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Power Digital Marketing Blog

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    Zellie Friedman
    by Zellie Friedman |

    What Are Instagram Stories?

    Recently Instagram took the leap from a social sharing app to one with broadcasting and real time streaming abilities, and it paid off! Now, in addition to sharing photos to your Instagram feed, users can also stream what’s happening in that moment. And like Snapchat, the videos and photos shared on Instagram stories can only be viewed within 24 hours of them being posted.

    But really, what’s the benefit of an Instagram story over a traditional post? For starters, you no longer have to fill your friends feed with 20 different versions of the breakfast you ate this morning. Instead, Instagram stories allow you to update your friends about what you are doing in a slideshow from.

    Whether they choose to view it or not is up to them, and at the end of the 24 hours the photos disappear. This enables you to update your friends daily without showing them hours of video and pictures from the past. Another factor that sets aside Instagram stories from other forms of social media is that stories can be live or previously taken photos, as long as they were taken within the last 24 hours.

    Pro Tip: Want to post a photo to your story that is more than 24 hours old? Simply take a screenshot of the photo you want to post and it will reappear as an option to upload!

    Another notable feature of Instagram stories is the new sticker tool. While this feature allows you to embellish your stories with relatable stickers and phrases, it also allows you to tag locations, friends, and hashtags throughout your story. These tags are a great way to personalize your images in a story and make sure they’re seen by those most interested! To add a stick, location, or tag to your story, all you need to do is slide up from the bottom of your phone to view all options available!

    Compared to Snapchat

    Though Instagram and Snapchat share many similarities, Instagram’s newer platform and updated features are something to take note of when comparing the two.

    To make it easy we’ve outlined some of the most noteworthy similarities and differences for you in a simple list!

    Similarities Between Instagram & Snapchat Stories

    The Platforms are Very Similar: Both Instagram’s and Snapchat’s platforms are similar, as is their ability to share pictures within seconds. Both platforms are designed to make it as easy as snapping a picture and sending it to your story. Another similarity is both platforms allow this quick content to be shared with your entire follow (i.e. “posting to your story) or to just the friends of your choice. This means, if you maybe don’t want that breakfast we referred to earlier shared to your boss, you can select just your friends.

    They Have Fun Filters: One of Snapchat’s greatest successes was the addition of live filters, which you can apply in real time. When Instagram stories debuted they were quick to hop on the filter bandwagon and even came out with some interactive ones of their own. Aside from filters, both platforms offer stickers and location tags that can be applied to your photos once taken. Simply swipe left or right to apply various filters to your Instagram story post.

    Related: Confessions From Top Industry Experts - Do Instagram & Snapchat Actually Convert?

    There’s a 24 Hour Photo Policy: Much like Snapchat, when sharing photos to Instagram stories you’re able to post each photo publicly for 24 hours. After 24 hours have passed, your story will no longer be available for your following to view. If you have a business Instagram, you can still view your past stories and their results, but none of your followers will be able to view that data.

    Direct Messaging Capabilities: These platforms, also have messaging capabilities. By sending a picture to a specific person, they’ll receive a message in their inbox which they can directly reply to. Plus, unlike Snapchat, instead of being able to view the picture once, Instagram allows the recipient to view to story as many times as they want within a 24 hour period. With direct messaging users are also able to reply directly to a photo shared in your story, which will then create a separate chat in which you can talk in privacy.

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    Differences Between Instagram & Snapchat Stories

    Even though Snapchat has been around for longer, Instagram is seeing a huge increase in users eager to try their new story feature. These main differences are what’s helping set Instagram apart and making it the desired choice for both individuals and brands.

    Ease of Finding What You’re Interested In: Social media is all about sharing and staying up to date with your friend's lives. Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find someone by username, location, or even hashtag. Plus if you just feel like browsing their explore feature is a great way to discover new and relatable accounts. Location tags, name tags, and hashtags can also be used to figure out what's going on around you and keep up with the news. While Snapchat does have a discover page, it makes it almost impossible for a user to be discovered organically.

