in a slideshow format, Instagram Stories tell a story of one’s choosing. Unlike a regular Instagram post, Stories don’t appear on one’s feed or allow for public likes or comments – only private messages. Available for only 24 hours and appearing in the bar at the top of a feed, Stories can be enhanced with text and drawing tools.
Stories can range from purely personal to business oriented. For example, one might share a Story with a behind-the-scenes look at one’s day, the unboxing of new products, the unveiling of a new project or the process for creating a new product or service. Additionally, a business could also use Stories to feature coupon codes, special offers or enticing incentives for clients or customers. Of course, the uses are almost limitless.
Ready to get going? Start with Instagram’s directions on how to share a photo or video to a story:
Need more details? Check out Instagram’s Help Center, which features a robust page on Stories – including the scoop on tips, who has seen a story, privacy settings and much more.
Are Instagram Stories better than Snapchat?
As with most things, the answer to the question of “which platform is better?” depends on your viewpoint. It’s true that Instagram Stories looks suspiciously similar to Snapchat. For long-standing Snapchat users with hoards of loyal followers, this new interloper likely seems a nuisance.
However, Snapchat has long suffered from usability problems. While millennials require no tutorial to get started, anyone over a certain age finds Snapchat confusing, complicated and counterintuitive. Even finding users on Snapchat proves difficult, let alone creating snaps and stories. In fact, we often wonder if Snapchat intentionally confuses users over 30! But, I digress.
Instagram and the new Stories feature seem much more intuitive than Snapchat. The ease of finding users and brands on Instagram starts as a great first step in usability, and the process for creating and posting content – including Stories – feels much less complex and scary. Given the user-friendliness of Stories, our team at Roaring Pajamas prefers it. Plus, many of our clients already use Instagram, so adding Stories seems an easy way to extend reach without adding yet another new platform or strategy. Who wouldn’t want to simplify things, right?
One differentiating feature of Instagram Stories recently emerged with suggestions on accounts to follow. While Snapchat doesn’t recommend accounts to check out, Instagram just started rolling out personalized suggestions for accounts to follow atop the Explore tab. The suggestions are based on Instagram’s secret-sauce algorithm. Given that this new feature showcases different users in the suggestions, those featured will likely gain followers.
Should I try Instagram Stories?
At Roaring Pajamas, we talk a great deal about the importance of infusing personality in a brand through social media. Instagram Stories allow for one to post just about anything – otherwise rarely-seen views of a day, special deals, sneak peeks and more. Such views help impart a sense of accessibility and – hopefully – affability that builds trust and loyalty. And, hopefully, new customers and clients.
Our only word of caution is this: remain true to your brand on Instagram Stories and all of your social media efforts. Never venture too off-the-cuff, rogue or negative so that you turn off your target audience, customer and clients. Always carefully balance personality with professionalism to achieve social media success.