Why Instagram's new Stories tool is good news for marketers

(c)Instagram

Snapchat is increasing in popularity. Its engagement and usage figures, especially among younger millennials, are through the roof - and it's been busy ramping up its marketing and advertising capabilities.

Typically, there are a few things larger organisations can do when faced with a threat from a smaller disruptor: ignore it completely, acquire them, or simply make their own version of the product. 

This is potentially why Facebook-owned Instagram's just launched it's own Stories feature, which rolls out to users over the coming weeks.

The similarities

Snapchat has had its own Stories feature as part of its app for some time now, where users can add a video clip or picture of limited length to their Snapchat Home screen. Users can add as many videos/pictures as they like, and can see each others' stories by tapping and holding them - they tend to last about a day before disappearing. 

Instagram Stories, according to a recent blog post, "lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile."

As with Snapchat Stories, the new feature allows Instagram users to share share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format. 

To be fair, there is a feeling with Instagram that 'overposting' or posting too frequently is inherently not the done thing to do. So Stories actually makes sense as an addition, especially from a marketing perspective. Having consumers voluntarily click on your (hopefully relevant, engaging) content to watch it is far more powerful than them rolling their eyes at your tenth brand-related ad or post that day.

As with Snapchat, Instagram Stories also allows you to overlay text and 'draw' on your story images and videos - as highlighted by the laser-eye-wielding feline below - but there's no mention of the Snapchat-famous filters just yet. 

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Stories will sit across the top of your Instagram feed. When people you follow post a story, their profile picture will appear highlighted by a colourful ring. To see who's viewed your story, swipe up - again, a handy tool for marketers. 

To view someone’s story, tap on their profile photo, then tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person’s story. If you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct - quite like Snapchat's direct messaging facility. And you can feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile, which is pretty handy.

Why it's good

There is absolutely no doubt that this feature will be vastly useful for the number of small businesses and larger brands who are advertising and marketing through Instagram - if used in the right way. And while it may be a very similar to a Snapchat feature, the positive spin is that it may teach you how to become more comfortable using that format - which now has uses across two very well-engaged platforms.

And like Stories on Snapchat, maybe Instagram will explore partnerships with brands. But, as the feature hasn't even rolled out fully yet, it's too early to tell.

What do you think of the new feature? Will you be using it?

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