In a bold move to encourage its users to create and share more content on the platform, Instagram has announced Instagram Stories, a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.

The feature feels much like Snapchat Stories, a Snapchat feature that was introduced in 2013 and a pivotal part of the company’s growth.

And like Snapchat, the photos and videos shared in your Instagram Story are ephemeral and can’t be viewed once 24 hours have elapsed. Content shared to stories also won’t appear on your profile grid or in the main Instagram feed.

Update: We recently launched one of our biggest product enhancements, Buffer for Instagram, to help you plan, track and amplify your Instagram marketing.

get-started-with-buffer-instagram

What might this mean for marketers (and for social media)? We’d love to explore further, plus provide all the info on how Instagram Stories will work for you.

How Instagram Stories Work

Stories are rolling out globally on iOS and Android over the next few weeks. And while some users may have the feature available right now, others may have to wait a little longer to get up and running.

Instagram Stories appear in a bar at the top of your feed — and all Instagram accounts will be able to share stories, from your best friends to your favorite popular accounts. When there’s something new to see, their profile photo will have a colorful ring around it.

To view someone’s story, you simply need to tap on their profile photo, and their story will appear full-screen, showing you all of the content they’ve posted in the last 24hrs, the content will play in chronological order from oldest to newest.

Once you’re viewing a story, you can tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person’s story. Unlike regular posts, there are no likes or public comments.

instagram-stories-watching

How to Create a Story

To create a story on Instagram, you have to tap a new “+” icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen, or you can reveal the story camera by simply swiping left.

Instagram-stories-create

Once the story camera is open you can take a photo or record a video, just as you would normally on Instagram. After you’ve recorded your video or taken a photo, you can use a range of filters and also add text and drawings to your content.

instagram-stories-draw

Once your story is posted you can also view some basic analytics, showing you how many times each post in your story has been viewed and who has viewed it. When watching your own story, swipe up to check out this data and who’s seen each photo and video.

You can also choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile so it will appear within the feed. To do this, tap the upload button (highlighted in the below image).

instagram-stories-profile

Pro-Tip: How to Add Content from Your Camera Roll

There’s a cool Instagram stories feature that allows you to upload content created within the last 24hrs from your smartphone camera roll. Do to this, simply swipe downwards on the stories camera, and you’ll see the latest content from your camera roll appear at the top of your screen. From here, simply select the content you’d like to add to your story.

Privacy

Your story follows the privacy settings of your account. If you set your account to private, your story is visible only to your followers. However, you can also easily hide your entire story from anyone you don’t want to see it, even if they follow you.

A Couple of Ways that Stories Could Benefit Instagram

1. An attempt to increase sharing

When Instagram first jumped onto the scene in 2010, its defining feature was the ability to turn average-looking smartphone photos into professional feeling images using a range of clever filters and editing tools.

What made Instagram stand out could be somewhat of a hindrance for the company now, though, as the bar for content on Instagram has grown increasingly high. Many of the platform’s 300 million daily users see the Instagram feed as a precious place for only their best content.

Speaking to The Verge, Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom explained:

If Instagram is built around highlights, we’re filling in the space in between — and becoming more about visual expression in general. We’re capturing all the world’s moments, not just the best ones.

How often people share on Instagram

The average number of Instagram posts per user declined between 2013 and 2015, according to a study reported in The Information. And at the same time video alone on Snapchat has hit over 10 billion views per day and saw a 25 percent increase in just three months between February and April 2016.

Union Metrics put together data on brands and Instagram (note: data came before the change to an algorithm), finding that most brands post 1 to 2 times a day on Instagram (the actual average was right in the middle, 1.5).

Instagram Stories provide a way for brands and individuals to post more without overwhelming people’s feeds. As the company explained on their blog:

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want.

2. A new focus on messaging

We’ve seen a huge rise in messaging platforms over recent years, from Facebook-owned Messenger and Whatsapp (Facebook also owns Instagram) growing to over 1 billion users each and Snapchat becoming a dominant platform for 1:1 photo and video sharing and for messaging among teens.

With this update, it feels like Instagram could be about to make a move into the messaging space and become a place to not only share our best moments but discuss our every moment.

Here’s how it works: If you want to comment on something you see in someone’s story, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct.

If Instagram can crack messaging, then the app will become about much more than our finest moments, and with an array of in-the-moment stories and conversations with those closest to us to boot, it could become a truly social network.

5 Ways Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Brands aren’t strangers to Instagram. We could see a large number jump in and start testing Stories over the next couple of weeks. Here’s our best estimate and what we may see from those first movers:

1. Behind-the-scenes content

If the Instagram feed has become a place for only the most polished, pre-produced photos and video, then Stories could be a way to add some authenticity to the content that appears in the feed. With Stories, brands have a chance to take their followers on a journey and tell the story behind the posts in their feed.

Imagine seeing a brand new post from Nike featuring a well-known athlete pop up in your Instagram feed, and then being able to go behind the scenes with that athlete directly afterward or even see some exclusive footage of the shoot in their story.

