Despite initial concerns, Instagram Stories surging

Users are adopting the social media platform’s latest offering at a rapid pace. Here are details on its expansion and why some PR pros think it might be worth an investment.

Have you noticed an increase in Instagram Stories appearing at the top of your feed?

Users—and brand managers—are latching on to the offering and have begun using the platform’s newest feature to increase engagement.

Execs launched Stories in August, a move that many marketers considered a direct response to the popularity of Snapchat.

The New York Times reported at the time:

The move could ignite a head-to-head battle between Instagram and Snapchat, which have long lurked in each other’s territories but have not faced off directly. Both are mobile apps that use primarily visual media. Both became popular first with young people. And both are now trying to improve their businesses by increasing digital advertising in formats like Stories.

On rivalry and expansion

In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom says the platform’s changes have been crucial to its identity and continual expansion and relevance.

On Stories—and its similarity to Snapchat—he adds:

It’s pretty well-known that on Instagram you post the highlights of your day. I wish it weren’t that way. I wish people felt more free to share as much as they wanted during the day. As we dug into our user studies, I realized very quickly that we had to find a solution that made it so you didn’t have to post your profile. After some tests, we added a check box that said ‘expire from my profile’ or ‘don’t post to my profile.’ But no one understood why they would do that.

I wanted to be sure that we were doing the right thing for the community — not just reacting to what was out there because it was cool or hip. Ephemerality had to be adopted in a way that worked. And a signal that it is working is that after just a few months, over 100 million people, daily, use Instagram Stories. So, forget about pride of authorship, internally or externally — it’s working.

TechCrunch calls the upsurge in the use of Instagram Stories “impressive”:

Instagram Stories is benefitting from the large active user base Instagram itself enjoys, and now has 100 million daily active viewers. That’s two-thirds of the daily active user population for Snapchat, which reported 150 million global active users across its entire platform in late September . Even with a built-in audience to build from, and prime real estate positioning at the very top of Instagram’s user interface, the rapid pace of its adoption is impressive.

The PR perspective

Though many brand managers have been champing at the bit to incorporate Stories into their social media strategies, is it sustainable for everyone?

WORKSHOP: Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram to get huge results.

Corina Manea, who is chief community officer for Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich and the founder of NutsPR, says it depends on how you define your brand:

Instagram Stories are a great opportunity for brands to get in front of their audiences faster. However it has be in line with each brand’s overall social media and communications strategy. It’s not about embracing a new shiny toy, but instead about how to incorporate Instagram Stories in your strategy and being consistent.

Want to relate to consumers in an authentic, fluid way? Manea says Stories offer a solution:

PR pros, brand managers and social media managers have the chance to offer a look inside of your brand and to make it more human. [It’s a window] into your logo. When consumers identify with your brand’s mission, vision and struggles, they embrace you, securing a sense of brand loyalty and visibility.

Sway Group’s chief Danielle Wiley sees Instagram continuing to follow in Snapchat’s footsteps:

Stories are a great opportunity for many of the same reasons that Snapchat has been successful. From a marketing perspective, we love the fact that stories flow seamlessly. It allows brands to step outside of the corporate box and add a bit of fun to their marketing mix.

Though Snapchat users don’t appear to be jumping ship in favor of Instagram Stories just yet, the rise in brand interaction continues.

Have you adopted Stories, Ragan readers? Why or why not?

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