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Are Instagram Stories Killing Your Engagement on Traditional Posts?

So as you’ve probably noticed, Stories are here and yes, they look a lot like Snapchat stories.

All of us over here at Iconosquare really love the concept of getting to see ephemeral, ‘daily life’ photos in the same place as (but separate from) the high quality, sight-for-sore-eyes stuff that is the average Instagram account.

HOWEVER, we did wonder whether the arrival of Stories would hurt engagement on the platform – which is currently 58 times higher than engagement on its parent network, Facebook. Instagram has grown from the ground up in the past few years, and always has been based on a clear value: beautiful photography. So, the adding-in of a completely different feature, based on a totally different value is great. But do the two really go together?

We thought it important to find out what effects Stories are having on Instagram.

When we put to our users and Instagram followers the question “Since the arrival of Stories, what do you spend most of your time on Instagram doing?” we got a total of 1,272 responses. The results were interesting.

988 respondents answered “Browsing feeds” and 284 respondents answered “Watching Stories”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.04.20

Hang on a minute. This means that in only 3 weeks, almost one quarter of the Instagram users we surveyed have seemingly ditched their usual Instagram activity in favour of watching Stories.

That’s pretty huge even for Instagram.

What impact on engagement?

Next, we wanted to back this information up with numbers. We wanted to know what impact this apparent change in behaviour has had on the engagement on traditional posts.

Over a period of 7 weeks (4 weeks before the launch of Stories and 3 weeks following), we inspected the evolution in engagement of 30 top brands from our brands index who use Stories, in comparaison to the evolution in engagement of another 30 top brands who use the feature rarely or not at all.

This is what we found:

Looking at the graph above, it’s clear to see that starting at the beginning of August (Stories was launched on August 2) there is a drop in engagement for brands using Stories, but also for those not using Stories.

The drop in engagement since the arrival of Stories isn’t huge, but remains significant.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 10.14.43

We have noted a global decrease in engagement over 3 weeks, dropping from 1.11% to 0.94% – which is a decrease of around 15%. We imagine the level of engagement on traditional posts will continue to fall as more and more users switch their attention over to Stories.

What does this decrease in engagement mean for businesses on Instagram?

This is a difficult question to answer simply because we have no real perspective on the matter at this time. During our study, we also checked up on how many traditional pics were being posted to Instagram, and on average, that figure doesn’t seem to have changed massively – which means that the segment of brands we studied have not modified their existing Instagram posting strategy, even if some have now begun posting Stories as well.

We will continue to monitor engagement on similar sections of our brands index and keep you updated on this issue!

 

Tell us! Do you use Stories for your business account on Instagram? Have you felt a drop in engagement in the past few weeks?

 

Don’t hesitate to leave us your views on this information in the comments below.

  • Inka

    Don’t you think, the lower activity rate is more likely a result of the new feed algorithm (not chronological anymore) which were rolled out around the same time? Did you take that into account?

    • Emily Lydon

      Hi Inka, thanks for your comment! As it stands, we cannot say for sure that the arrival of Stories is behind this dip in engagement, however the dates seem to match up. You made a good point about the algorithm – we didn’t note a huge drop from June 1st when it was introduced, although it’s still entirely possible that’s also having an effect on engagement rates globally! We’ll keep tracking these numbers and I’ll update the post with new stats and graphs as we go 🙂 Have a great day!

  • This article is right on point. I use to average 700+ likes and now I only average 500+ so yes…about a 15% lost of my engagement. So the real questions is, should I quit InstaStories and focus solely on Snapchat? Thank you for your time and I look forward to your feedback.

    • Romain Ouzeau

      Hi Soraya, engagement on your posts has probably dropped but what about engagement on your stories? How many people are watching them? Despite the decrease on your traditional posts I bet you’ve got a great engagement on your Stories. Just let the numbers speak and see if your Instagram Stories are engaging your audience, if they do then keep working on them. If they don’t then try to figure out how to improve your Stories, we will publish a post about that very soon 😉

      • Romain- Thanks for your response. The engagement on my stories is crazy…up to 1500-2000 views average. I look forward to your next post.
        – Soraya

        • Tom F

          How many followers do you have to be getting that many views on your stories? I’m keen so know where I stand because my likes have dropped a fair bit and only get around 300/post. But I get 400-600 views on stories.

