How Instagram Stories is a game changer for brands

Yesterday, to much surprise, Instagram rolled out their ‘Stories’ feature.

I have to admit, when I first heard about it, I was immediately turned off by the idea. I thought, why copy the very essence of Snapchat and put it into another app? Isn’t it just contributing to the homogeny of social media platforms? Why not just come up with a feature that’s new?

But now that I’ve seen it in action, I actually think it’s kind of genius. And while it may not make a major difference to personal Snapchat users, it makes a big difference to brands.

Here are some of the ways that Instagram Stories beat out Snapchat for business:

Upload photos from your Camera Roll taken in the last 24 hours
Sure, Snapchat have sort of introduced this feature as well, but since Snapchat has always first and foremost been an app for in-the-moment content, it doesn’t quite work in the same way. Instagram, however, has immediately acknowledged that its users will want to post photos taken outside of the app, and has allowed for that functionality – provided those photos were taken in the last 24 hours.

How do you do it? Just drag your thumb downwards while in the Story area and you’ll be able to select images from your Camera Roll that are at most 24 hours old!

This function isn’t only useful for making sure you upload the best of 40 selfies, though. It means that your brand’s Story can manifest itself in all sorts of fun and creative ways. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Plan a Story campaign ahead of time
Plan the content subject matter, take a bunch of photos, pick out the best ones and then publish them out over the course of the day – there’s no need for the urgency of ‘in-the-moment’ that Snapchat creates.

2. Have influencers curate your Story content for you
In the same way that businesses use influencer takeovers on Snapchat as a way to build their following and raise awareness for their brand, having an Instagram influencer ‘takeover’ your Story will become a creative way to engage your audience and hopefully adopt some of theirs.

3. Create engaging user-generated content
Get your audience to take photos using your product and send them to you – pick the best ones and feature them with their handles in your Story. Instant exposure for those lucky fans, and great authentic content for you!

Oh, and there are two ways to bypass the 24 hour time limit. Firstly, you can screenshot the picture you want to add – since taking a screenshot is essentially creating a new image, it’ll have a current timestamp on it. Secondly, you can import your old photo into a photo editing app, and then resave it to create the new timestamp (I’ve had some problems with this, though. Weirdly, in some apps the first time I’ve resaved a photo it has successfully come up in Instagram, but every image I’ve resaved after that hasn’t!)

You’re not limited to the dodgy Snapchat photo quality
Seriously, Snapchat is grainy at the best of times. Being able to share high-res images or even just regular phone quality shots makes a huge difference. On top of that, being able to edit them using the wide range of photo editing apps available will mean a greater opportunity to create diverse, unique content.

Instagram Stories New Snapchat style feature - social media marketing

Awesome content already happening from @kikki.k, @kongbbq and @ofkin in Instagram Stories!

It relieves the stress of feeling like you have to post ‘at-the-moment’ content every single day
If you’re on Snapchat, there’s a lot of pressure to be creating ad hoc content every day that feels both spur-of-the-moment and entertaining to your audience. Instagram Stories alleviates some of that pressure. Since you’ve already got a curated feed of scheduled content that is regularly being updated (one would hope), you have room to think carefully about what should be going on your Story without feeling as though you’re leaving a gaping hole in your content output.

You can share things you wouldn’t normally share in your feed with your Instagram audience
Sometimes there are moments you want to share that just don’t fit the norm of your Instagram aesthetic, like behind-the-scenes action or work-in-progress shots. Usually content like this has been taken to Snapchat, but since Snapchat’s daily active users are sitting at around one third of Instagram’s, content like this would be far more powerful on the latter – especially for brands who are finding it hard to migrate their Instagram following over to Snapchat.

There are probably a million other ways that brands can directly benefit from Instagram Stories – but these are just a few to get you thinking.

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