We've talked about Instagram Stories before, and how they allow you to post 24-hour long collections of photos and videos for "in the moment" descriptions and communication. You know, basically like Snapchat – in fact, so much like Snapchat that many people wondered just what Instagram was trying to do by copying such a popular social app so exactly.
Well, it looks like Instagram knew exactly what it was doing. Stories hasn't even been in play for a year yet, and it already has more than 200 million users a day, which dominates Snapchat's latest report of around 158 million active users each day. In other words, not only did Stories beat out Snapchat at its own game, it did it in record time with just a single new feature.
Obviously this is huge news for Instagram, and a sign that Snapchat may be on its way out after years of catching social media headlines. But how did this happen – and why is Instagram growing so popular? Let's take a look at the top five reasons Instagram's new strategy is so great (and could be great for you, too).
If we're playing the numbers game, this is the important point. Instagram was very, very well-positioned to create something like stories, for two reasons. First, the convergence of services: People hate switching between apps for two different stories. They don't like posting a photo on Instagram and then switching Snapchat for a temporary video. When people find a service that can do both those things without the need to switch, they embrace it. There's an argument for making apps simple, but when you are as big as Instagram, it pays to offer multiple services via a single login.
The second reason is that Instagram already had the numbers. It's traditional posting option – which Snapchat doesn't have – already had hundreds of millions of subscribers around the world. So it was easy to channel those people toward Stories without the need to invite a new audience aboard, the way a brand new app would have it.
2. Location and Hashtag Stories
Instagram is also busy creating new features that tie into Stories, and some of them are quite impressive. Take, for example, the new location and hashtag stickers for Stories. This allows Stories to be stickied based on specific places or trends. For example, say that your business has a showroom at Circle Mall Downtown. With Stories stickied to this location, people can look up Circle Mall Downtown on Instagram and find all the Stories associated with it, including your latest event. This allows for a lot more organic searching from local people or visitors that are looking for general information.
Let's not overlook the storytelling capabilities at work here. When people (and businesses) snap a photo or look through their recent photos, they make a lot of judgment calls. Some photos may be suitable for a permanent post on Instagram. Some photos may be more casual or humorous and suitable for a quick day-long post on Stories. Other photos may not be much by themselves, but can tell a great story when used in a series of posts on Stories or Carousel. Stories encourages more flexible storytelling options, and users respond to that.
4. Business Opportunities
Instagram, on the whole, is more friendly to businesses than Snapchat. Snapchat has certainly offered a few benefits to brands (such as customized filters), but Instagram is trying a lot harder, with more options. Add in the easy connections to Facebook and the more professional audience on Instagram, and companies tend to choose it first. Stories is a feature many brands would try out on Instagram, but would never bother downloading Snapchat to use.
5. Exploring Synergy
When people really like a series of messages on Snapchat...they really like them. That's about it. When people really like Stories on Instagram, there's a lot they can do with that favor: They can follow the general Instagram profile, take a look at permanent photos, use description links to hop over to the website or Facebook – essentially, Stories gives people a lot of adjacent content to explore if visitors like what they see.
How will your business use Instagram location stories to find and interact with prospects?