When you’re a huge company, you don’t always have to be first. You don’t always have to be innovative. Sometimes, you need only to be forward-thinking enough to see where the market’s going and react. At times, reacting can even mean “stealing,” as was the case recently when Instagram lifted the idea for their new “Stories” feature directly from Snapchat.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso (And, later, Steve Jobs.)
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom openly admits that Instagram “borrowed” the idea for Instagram stories from SnapChat. When you’re the size of Facebook-owned Instagram, you tend to get away with this kind of behavior, and if early indications are to believed, Instagram’s latest feature is proving popular.
Innovation and creative license aside, how does your business go about posting Instagram Stories, and how does the feature compare with what’s already available from Snapchat?
Questions may abound in this brave new world of Snapchat-inspired Instagram updates, but fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
How to Post Instagram Stories
Posting Instagram Stories is fairly straightforward and accomplished in a manner largely in line with Instagram’s existing structure, ensuring that folks of all ages may get in on the fun.
Posting to your business or personal Instagram story feed goes as follows:
- Navigate first to the home screen of your Instagram app. Unlike with posting regular photos to your main feed, Stories are only post-able from the home screen.
- Forget about the familiar camera icon at the bottom of your screen. Instead, look to the top left of your home screen. You’ll notice a new “broken circle” icon that is comprised of dashes and straight lines. There is also a “+” sign in the middle of the circle. Tap on this icon.
- Your camera app will open. Take the photo of your choosing by clicking on the camera button at the bottom of the screen, or hold this button to record a video. You can flip the camera by tapping the icon to the right of the camera button.
- Upon taking your photo or video, you’ll notice the user interface changes to include additional options. At the top right, you can add text and drawings. At the bottom right, you can save the image or video to your phone’s camera roll. Edit your image as you see fit.
- Finally, at the middle bottom, you’ll notice a check-mark. Tap this to submit your post to your story feed once you’re pleased with your work of art.
How Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories Differ
It’s important to understand that while Instagram Stories may have been directly inspired by Snapchat Stories, the two story features in each social application are not carbon copies. There are differences.
Let’s take a brief look at what separates Instagram Stories from Snapchat Stories.
Snapchat remains entirely episodic. Whenever you post a story to Snapchat, you’ll find that the story will always disappear after 24-hours (unless the user deletes it first.) This is derived from the initial structure of Snapchat, which involved sending “snaps” directly to users that would “self-destruct” immediately upon viewing.
Instagram is a bit different. While your Instagram story is also set to automatically disappear after 24-hours, you can always utilize your feed to tell a story permanently. Unlike Snapchat, the main Instagram feed hosts your photos and videos forever—should you choose not to delete them—and Instagram allows out-of-the-gate for the possibility to save your story to your camera roll for posting permanently to your main feed.
Snapchat recently incorporated a “Memories” feature that allows you to re-post saved snaps to your story, or send them directly to friends. You can also save Memories for your own perusal. However, while Memories remain viewable for your eyes only into the future, they still disappear 24 hours after being sent to a friend or added to your story.
Despite the Memories addition, Snapchat continues to lack the permanency that Instagram affords.
It isn’t just a question of permanency. Instagram Stories are public (unless the account in question is specifically set to private), giving your brand the opportunity to reach far more consumers.
Snapchat Stories are inherently a private affair. Your stories can only be viewed by people that follow your account, and vice versa. By contrast, Instagram Stories are public by default in the same manner as posts added to an account’s main feed.
In short, there’s far greater exposure opportunity for Instagram Stories versus Snapchat Stories.
Filters have become absolutely huge on the Snapchat platform, and Instagram likewise gets in on the fun with their new Stories feature. However, there are some considerable differences in the availability of filters between the two services.
Snapchat includes geofilters, which are location-based branding and theme additions to your photo or video. Cities have specialized geofilters, as do many businesses and special events. Further, Snapchat features both motion and face-mapping filters, allowing users to goof around with face-swapping technology and slow-motion effects, among other options.
Instagram keeps it more straight-laced when it comes to filters, and comparatively limits options. Instead of geofilters and face-mapping tomfoolery, Instagram only focuses on filters that adjust image contrast and color.
Snapshots are a big no-no on Snapchat. Whenever a user takes a screen capture of a snap on that service, the user that posted the content will be immediately notified.
Instagram Stories feature no such privacy-protection, although the existence of this feature would seem out of place given the inherently public nature of the platform. It’s a notable distinction, however.
While Instagram offers a greater chance of exposure through its Stories, it also increases the chance that your business’s content may get lost in the shuffle.
There are currently approximately 500 million active monthly users for Instagram, compared to approximately 100 million for Snapchat. There’s currently no system in place for hiding Instagram Stories from specific accounts, either, opening up the possibility that the sheer scale of Instagram may lead to some stories being ignored or missed entirely.
With so much content overflowing on Instagram both via the main feed and Stories, businesses will have to adapt to determine the best way to feature their content.
Of course, for there to be any chance your content is seen by a wide audience in the first place, you’ll want as many followers as you can rustle up. Check out Foundr’s crash-course on How to Get More Instagram Followers.
Using Stories to Generate Leads, Sales & Traffic
Many are questioning the purpose of Instagram stories and if this can actually be used as a tool to further develop your business or not. We’ve found a few simple tactics to be working so far!
One thing you can do is take advantage of the 24 hour lifetime of each story that you post. You can get creative and have limited time free shipping or discount coupon codes, to anyone that views the story. The powerful thing about this is it allows your fans to take action, and it makes the interaction fun and natural.
Humanizing Your Brand
Because Instagram Stories are generally live, and quiet raw this will allow you to develop a much deeper relationship with your audience.
Remember people buy from other people or brands, they know like and trust, and this is now a great opportunity to showcase the people behind the company or page that are operating it. This is also a great opportunity to start posting “behind the scenes” and posting unique content that your fans will not be able to see anywhere else. The best part is, even when you are testing the kind of stories to post, they only last for 24 hours!
Utilizing your Instagram stories as another form of attention can be very powerful!
As you can see in the screenshot below we’ve used Instagram stories as another way to remind people of the FREE Richard Branson issue people can download. Thinking of stories as another way to grab your fans attention can be a really powerful way to drive traffic!
So there you have it! If you’re not utilizing Instagram stories to grow your business, you’re missing out. Please do try the tips that we’ve shared above and let us know in the comments below how you’re finding them!