Despite being the Melania to Snapchat’s Michelle, Instagram Stories are actually great for brands

Anyone who’s opened Instagram since Tuesday has likely noticed one of the app’s biggest feature updates ever. Users are now greeted by Stories – a series of photos and videos displayed together in a slideshow format that disappear after 24 hours – from people, companies and brands they follow at the top of their home feed.

To say Instagram Stories resemble Snapchat Stories in form and function would be an understatement. They’re identical. Each disappear 24 hours after being posted, are made up of a series of photos and videos, can be enhanced and edited by users with drawings, emojis and filters… The similarities go on. But here’s the thing, despite being second to market and a total copy (Instagram’s CEO himself admitted it) Instagram’s Stories may just be better for companies and organizations. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Users can now see the polished, final product and the behind-the-scenes process to get there in one place. Brands that do this well will be able to visually communicate their messages in the safe, controlled atmosphere social media has always provided through Instagram’s traditional functionality, while also giving users the authentic, exclusive access they increasingly crave with the new Stories feature.
  • Brands have a built-in following for their Instagram Stories, a huge advantage over Snapchat. Users will automatically see Stories from the organizations they already follow on Instagram without companies having to worry about building an audience on yet another social network. Discovering and following new users on Snapchat is notoriously clunky, while Instagram’s seamless suggestions of new accounts to follow (based largely on Facebook activity) will provide a huge advantage for groups to distribute Story content to existing and growing audiences.
  • In addition to being more easily discoverable and having an existing audience, the sheer size of the potential audience on Instagram outweighs Snapchat. Instagram has three times the number of daily active users as Snapchat, 300 million compared to 100 million.
  • Last and certainly not least, Instagram has the power and data of Facebook behind it. Being able to leverage this information down the road to gain insights about users who are actively and consistently engaging with brand content will be hugely powerful, as opposed to the walled garden of secrecy associated with Snapchat.

To take advantage of this new feature, organizations should start to think about ways they can offer and leverage a behind-the-scenes, humanizing side to their messages that complement the polished, visual communication that Instagram has always been great for.

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