This technique could be used by brands of all sizes and industries too. For example, a restaurant could post a picture to their feed on a new dish and then create a story with a well-known food blogger reviewing it. Or a real estate company could take you on a tour around a property they’ve just posted about. The possibilities here are endless.

We’ve already seen a couple of brands using stories to share this type of content, with Pencils of Promise taking their followers behind the scenes in their New York office and the UFC using stories to show one of their athletes at the supermarket sharing the food he eats during training camp

instagram-strories-examples

2. A potential way to beat the algorithm

Instagram recently added a Facebook-like algorithm to filter its feed and show users the posts it determines they’ll be most interested in at the top of their feed.

We’re still unsure whether Instagram will show all stories in chronological order or if they’ll follow the algorithm, but stories could provide a way for brands to stay top-of-mind on the platform even if their content isn’t always at the top of the feed. Experimentation with stories, and being a stand-out early adopter, could help brands to get their followers paying more attention to the posts within their feeds and boost their engagement across the platform.

3. Takeovers

Takeovers have become a big thing for brands on Snapchat. If you’re not familiar with how it works, essentially, one brand will take over another’s Snapchat account for a period and share content.

With Instagram stories, brands could begin to collaborate more with other brands or influencers. For example, at Buffer we regularly feature members of our community within our Instagram feed. Once Stories open up globally, we could share a photo from one of our community and then allow them to jump on our story and share a little more context about the photo or video in our feed.

4. A rise in 1:1 communication

When social media first hit the mainstream, there was a lot of buzz and excitement about being able to talk directly with your favorite celebrities and brands. Stories give brands the chance to get back to the roots of social media and engage with their followers on a 1:1 basis.

For example, we could see brands running Q&A sessions via Stories with people sending questions via Instagram Direct and the brand answering them within their story. We could also see stories being used to send 1:1 video messages to followers.

5. Live, timely content

There’s a lot of excitement around live video content at the moment. And Instagram Stories could give brands a way to produce live video content on the platform.

Live video is extremely engaging, and though Instagram Stories won’t allow for a long, uninterrupted broadcast like Facebook Live or Periscope, it could allow brands to make their Instagram accounts the place to go for live, interactive content.

Benefit Cosmetics have used Facebook to broadcast makeup tutorials, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York used Facebook to share the opening of a new exhibit. And there’s no reason Instagram stories couldn’t be used in a similar way to these broadcasts and take users deeper into a live event as it takes place.

Over to you

This is certainly a big move for Instagram and one that could shift the platform a great deal. Snapchat has proven there’s a huge market for sharing fleeting, everyday moments of our lives and if Instagram can make stories work alongside its current offering, then this could be one of its most important updates to date.

get-started-with-buffer-instagram

What are your thoughts on Instagram’s Snapchat competitor? Are you excited to test out stories? How do you think we’ll see brands using the feature? Share your thoughts in the comments and I’d be excited to join the conversation.

Share your thoughts in the comments and I’d be excited to join the conversation.

The simplest social media tool for businesses

Schedule posts across the top social networks, collaborate with your team, and measure the performance of your content — all in one place.

Start a 14-Day Free Trial
Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • I don’t really know how I feel at this moment in time. On the one hand this is an exciting development for some brands…behind the scenes and AMAs are great ways to engage with your audience as seen on Snapchat. However, I rarely watch videos via Instagram…I love it for the images and creativity. It would be a shame to see Instagram chock full of marketers shouting their wares and ‘hustle and grind’ messages at us every two seconds.

  • Nibiru7

    All I care about is how to turn off this useless shit so it isn’t eating up the top of my feed.

    • Mr.Mr.

      EXACTLY, I’ve been trying to figure out how, I hate this feature, I could give a f**k about your “story”! I want it gone.

  • Hi Ash,

    Thanks for citing the Union Metrics Instagram research in this. We appreciate it!

    It will definitely be interesting to see how this new feature plays out in the coming months.

    – Sarah A. Parker
    Social Media Manager | Union Metrics
    Fine Makers of the Union Metrics Social Suite & more

  • Ryan

    This is awesome. Here’s another step-by-step process for adding snapchat filters to instagram stories. What an awesome hack! –> https://www.executiv.co/blog/how-to-add-snapchat-filters-to-your-instagram-stories

    • credit

      You want to get a credit for breaking the deadlock caused by the banks, by the rejection of your records to apply for funds. You want to get a credit for the implementation of your projects, your activities; Construction of your homes; Rent a house or apartment; Purchase Home etc… We offer our loans to individuals of good serious morals able to repay.
      You’d be satisfied in the short time. You pay for 3 to up to 20 years depending on the amount of loan granting. It is for you to see for monthly payments with an interest rate of 3%. Just contact my financial advice on: fiancementdecredit@yahoo.com ….

