The internet has been buzzing since last week and the release of the new Instagram Story function. Personally I have loved following the story and reading all of the discussions within Facebook Groups surrounding the subject.
Was it a flat out rip-off of Snapchat? Probably, but so what? At first I felt bad for Snapchat, but I quickly remembered that Instagram had to do something drastic to attract users back to the platform and that is exactly what it did. I really like Jack Delosa's take on it, where he refers to the innovation behind the new Instagram feature:
“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…. no one looks down at someone for adopting something that is so obviously great for presenting a certain type of information.”
Instagram Stories came along at the right time
At the start of 2016 I jumped on the bandwagon and rode the Snapchat wave and loved it! It was so much fun, I really enjoyed sharing a mix of my personal life, family life, business life and tips for social media.
More recently however, before the announcement that Instagram was bringing in "stories", I had began to struggle with keeping up with everyone I was following. I didn't know who people were, where they were from, let alone what their business was. I stopped watching people's stories on Snapchat because some of them were sharing things I had no interest in; because I didn't feel connected with them, I wasn't concerned about the day to day happenings of their life.
This is where I felt a real disconnect with Snapchat, business-wise. I still loved to watch my personal friend's stories, viewing their pets, having a laugh at their children's antics, seeing what they were up to on the weekend. But when it came to business, bloggers and personal brands, I couldn't bring myself to watch all of the in-between stuff to get to the little nuggets of value and insight when they popped up. It was time consuming and a little draining. Hello content overload!
Enter Instagram stories = problem solved?
It is of course early days, but going on what the majority of business connections and commenters have been discussing online, as well as my initial thoughts, I believe Instagram is going to be more strategic and representative of one's business. This is good news; I think it will help us to cut through to the relevant and valuable content and see more of the themes, story and values of the businesses and brands we align with and follow on a daily basis.
If brands are going to think strategically and use Instagram stories effectively, I really think they need to:
- Show more of themselves, their teams, their people
- Share content that aligns perfectly with their brand
- Be real- the Instagram profile is already curated and edited, the story needs to be raw and authentic.
- Be regular- share stories daily when it is possible.
- Get straight to the point- be sharp, exciting and to-the-point
- Avoid sharing too much- don't go overboard with stories, people are becoming aware of consuming too much content.
- Get stories right from the start- make a plan, have guidelines in place, then run with it. To have success and engagement with Instagram stories stay away from sharing irrelevant content right from the start.
- Avoid negativity- to attract the right clients, customers and readers, think about remaining positive and share uplifting messages, whilst remaining authentic of course.
Some Pros of Instagram Stories:
1. You can recognise a brand and put it together with it's story...
Discovering a brand's stories on Instagram is simple- you can connect the brand to their story because of the easy access to their profile. You have access to their website, contact information and even location.
2. You can easily search, discover and follow...
No more driving users to your Snapchat profile through other networks and requesting for them follow your call to action. People want simplicity and they want things to be quick and easy- asking them to open up another app and type in your username to find you may be one extra step that they would rather not take.
Discovering new and exciting profiles to follow is near impossible on Snapchat, where as on Instagram you can get lost when exploring the platform.
3. It is intuitive...
I have had clients, friends and family all struggle with how to use Snapchat. In more than one case, they gave up as it wasn't at all intuitive and they became frustrated. Instagram Stories on the other hand- well they are giving it a go! They already know how to use the platform well, so the extra functionality has been no trouble to pick up, they have found it easy and fun.
4. There is a good chance you already have an established community on Instagram...
If you have been using Instagram to promote your brand for sometime, there is a good chance that you have established a supportive community of followers on the platform. Sharing 10 second videos and behind-the-scenes photos with your following on a regular basis is only going to strengthen your community. By cultivating that community by providing more value, interacting, answering questions etc., you will be doing your established community a world of good.
What others are saying...
Don't just take our word for it- I have collected some reputable opinions on the topic of Instagram Stories versus Snapchat for you, take a read:
"While I'm not ready to throw Snapchat out the window, there is definitely a place for each of the 'stories'!
Snapchat enables me to chat with my friends, I've added them, they've added me, and I can show them what I had for dinner and raw (RAW) footage of me having a meltdowns!
Instagram stories are however more discoverable, you don't have to move your audience off platform, and they don't have to add you. Think of Instagram stories as an extension of your aesthetic, a behind the scenes look at your Instagram feed!"
- Christy Laurence Visual Instagram planner + scheduler
"I'm a big fan of simplicity and time management with marketing, so I'm loving Instagram stories because I can streamline my social media easier. I'll be using Instagram Stories to post daily tips and behind the scenes of my business and I'll keep using Snapchat occasionally, but more of a personal profile rather than business focused."
- Jenna Black
"I'm currently experimenting and taking a 'watch and wait' approach. Despite the fact from a business perspective it makes more sense to use Instagram Stories because the views are triple what I'm seeing on Snapchat — with my audience being much more established on IG — it's hard to know whether the data is accurate at this point with the way stories are viewed (rolling into one another). On Snapchat, we tend to keep our follow list tighter than we do on IG, and have sought out people to follow based on the fact we truly WANT to follow them for their video content.. so without the same process on IG, it's hard to gauge at this point.
*Personally, it's brought to my attention a bunch of accounts on IG I want to cull, so is actually having a negative impact in some ways."
"I think entrepreneur Jack Delosa nailed it when he wrote about Instagram 'innovating' rather than 'inventing' Instagram stories, so I truly believe this won't be the first time we see leading social media platforms creating similar channel options. I will continue to use Snapchat for my 'behind the scenes' posts but use Instagram stories as more of a distribution platform for life and business updates. I think there is space for both platforms - we just need to be mindful of our consumption habits!"
- Ellie Swift @elliehswift
"I'm using Instagram Stories (instead of Snapchat, never used that for business) because its a platform that's discoverable. Unlike snapchat where it was difficult to grow an audience and find new accounts to follow (you had to hear of them elsewhere first), Instagram Stories lets you take advantage of Instagram's natural search and discovery functions and supplement your business with additional "unfiltered" content!"
"Instagram Stories is an evolutionary update. It catches up with the ephemeral nature of mobile. Stories will encourage people to share more freely without the anxiety of likes. It also gives users a chance to add more context to their gallery images – a backstory to their photos – while also revealing a bit about their personality. The Internet wants real, not fake."
So where will Social Media Creative be hanging out?
In honour of simplicity and consolidation, during these early stages, I am most probably going to be sharing all things aligned with Social Media Creative over on Instagram.
In saying that, I still love checking out our Snapchat stories, the new filters and having fun getting creative on the platform with our SC community. So, I will be continuing to share my home life (and maybe a little biz) on Snapchat as I am not ready to give up on it yet (especially that butterfly crown filter).
Can we hear from you?
I want to hear your thoughts on the new Instagram feature, as well as the content you really enjoy consuming. Do you follow brands for their tips, experiences and insights, or purely for entertainment purposes? Or a mix of both?
Drop your comments below and let's chat about it!