What We Learned in Our First 48 Hours on Instagram Stories

(Source: Digital Trends)

By this point, it’s likely you’ve heard about Instagram’s copy of Snapchat, called Instagram Stories. Within the last 48 hours, I’ve seen a lot of thoughts from a variety of internet friends — marketers and non-marketers alike — including Mikhail, 7twelve Marketing’s fearless leader.

While we typically agree on social media tactics, including Instagram Stories, he’s very much a Snapchat fan whereas I never fully embraced it. This led to a great conversation about the pros and cons of each and how it can affect social marketing.

Since the update, I’ve seen a variety of uses for Stories:

  • Friends in radio showing glimpses behind-the-scenes in the studio.
  • Mikhail is promoting Year One and complaining about the lack of filters.
  • Bloggers are asking if they have to post twice.
  • Rogue is promoting products.
  • Other friends are declaring their love for Snapchat.
  • The Tonight Show is sharing their guests. (Chad Smith with The Roots!)

tl;dr: It may never take Snapchat’s place, but Stories keeps users on the platform longer and “fixes” their focus on quality images above spontaneity. Instead of grumbling about it or wondering why it’s there, we need to embrace it and find creative ways to use it.

Instagram Stories’ Basic Features

One of my favorite things about Stories is that they’ve placed it at the top of the home screen, making it both accessible and more likely we’ll use it. Quickly add your story by tapping the upper lefthand side of the screen, record, edit, then tap the checkmark to share.


Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories

Since this comparison is what we’re all wondering about, let’s break it down.

The messaging isn’t as robust as it is on Snapchat: But since Instagram wasn’t originally built as a messaging app, that isn’t a deal breaker for me. The highlighter and “glow pen” features give you the chance to doodle, and there’s the chance to add text and emojis.

But yes, no dog filters. (For me that’s a selling point, but I digress.)

You can see views on your own stories: This is great from a marketing perspective. I can see how views may vary between different topics/slices of life I share, and craft my content accordingly.

Pro tip: You can see who views your stories. I’m giving you full warning before you go into creeper mode. You’ve been warned.

The UX is painless and spot on: Snapchat has a lot of great features, but I’ve never viewed it as having particularly great UX.

Sharing my first story on Instagram, however, was quick and I didn’t need to stumble around the app. I’m a minimalist through and through, though, and prefer things simple and easy to use.

You can view stories more than once: Want to check out a friend’s story again? On Instagram you can. This can be helpful for brands sharing tips and tricks or other content that fans may want to reference back to, within the 24 hours. For those using it in the same way as Snapchat, this may not be a huge bonus.

There’s no screenshot notification: On Snapchat, you’re notified when someone takes a screenshot of your snap, but it looks like that’s not a feature on Stories. That being said, nothing on social media is truly private, so you should always act like someone other than the intended recipient will see. Let’s be smart, guys.

The Social Mindset of Instagram Stories

There’s a social pressure on Instagram to post great content and to use just the right hashtags to ensure your photos are seen. Likes and comments rule and there’s a higher emphasis on quality photography.

Snapchat, however, favors action over curation. It’s gritty, behind-the-scenes action instead of the best shot out of 20.

Using Instagram Stories means you can post more often without disrupting your carefully crafted feed with random images. There’s a chance for spontaneity in an otherwise curated world that Instagram has created.

Snapchat favors gritty action over perfect curation while Instagram is focused on making quality photography accessible.

A Marketer’s Thoughts On Instagram Stories

I’m finding myself more intrigued with Instagram Stories because, as I mentioned above, I prefer Instagram and now I don’t need to open another app.

However, as a marketer, it’s important for me to not ignore the community that Snapchat has created. Snapchat is here to stay and Stories isn’t going to replace it anytime soon. Nor do I believe they were trying to completely replace it.

“This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.” — Kevin Systrom

For my clients, it’s important to see how we can distinguish our Instagram feed from our Stories, and whether we’ll offer exclusive content on Snapchat and not Stories, or vice versa. Stories could begin to take on a vlogging role, as brands begin to share content that’s related to their posts, but in a less formal setting.

The Internet is social media. Social media is how we communicate now.

A Marketing Classic That Still Applies

I want to end with two quotes from the book Positioning, by Al Ries & Jack Trout, which is a book every marketer needs to read.

Look for the hole… That advice goes against the “bigger and better” philosophy ingrained into the American Spirit…
To be successful in this overcommunicated society of ours, you have to play the game by the rules that society sets. Not your own… Done honestly and fairly, it keeps the competition on their toes.

While I’m still considering just how Instagram is positioning itself with Stories, it’s interesting to see how Ries and Trout’s ideas still applies today, even with the drastic changes to the space that have happened since it was first published in 1981.

Do you think Instagram is positioning themselves well as “the second”?

— Hannah

(Speaking of Instagram… Let’s connect!)