    Related: Which Social Platforms Should My Brand Be On?

    Tagging People in Stories: Tagging is huge for social credibility and influencing. Snapchat has left out this feature altogether. Through Instagram stories, users can easily tag people and link to their page, website, blog, and more! This feature is beneficial to brands and influencers working together to create recognition for them both.

    Bigger Audience Potential: Because of linking, location tagging, and Instagram's search features. Instagram makes it much easier to develop a following of those who share the same interest as you. This feature is great for brands making it easy to use Instagram as a marketing platform to reach people organically.

    Better Quality & More Easily Curated: The downfall to Snapchat is that everything uploaded in the app must be shot in the app, and this is definitely not that case with Instagram stories. Instagram stories allow users to shoot videos and photos in the app, as well as upload media from your camera roll. Not only does this provide more options, but it also benefits those curating customized content.

    How to Make an Instagram Story

    Okay, we get it. Instagram stories are in, and they’re taking over! But how exactly do you create one? Instagram prides itself in its easy user interface and makes it easy for both professional photographers and amateurs to use.

    Just follow these 5 simple steps to create an Instagram story that people won’t be able to wait to see!=

    1. Tap on the camera icon in the top left corner of your screen, or simply swipe left in your feed. You can also begin a story by swiping right on the main screen.
    1. Now, you can either tap the circle button at the bottom of the screen to take a live photo or picture or slide the screen up to post any of the photos/videos you’ve taken in the last 24 hours.
    1. Once you choose your photo/video you can then customize your photo with text, personal drawings, stickers and multiple different filters.
    1. Hit the “next” button to share your photo to your story which all of your followers can view, or select a few friends to directly message the photo to.
    1. Once sent, to see what you posted you can visit your profile on Instagram and click on your profile picture in the top left-hand corner. From here you can click on the names at the bottom of your screen and see the amount of views, who viewed your story, and share your story as a post on your Instagram feed if you’d like.  

    How can brands use Instagram stories?

    Instagram stories offer a unique opportunity for brands to connect with their audience through a more personal approach. Unique CTA’s that speak to users can be crafted allowing viewers to swipe up to visit their website, product page, video, or any other desired landing page.

    Related: How Can Instagram Stories Benefit Your Brand?

    This function is especially useful for brands offering a limited time promotion, offer, or give away as it allows them to spread the word quickly to those who care enough about your brand to follow it. However, not all users have access to these features. In order to use some of these features brands must be listed under a business account and have over 10,000 followers.

    Track Influencers & partnership traffic to your site

    Instagram makes it easy to rank influencers. Not only can you see how many followers they have but through their posts and stories you're also able to keep track of their website clicks, views, likes, reach, engagement and so on. By providing a custom URL with a UTM to influencers you collaborate, and asking them to post that URL on their story you’re able to track the traffic they send to your site. And use tools like google analytics to determine the ROT.

    Make sure your followers see your content

    With Instagram’s new algorithm changes, it’s almost impossible to ensure that all your users will see the content posted in your feed every time. Because the latest Instagram algorithm shows post based on an accounts engagement rate rather than time published, brands have seen a steady drop in engagement rate. However, stories offer a way to connect with your audience immediately as they are still shown in a timely manner, and played right after one another. Thus making it a great way to get your content seen and draw more users to your actual feed.

    Remain Authentic

    Many times there is a brand disconnect with the products shown on a page. While it might look beautiful or seem practical, does it really work or look that great in real life? Through the use of stories, brands are able to give their followers a raw and unedited look at products that will resonate with the target audience. This authenticity is a great way to boost brand credibility and compel your audience to purchase without coming off too sales-like.

    By using Instagram stories regularly, brands are able to reach their target market in an authentic manner, allowing consumers to align themselves with the brand's ideals and values. Have you used the Instagram Story feature for your personal account or your brand?

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