On August 2, 2016 Instagram Stories were introduced for the first time, and this past August, Stories celebrated their first anniversary after a very successful year. Nowadays, the app has over 250 million daily users, and Stories helped increase the amount of time people spend on it. Users under the age of 25 spend around 32 minutes a day on the app, while those over the age of 25 spend over 24 minutes. Stories’ popularity has expanded immensely over the past year and not just with individual users. According to Instagram, more than 50% of businesses on the app posted an Instagram Story over the past month. These stories have proven to be beneficial for the businesses themselves, with one out of every five stories resulting in a direct message.
There are many different and creative ways that companies have used Instagram Stories to promote their brand. In my opinion, following brands on Instagram and watching their Stories almost gives them a sense of a personality, which makes me appreciate their posts more. My personal favorite Instagram Stories to watch include the MLB, E! News and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The MLB posts game highlights from almost all games, so fans can see what is happening with teams other than their favorites. E! News posts range from interviews with celebrities to a rundown of their top stories if you don’t have time to sit down and read, which is an interesting way to grab their audience’s attention. The Tonight Show uploads a variety of posts and each are both unique and engaging. Every morning, they post who will be on the show that night, and they utilize Instagram Story features, such as the reverse effect or Boomerang, in order to make the post stand out. They also post “In Case You Missed It” (ICYMI) moments, which include a clip from a funny or interesting part of the night before’s episode. They also occasionally post about a ticket giveaway, which urges their followers to find an intern in a specific New York City location to receive tickets to that night’s episode.
While extremely popular, Instagram has faced criticism for the similar format to Snapchat stories. Much like Snapchat, these stories disappear in 24 hours and users have the option to add filters to their posts. However, Instagram Stories include more effects than Snapchat, such as Boomerang and a hands-free recording option. Instagram executives have mentioned that while Snapchat may have inspired this new platform, their reasoning behind the purpose of Stories is completely different. Instagram Stories are considered “a way for users to get away from only posting highlights of their lives.” Co-founder and CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, explained “... what about all the moments that you don’t want to hang up in the art gallery, that aren’t the highlights of your life, that you don’t necessarily need to be judged on? It’s simply a status update.”
When Instagram first released Stories, I personally thought they wouldn’t be very successful because it was almost an exact clone of Snapchat stories. As they grew in popularity, I realized the different ways my friends and the people that I follow use them. While some choose to upload the exact same post to both stories, my personal experiences with both platforms have shown me that Snapchat stories are used for more humor and jokes between friends, whereas Instagram Stories are more “artsy. ” Whether it’s a picture of a landscape, a short video while on a run or a Boomerang of something that caught their attention, in my opinion, Instagram Stories show more of everyday life while Snapchat stories are more of a way to engage with friends.