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Using Instagram Stories in Online Marketing

Almost every day, the Facebook corporation is bringing new features to the market that more or less adopt features from their competitors, especially Snapchat. One of these features is the so-called Instagram Stories, which was revealed and introduced in August 2016 as Facebook’s answer to Snapchat Stories.

After 4 months, it is time to take a look back. This article will show which applications Instagram Stories offers business, using examples of best practice.

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According to recent figures from October 2016 approximately 100 million people view Instagram Stories every day. The introduction of business accounts (over 1.5 million. as of October 2016) and the increasing number of advertisers (currently more than 500,000), which can easily reach their target audiences on Instagram directly from Facebook, are a clear signal that Instagram is becoming more interesting and relevant for companies.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are short stories formed by stringing together diverse content (e.g. short videos or images/photos) in a way that creates a "story" that then disappears after 24 hours. Each story can be filtered and edited, similarly to Snapchat. You can watch a story over and over, stop in the middle, or jump further forward.

In contrast to the usual content on Instagram, for which the expectations are continuously rising (for example, regarding the quality of photos), Instagram Stories offers you the opportunity to publish spontaneous and technologically less sophisticated content without risking alienating your "regular" followers.

Video: Introducing Instagram Stories

The Differences between Instagram (Stories) and Snapchat (Stories)

1. Reach:

Instagram has over 400 million users, and the numbers are growing. In comparison, Snapchat has around 150 million users. This means that the number of potential recipients/followers and thereby the reach is significantly larger on Instagram. Additionally, Instagram offers the possibility of exponentially increasing its organic reach through ads. And it is also possible to advertise individual elements of a story (not the entire story itself). There is no self-service tool with this function on Snapchat.

2. Statistics:

Instagram offers significantly more metrics and statistics about the performance of an account and individual content elements than Snapchat does.

3. Target Audience:

On the other hand, in many cases you reach a completely different target audience on Snapchat than you do on Facebook or Instagram. This means that, if possible, it should not be an EITHER-OR decision, but a complementary or phase-based strategy.


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Figure 1: Infographic from Delmondo

In November, Instagram Stories was enhanced through additional, new functions:

Links in Instagram Stories
Linking within a Story is currently only available for verified Instagram accounts (accounts with a blue check). This allows for the much-desired possibility of providing outside links; for example a company can include a direct link from a product featured in a story to their online shop or their company’s blog.

Boomerang in Instagram Stories
Using the smartphone app "Boomerang", it is possible to create so-called boomerangs (short loops) and add them to a story. This can make the story more humorous and entertaining.

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Figure 2: Example of the "Boomerang" function in Instagram. (Source)

Mentions in Instagram Stories
In Instagram, so-called mentions offer the possibility of linking to a connected Instagram account, for example to that of a co-author, or just someone who is being mentioned, directly in the story.

By clicking on the mention (Instagram username), a profile preview opens and the user can either change to the linked profile or choose to finish watching the story. The linked profile is informed about this mention in the form of a direct message.

This new function will also, for example, offer companies the possibility of thanking faithful followers/fans/clients or of mentioning influencers with whom collaborative content has been created or who have been mentioned in a blog article.

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Figure 3: Mentions in Instagram. (Source)

Livestreams in Instagram Stories
Instagram Livestreams, which can be integrated into stories, are entirely new. In contrast to live streams on Facebook, however, the content is not saved as a video, but is automatically deleted after the streaming.

Video: Livestreams on Instagram

Possibilities and Opportunities for Businesses with Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories and their individual components (story elements) are not bound by any algorithm. They are played, one after another, without any distraction or disruption and thus allow you to tell a story completely from beginning to end. Of course, it depends on how good and interesting (relevant) your story is.

Tips for Creating Instagram Stories

  • An Instagram Story should have enough content and be of a certain length.

  • Don’t tell a story just to tell a story: a story has to be worth watching to the end.

  • Variety is the key: Mix up your use of photos and videos, try filming from different perspectives, with and without Boomerang, etc.

  • Learn from others: Which Instagram Stories do you think really work? Which ones speak to you? Which ones don’t?

  • Find a new way: Be creative and generate unconventional content that wouldn’t show up on the normal Instagram newsfeed.

  • Offer an unfiltered view, deliver small, fleeting glimpses from daily life or offer a look behind the scenes.

  • Be spontaneous.

Example: Instagram Story about the recent Presidential Election

Instagram produced a story on its own channel about "Why it’s important to vote". Short video clips that show young Americans saying why it is important to vote and thus trying to activate younger voters to get out and vote. The Instagram accounts of the individuals in the video are linked to the story elements so that the whole thing becomes more credible and authentic.

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Figure 4: Cuttings from the Instagram Story "Why it’s important to vote"


Instagram and Snapchat will continue to work intensively on the further development of Stories and will introduce new features which others can then copy if they serve users’ needs and preferences.

Current example: Snapchat copied Instagram’s "rewind" function (backing up within a story). There is thus a competition and exchange between both companies that will continue to be interesting in the future.

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Published on Jan 26, 2017 by Karim-Patrick Bannour