On August 2, Instagram announced that it will be releasing Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to take, edit, and share photos and videos that will expire after 24 hours. Rolling out over the next few weeks, Instagram Stories has caused controversy due to its striking similarity to another social media platform — Snapchat. But what does Instagram Stories mean for marketers and businesses?
Here, I’ll break down the information about Instagram Stories, the public’s response to the announcement, and what the experts are saying so far. Then, I’ll examine what all of this means for businesses.
What do I need to know about Instagram Stories?
Basically, Instagram Stories is a new feature on the platform that will allow users to share pictures and videos in a stream.
Here’s what the new feature has to offer:
- You can post unlimited photos and videos to your story.
- You can edit photos and videos with text and drawing tools.
- Any photos or videos posted to your story will disappear 24 hours after being posted.
- You can see stories by the people you follow in a bar at the top of your screen
- When viewing stories, you can go back and rewatch stories by tapping or skip stories by swiping.
- There will be no option to like or comment on stories directly.
- You can set your privacy settings so that no one sees your posts, or so that particular people can’t see your posts.
- You can “feature” photos or videos from your story by posting them on your main Instagram profile.
- Instagram has not announced functions similar to Snapchat’s geofilters or lenses.
- According to Mashable, you can only post past photos or videos that you have taken in the previous 24 hours. This is unlike Snapchat Memories, which allows you to use any photos or videos on your phone’s camera roll, no matter when they were taken.
The public reacts to Instagram Stories
Public reception of this announcement has been mixed, as evidenced by the comments on Instagram’s blog post about its Stories feature:
There have been a lot of angry responses to the announcement on Twitter, as many people appear to be outraged by Instagram “stealing” from Snapchat.
What do the experts think about Instagram Stories?
Most experts seem to be advocating a watch and wait stance for brands when it comes to Instagram Stories. The feature will be rolling out over the next few weeks, giving businesses time to learn about how to best use it for their brands, and to see if there will be a migration of users from Snapchat to Instagram.
Snapchat influencer Carlos Gil posted a video encouraging brands to A/B test both platforms, and see which one gets them better results.
— Carlos Gil (@CarlosGil83) August 2, 2016
Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff wrote an article stating that Instagram’s announcement of Instagram Stories is a declaration of war against Snapchat. This may mean that we should expect more of these types of feature adoptions in the future. Ulanoff also made a very pertinent point about the loyalty of Snapchat users, and how invested they are in using the platform, which is notoriously difficult to learn.
CEO of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, says it’s too early to tell what will happen with Instagram Stories.
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) August 2, 2016
Four questions every business is asking about Instagram Stories:
As the Instagram Stories announcement reaches everyone in the marketing world, a few key questions are surfacing.
1. What should my business do about Instagram Stories?
Vaynerchuk put it best: “wait and see.” Don’t make any decisions until you’ve had a chance to try out the feature and fully explore its capabilities and impact.
2. Should I leave Snapchat for Instagram Stories?
We won’t know how Instagram Stories will affect Snapchat audiences for awhile. As Ulanoff pointed out, Snapchatters have deeply embedded Snapchat into their lives through the amount of time they spend on the app and data usage, as well as learning how to use the platform. Keep an eye on your Snapchat Stories views and screenshot numbers once Instagram Stories has rolled out to monitor the impact. If your numbers go down significantly, it might be time to call it a day, depending on your resources. However, Snapchat has been making some rapid changes over the past several months, and who knows what new, attractive feature they will release next.
3. Should I be concerned about learning how to create content with Instagram Stories?
That is the great thing about the similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat — if you’ve already learned how to create great Snapchat content, many of the same principals will almost certainly apply to Instagram Stories. Check out these Snapchat best practices, and ideas for content to get the ball rolling!
4. How should I plan to allocate my team’s time to accommodate Instagram Stories?
The addition of Instagram Stories means your social media team will likely be spending more time on content for the platform. Particularly when the feature first rolls out, give your team a little more time to test different types of content. Remember, Instagram is the engagement winner for brands, so it’s probably worth your time to take advantage of this new feature.
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