Instagram made a product announcement remarkably similar to Snapchat last week. Instagram Stories, a new (read: new to Instagram) way to share photos and videos that disappear after – you guessed it – 24 hours, encourages users to post at a higher frequency with more “rough, off-the cut images,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, told the Wall Street Journal.
While there aren’t ads in Stories (yet), the new feature is Instagram’s attempt to increase usage, make content more casual and get away from perfectly filtered images that get deleted when they don’t receive “enough” likes. Systrom admitted that “deletions are fairly high” when photos don’t get enough likes or engagement.
Here are three things brands need to know about Instagram Stories right now:
1. Instagram’s huge audience still wins: While Snapchat has fun geotags and filters, and Instagram only has the capability to add emoji and doodle, Instagram has 300 million daily active users and Snapchat has half that at 150 million. Instagram already has a captive and engaged audience and Snapchat has a way to go in terms of usage.
2. Already have a strong Instagram following? Start using Stories now! Unlike Snapchat where brands had to build up a whole new audience from scratch, several brands on Instagram already have an established group of users. Brands that have a built-in audience have the opportunity to instantly start posting lighthearted, fleeting content. In addition, brands have an increased chance of getting discovered on Instagram with the use of hashtags and the discover page – while Snapchat content often cannot be found unless users know what to search for. So, if users do not follow a brand on Snapchat, that content is never found.
3. It’s a way to highlight company culture: Stories take away the formality of sharing the perfectly curated and filtered image. It’s authentic, fun and something that you know was shared in the moment. Stories take the pressure away from seeing the “like” count increase because you cannot like Stories – you can only see who has viewed them à la Snapchat-style.
But the biggest questions circulating the internet a week after Stories launched: will this stick and will people and brands adapt Stories? For my personal use, until Instagram gets a voice-changing bee filter, I’m skeptical.