It hasn’t taken Snapchat long to rise the social ranks. Seriously, in just under five years, the brand has managed to amass 100 million daily active users, 60 percent of whom aren’t only viewing disappearing images and videos, but adding to the 9,000 snaps that are shared every second of every day. Shocking statistics, to say the least.
Because of Snapchat’s younger, more engaged audience, it’s no surprise that other social networks have followed a few of the channel’s more innovative perks, giving credence to the idiom, “Imitation is the finest form of flattery.”
The most recent social outlet to do it? That’s right—Instagram. Just this week, Instagram announced yet another game-changing update for fans and businesses alike—the addition of Instagram Stories. In short, Instagram Stories allows users to post a series of images or video clips that disappear after 24 hours. Similar to Snapchat, this can be used for business.
The Upside of Instagram Stories
As is the case with just about everything on the Internet, there’s a good and a bad side. Amongst other things, as far as digital marketers are concerned, there are a few benefits to the Instagram Stories addition that are worthy of being made mention:
- First and foremost, stories are given precedence on a users’ feed according to data-driven interest—not chronological order. While a negative for some, this practically guarantees that your brand’s most devoted fans will see your stories.
- If the above perk hasn’t convinced you to devote the majority of your business’ social time to Instagram, this positive just might do the trick—Instagram users don’t need to be following you to view your stories. This isn’t the case on Snapchat.
- Since Snapchat first made the publication of image- and video-driven stories possible back in the summer of 2014, it’s become a mainstay of Snapchat use for social marketers. Now that Instagram offers virtually the same service, due to Instagram’s wider audience reach, marketing efforts can be consolidated to focus more on one highly effective platform. You guessed it: Instagram.
The Downside of Instagram Stories
Here at Kickstagram, we’re always going to tell it like is. As such, there are a handful of story-specific features that aren’t yet as advanced, exciting or user-friendly as those on Snapchat. In due time, however, these are likely to improve, so no need to panic:
- Instagram Stories’ video editing features aren’t quite as sophisticated as those on Snapchat. Yes, there’s doodling and a host of ways to make your stories unique, but location- and holiday-themed filters, templates and stickers aren’t as numerous.
- Hoping to save your Instagram story directly to your phone after it’s been created? Unfortunately, that’s not yet possible. The story can be published directly to your Instagram feed, but beyond that, you’ll have trouble remembering what was captured.
- Lastly, and this is somewhat big when it comes to determining audience interest, there’s no way to know whether or not a user has taken a screenshot of your Instagram story. For the time being, produce high-quality content, just as you would for a normal Instagram post.
How to Use Instagram Stories
Adding even more fuel to the fire Snapchat fanatics refuse to let die down, the very process by which Instagram stories are crafted is strikingly similar to that of Snapchat’s. Struggling to wrap your head around all of this social madness? Don’t—the below steps will give you a quick walkthrough of what the process looks like:
- Step #1 – Sign into Instagram, and click on the upper, left-hand button (+), as seen below.
- Step #2 – Tap the circle button to take a photo. Or, hold the button to shoot a video.
- Step #3 – Using the keyboard below, add text, colors and emojis.
- Step #4 – Just like Snapchat, swipe right or left to look through different filter options.
- Step #5 – Hit the checkmark at the bottom (see above images), and you’re good to go.
Making the Most of Instagram Stories for Business
All of this is fine and dandy, but how do brands really stand to benefit from Instagram Stories? After all, Snapchat is a great marketing tool, but smaller, up-and-coming businesses have often seen the platform as a place strictly for the Fortune 500 companies of the world.
The good news? This is a problem Instagram has largely sidestepped, helping both booming brands and tiny Etsy shops build “brand fans,” drive traffic and make sales. Needless to say, with the addition of Instagram, the best of both worlds are now in one location. To take advantage of such a fortuitous happening, consider doing a few of the following:
- Intimate, Behind-the-Scenes Footage – For audiences to make an emotional connection with you’re company, they’ll need to see you as more of a family, and less of a money-sucking machine—harsh, but true. To combat this mentality, using Instagram Stories, present real, behind-the-scene footage of your business’ day-to-day occurrences.
- Company Takeovers – This is huge for Snapchat brands, so the same should apply on Instagram. Basically, one brand takes over another brand’s story production for a pre-determined period of time. Cross collaboration helps brands support one another, while also increasing audience interest. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
- One-On-One Interactions – Think about it—using Instagram Stories, your brand can now hold live Q&A sessions with your Instagram followers. Simply have people send in questions through Instagram Direct, and then answer them using Instagram Stories.
- Live Content – Is something awesome happening right now? Don’t snap a picture, thinking you’ll work it into your social strategy at a later date. Pull out your smartphone, and use Instagram Stories. Now, every great moment can be a live moment on Instagram.
With a massive user base, Instagram has worked for marketers from all kinds of industries. The same can’t be said for Snapchat, however. With the implementation of Instagram Stories, regardless of target audience, there’s much less of a need to consider Snapchat an effective marketing tool. Combine your efforts, giving Instagram the attention it deserves.
Though somewhat controversial, Instagram’s decision to pull a page from Snapchat’s playbook has strengthened its stock as the new king of social media marketing. Only time will tell, but thanks to Instagram Stories, expect brands to devote more time, effort and funding to promoting their products and services on Instagram—you heard it here, first.