The New Instagram Stories Feature and What It Means For Your Brand

by | Aug 2, 2016 | Customer Engagement, Instagram, Social Media, Social Media Marketing

Instagram just announced the launch of Instagram Stories, a new format of photo and video sharing in which content disappears after 24 hours.

Does this sound familiar? Well, it should, given that this feature bears a lot of resemblance to Snapchat–the trailblazer in disappearing content–and its Story function. Even The New York Times is noting the similarities, and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom isn’t disagreeing. Earlier today, he told Techcrunch that Snapchat “deserve[s] all the credit.”

That said, let’s leave aside discussions of authorship and innovations and get back to basics.

How do Instagram Stories work?

Instagram Stories appear at the top of users’ feeds. Instagrammers can tap icons to see photos and videos that’ve been shared within the past 24 hours by users they follow.

Users sharing Instagram Stories content can use emoji stickers or draw on their images. Videos are currently limited to 10 seconds, which is a curious move considering that Instagram’s pattern as of late has been to lengthen video times for both ads and regular content.

The left image shows how Instagram Stories now appear in users' feeds. The center and right images demonstrate how you can edit your photos.

The left image shows how Instagram Stories now appear in users’ feeds. The center and right images demonstrate how you can edit your photos.


Instagram Stories come with enhanced privacy settings for users. Instagrammers can hide their stories from anyone, even followers. They can also highlight parts of their stories by posting them on their profiles.

instagram stories 2

Users can see who’s viewed their photos and videos.


What do Instagram Stories mean for brands?

As of now, Instagram hasn’t commented on the possibilities that Stories hold for marketers. That doesn’t mean they’re nonexistent, though, as Stories are yet another avenue to connect with your audience. While their popularity is yet to be determined, marketers are in luck when it comes to tackling this new medium.

Why? Well, if you’re successful on Snapchat, you have a very good foundation for Instagram Stories. While you’ll need to learn how your Instagram audience differs from your Snapchat audience, you can look to your current Snapchat strategy to inform your work.

If your business has a strong Instagram following but hasn’t done as well on Snapchat–or hasn’t tried it–this is an exciting opportunity to discover more about your audience. You’ll learn what works (and what doesn’t) for your followers, giving you more insight into your other marketing efforts.

Here are some content ideas to try:

  • Behind the scenes content
  • Teasers of new products or campaigns
  • Live content from events
  • Individualized feedback to specific users

Beyond this, Instagram Stories could be marketers’ chance to beat Instagram’s relatively new, controversial algorithm. It’s unclear if Stories will be displayed in chronological order or in accordance with Instagram’s relatively new, Facebook-like algorithm. Either way, Stories give you another chance to get your followers’ attention.

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