  • credit

    You want to get a credit for breaking the deadlock caused by the banks, by the rejection of your records to apply for funds. You want to get a credit for the implementation of your projects, your activities; Construction of your homes; Rent a house or apartment; Purchase Home etc… We offer our loans to individuals of good serious morals able to repay.
    You’d be satisfied in the short time. You pay for 3 to up to 20 years depending on the amount of loan granting. It is for you to see for monthly payments with an interest rate of 3%. Just contact my financial advice on: fiancementdecredit@yahoo.com

  • polysix

    Fuck, ruining it just like you did with facebook and the curated feeds. Screw that.

    Also, you removed the ability to easily find who unfollowed you, so you end up following 100 ungrateful bastards with no way of unfollowing back without unfollowing everyone. Way to shit on your users.

    • polysix

      This is why Instagram will be dead soon (and hopefully facebook too). You just can’t stop meddling can you? You arrogant ass-hats. Keep making your easy money off the users data while you can, your time is running out.

  • Melissa Regina Harris

    IG should’ve stuck to what it was created for and found a way to improve the photo experience. This is waaaay too much content and takes away from the photo sharing experience. I wish they weren’t trying to be something they’re not.

  • Niti

    Can we c that how many time our story is to be seen by one individual?? Plz reply

    • Chief Rocka

      I’m wondering about this too. any new insight on this?

  • Beth Herndon

    Now it’s taking forever to load regular photos after this last update—any fix for this, we live on a farm and don’t have best service out here but it loaded fine before the last update.

  • Mangeuse d’Art

    It’s funny that comments are finally not as enthousiast as you are. Social media users generally don’t like major changes.
    I personnaly regret that Instagram is leaving the “high-quality” positioning, but it’s a logical evolution for a mainstream social network owned by Facebook… I like when each social media has its own use, so I’m gonna wait and see if I use the stories.
    Anyway the strategic gap is brilliant and will probably kill Snapchat’s competition. It makes me think when Foursquare switched its service with Swarm, they totally lost me, and I finally abandonned using it… Positioning change is risky, but necessary, so wait and see!

  • It’s funny that comments are finally not as enthousiast as you are. Social media users generally don’t like major changes.
    I personnaly regret that Instagram is leaving the “high-quality” positioning, but it’s a logical evolution for a mainstream social network owned by Facebook… I like when each social media has its own use, so I’m gonna wait and see if I use the stories.
    Anyway the strategic gap is brilliant and will probably kill Snapchat’s competition. It makes me think when Foursquare switched its service with Swarm, they totally lost me, and I finally abandonned using it… Positioning change is risky, but necessary, so wait and see!

  • Siany_23

    What about metrics when it comes to stories? Is there a plan to show brands how long their stories have been watched or how many people have viewed? I fear that without seeing the effects of the stories, it’s going to be difficult to prove their worth.

  • It’s good project. I’ll creat stories for me. am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the
    next! I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. 9games.me, iogamesonline.com

  • @Zayd-Awadallah: Instagram Launches Instagram Stories: What They Are, How They Work and How Brands Can Use Them

  • I love the ability to share an image from my camera roll. That has come in handy!

  • ME

    But can they see you’ve viewed their story if you’re not a follower?

  • team dayone

    Wow you need to try this hacker, is services are overweening his is a licensed Russian hacker who helped a friend of mine recover her hacked Instagram account back in less than 12hr His name is frank doe_tech, he is reliable and trustworthy he also can hack into any social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter,Instagram,what’s app and so on. He changes school grades,clear criminal records, hospital records too…if you ever need his help or services please don’t hesitate to contact him via email:felchapo9@gmail.com or kik:felchapo.

  • Corey

    Doesn’t matter. All noise still blowing around the followers. Nice that exists some services like zen-promo (.com) to find them, it is really great.

  • Tracy

    By the way, what can you suggest to find followers? My favorite service is zen-promo (com), it has cool city-based search of real followers.

  • Trina

    But how can you turn it off?!

  • Francisco Olivari

    how you put more than one video or photo on the story?

  • Kayla Butler

    is anyone else having trouble with their stories being posted out of order? i run the social media accounts for a retail store and i’ve been regularly posting videos and photos to our story every morning to show new products. i’m noticing that my story does not play in order– i’ll post a few videos in a row (that make sense together) but then they end up getting mixed in with photos that i post as well, so my story doesn’t make sense anymore. is instagram really using the algorithm for everything?!

  • Terry Gardner

    If you are making a my day type story when would the 24 hours start? If you post a morning photo and continue to add more throughout the day when would it disappear? Or would you have to wait until all photos were taken then make the story from camera roll?

  • MC LaTableDeNana

    It is taking up too much data on our internet plan.How can I control that on our PCs..etc..I like seeing that feature..but our usage skyrocketed.

  • Parinaz Prv

    why someone names always are on the top of my stories viewers or are on the top of my photos like?!

  • Ben Boykin

    I am experiencing issues with image being added in Stories being too large for the screen. Are there any workarounds/fixes? Has anyone else had this issue. I notice there is no way to pinch the image to where it fits on the screen. Thanks in advance.

  • Sandra

    What does the order of who views your story on Instagram mean? Why is one person always on top no matter when they view it?

  • Christine

    it’s great if anyone else having trouble with their stories in instagram