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Point Of View

Instagram Stories

Joshua WIlliams

Background

Last week Instagram introduced Stories, allowing users to share multiple photos and videos together in a slideshow format with their followers. Clearly taking inspiration from others, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said that Snapchat “deserve all the credit” for this montage style.

Details and Implications

The Stories feature is integrated directly into user’s newsfeeds, with the stories bar appearing at the top and users can swipe through Stories from people and brands they follow. Instagram has ordered Stories algorithmically using both Instagram and Facebook data to decide whose content users are most likely to interact with. This differs from Snapchat, where stories are ordered in chronological order, meaning the most recent post is the first one you see. The other way to view Stories is by going to a user’s profile and tapping on their profile image – Instagram indicates there is a story available by surrounding the profile picture with a coloured ring.

One of Instagram’s ace cards over Snapchat is the open network it has developed. It’s easier to find, follow and connect with people on the platform. This means the new feature is immediately open to a bigger network; 300 million daily users on Instagram, compared to Snapchat’s 150 million.

As with Snapchat, Instagram users have the option to use a variety of creative filters, text and emojis. Snapchat still has the edge however with the inclusion of its Lenses (which you can use in the App to augment people’s faces), but with Facebook recently buying MSQRD (a company that specialises in augmented reality) and the testing of Selfie Filters on the Facebook platform, it is likely only a matter of time until Instagram rolls out a Lenses-type offering too.

As for Stories, Nike generated 800k views in 24 hours with an Instagram Story the day the feature launched. On the same day on Snapchat, Nike’s best video saw only 66k views. General Electric, Mountain Dew and E! have all also tested the new format this week, as have alcohol brands such as Buchanan’s Whisky, utilizing the ability to restrict the audience to a given age range. Snapchat offers age restriction too, but only on ads.

Instagram hasn’t rolled out an ad solution for Stories yet, but when it does advertisers will likely have access to the wider Facebook network, meaning richer, cross-platform targeting.

Summary

Along with Facebook’s new Selfie Filters, Twitter Moments and Stickers, this is another indication of the big social players moving towards more fluid storytelling.

Instagram seems to have nailed the first version of the Stories feature with a well thought out UX that integrates smoothly with its users. As the offering develops, potentially covering more Snapchat features and launching ads, it will be interesting to see how brands and users react. For now, we recommend brands experiment with this new feature to find out what type of Stories work for their audience.