  • For me it’s now 50/50 but something I’d like to see is the ability to tap from within Stories to go to that persons feed. I’m finding Stories a great reminder of some people I’ve not seen posts from in a while and some of their Stories content makes me want to see what ‘prettier’ posts they might have made from the same location… but I have to close Stories and search for them to go see! I just want to tap their profile icon and go straight there. That would boost engagement for people who are using Stories and in a way reward those that are using it more. Win-win all round 😉

    • It seems I spoke too soon with my previous comment… the update I got today seems to added the ability to tap direct on someones name at the top of Stories and go to their feed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t working initially… I tried taping names multiple times and it would only jump back to their previous Story.

      I think this will help with engagement.

      • Romain Ouzeau

        Hi Jon,

        Indeed you can now directly tap someone’s avatar toget to their profile page. Totally agree that it could help increase engagement to easily access this page and Stories can be a friendly reminder. Nevertheless keep in mind that to make sure it works you need to get in the top 4 stories of your followers, if your Story is lost among all the Stories that won’t work.

  • Romain Ouzeau

    Hi Barbara, that’s THE question everyone asks. To get started I would suggest this guide from SumoMe https://sumome.com/stories/instagram-marketing or you can also take a look at this ebook from Foundr https://foundrmag.com/how-to-get-more-followers-on-instagram/. Two great resources we can only recommend!

  • Su Falcon

    I’ve been testing the stories feature, and there are a few points that are fuzzy or downright irritating:
    1) There’s no sound on videos (when someone posts a story with a talking head, I’m not going to try to read lips!)
    2) You can see how many people viewed each image in the story, but that’s the extent of the engagement tracking. On normal video posts, you can compare # views to # likes for a sense of engagement.
    3) I’ve noticed a definite drop in number of views per image with multiple images. I have no model to compare this to. Are other people experiencing the same thing? Does this mean my stories are boring, or that viewers have the attention span of a goldfish?
    4) And then there’s cropping! Or, more accurately, inability to crop. Some of my images are getting cut off on the sides, and I haven’t been able to work out how to accommodate. Can’t find anything on the aspect ratio…

  • Art

    I noticed the “likes” go down a bit, but I do think more time is needed to get a veiw of after the initial craze and impact it had from it’s realease. I know that My engagement has increased going over insights trying to build stratagies to produce content. I find myself analyzing more compared to before “stories” was released. Maybe you can get some imfo on that ” the impact “stories” has had regarding the engagement of the brand owners or if they find themselves spending more time on IG since the release of “Stories”, I know I do, not by much but atleast 30min a day,than I before it’s release “is it a good thing? No, I would have it opposite as in spending less time and gaining more engagement. Looking forward to hear more! Thanks

  • Stories were introduced while I was on a photographic assignment in the Arctic. After a month away & returning home (to Internet access) along with what I think is some of my most beautiful & unique content on landscape, seascapes and wildlife.. (Kind of expecting a better response to the material) I’ve noticed a significant drop in my users interaction. Very few images have cracked 1000 likes, comments are down on average and in fact my post of a polar bear from yesterday I thought would change all that is my lowest engaged image in a year! And I even posted it at a time and day Instagram stats say are my peak of the week for me to post. I for sure 100% think the introduction of stories has hurt my feed. And btw I have yet to use stories.

  • Here’s an interesting algorithmic turn of events which is making me pull my hair out!! When IG introduced the algorithm – my feed followed a cycle. I’d have 3 weeks of my usual engagement 1000+ likes on my photos), and then a week where it would drop off and I’d get around 250 – 500 likes. Then it would pick up again and back to 1000 – 2000 likes. But since the 11th November my engagement has dropped and I’m lucky if I crack 350 likes. My usual response is around 200….it’s pitiful. I don’t do anything differently. I post at the same times, my photo quality (DSLR camara)/content, captions, hashtags are all the same. To see if I could make a difference I’ve tried using more/less emojis, less caption lines, different hashtags, posting at other times, using IG stories. Apart from stripping off and doing a booby shot, I’ve tried everything! Seriously, though…what is happening? This drop in engagement is around 80%. That’s huge! And this engagment trend doesn’t seem set to change – as it’s been like this for 6 weeks! I feel like I’ve been dumped in the Insta-naughty corner. Any ideas would be gratefully received…as I’m ready to bin IG. I don’t know if this is what Zuckerberg intended to happen – but I’m ready to shut the door and leave Insta-land for good. Thank you.