Instagram launched their new feature “Instagram Stories” in August of this year. The community made large use of this new tool which would explain Instagram’s interest in optimizing the function. The new update features Stories in the Explore Section of the app. This way, the Stories that are shared are able to reach a broader audience, enhancing the visibility of the content and increasing the connections made on Instagram.
So far, 2016 has been a rather productive and exciting year for Instagram. Many new features were added and a lot of things have changed. Instagram received positive and negative feedback for their updates. One of the most controversial ones was the launch of Instagram Stories in August. Many critiqued Instagram for copying Snapchat’s feature. James Quarles, Instagram’s Vize President Monetization simply stated that “Stories is a format, just like hashtags and newsfeed”. While the two features might be rather similar, Instagram is still keeping it as close to the app’s original features as possible. This includes the ability to view Stories in the Explore section of the app.
How does it work?
Since the launch, Instagram received highly positive feedback from the community, with over 100 million users watching or sharing Stories every day. However, users were only able to view Stories that were published by accounts they already followed. Now, users are presented with a variety of different Stories, including those of new accounts they do not follow yet. The featured Stories are once again based on an algorithm which combines user’s interest and who they follow to generate a selection of Stories that might be of interest for the user. This way, users are able to look through Stories of other users, presenting a new way of finding interesting accounts to follow. The benefit of featuring Stories in the Explore-section is that users are presented with the “behind the scenes” content that is often perceived to be more authentic. The fact that the Stories are presented above the other content highlights them even more. Including Stories in the Explore-section and presenting them on top of a user’s screen underlines the importance and growing potential of this feature.
What does this mean?
The general function of the Explore-section on Instagram is to present users with new but similar content. Based on users’ preferences and interests, they are provided with an endless amount of pictures and videos they have not seen yet. This automatically increases the visibility of content as users, especially brands and businesses, are able to reach a wider audience than just those who follow them. With the update, the same applies to their Stories. Instead of just providing their users with more authentic and personalized content, they are able to attract new followers with this exclusive content. Integrating Stories in the Explore-Section is therefore another important reason to make use of this great feature.
Why share Stories?
James Quarles believes that Instagram users make use of Stories to “express moments between their highlights”. Instagram Stories might be Instagram’s way of advocating more reality on Instagram. Most users share more authentic and realistic content in their stories as opposed to the perfectly edited content they share in their gallery. This is due to the fact that the shared stories will disappear after 24 hours, making it possible for them to share quick snapshots that are not necessarily of the best quality. Stories is about presenting your followers, and now other users, with insights into your business or brand, how it works and what is happening “behind the scenes”. And most importantly, this is happening in real-time. Users feel closer to and more involved with the accounts that share their stories. As a brand, you will profit immensely from this. Sharing Stories will personalize your brand, showing your users that there are real, authentic individuals behind the polished image you usually present on your account. Now that you are able to reach even more people with your Stories, make sure to include this function in your account on a regular basis.