Instagram Stories: what are the implications for consumers and brands?

Social media users all over the world, on Tuesday, were introduced to Instagram’s latest offering – Instagram Stories, a real-time content sharing feature within the existing Instagram app. Instagram Stories allows users to upload photographs as well as videos in the form of ten-second slideshows, which self-delete after 24 hours. If this sounds a tad too familiar, it’s because it is. Meant to be a secondary feed that offers on-the-go content to users, Instagram’s Stories is strikingly similar to Snapchat’s central feed – also called Stories – in terms of functionality.

Instagram Stories 1















Photo: Instagram blog

Given today’s social media landscape where concepts that aren’t completely fresh mostly don’t make the cut, it’s easy to be skeptical about Instagram’s Stories. Having said that, it’s important to consider Instagram’s reach – 500 million and 300 million monthly and daily active users respectively – and what that reach could mean for a short-term content format that’s already popular among users, as demonstrated by Snapchat.

Instagram Stories - 2

While Instagram’s Stories builds on Snapchat’s product model, it does have some independent features of its own, like the option to choose who you share your Stories with, and editing styles that are smoother and more creative than the ones available on Snapchat.





Photo: Instagram blog

Where Instagram is getting it right

Snapchat may have pioneered the collapsible content format, but Instagram’s foray into this territory is a big step not only for its own re-invention, but also for redefining how people consume and create content. Instagram has long held the reputation of a social network with stunning visual art– over the years, it has given aspiring artists a global platform for their work. On Instagram, people tend to share only the most polished, “perfect” versions of themselves and the people, places and things they love. Now with Instagram Stories, in the social network’s world of predominantly picture-perfect newsfeeds with time-consuming edits and well-thought-out captions, the “imperfect” photograph may just find some place.

Posting multiple photographs in a row is a big Instagram no-no – seasoned Instagram users abide by this; people generally refrain from crowding the network with more than a few photographs at a time, for fear of spamming their followers.

Brands, on their part, are cautious not to post more than twice or thrice a day in order to not overwhelm their fans. While this safe approach helps to stand out from the clutter and prevent brand fatigue, it also results in countless missed opportunities for branding and engagement. This is where Instagram Stories could change the game – with its placement above the newsfeed, it doesn’t disturb the regular content people are used to, while also creating space for more spontaneous, temporary content. Once Instagram opens up digital advertising for the native Stories feature, brands can direct their following to relevant, tailored and real-time stories during events, promotions, etc. in a non-intrusive manner.

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Photo: Instagram blog

Instagram Stories makes a lot of sense because instead of being introduced as a new app, which will likely not see many downloads – most US smartphone owners download zero new apps in a typical month – it has been added to an existing and hugely successful app that millions love and use daily. It is a strategic product launch in many ways. And while comparisons to Snapchat are galore, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, in an interview with TechCrunch, gives credit to Snapchat, and says about the similarities,

“This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

Snackable content is here to stay

Easy-to-consume, entertaining and real-time content is the way forward. It won’t be surprising if more social networks go the snackable content way – it’s one of the surest ways to keep users interested and coming for more.


It’s said that while people go to Instagram to be beautiful, they flock to Snapchat to be silly and uninhibited. Could Stories change this dynamic?

Melanie Joe

Melanie Joe

Melanie is Consultant - Research and Insights at MSLGROUP, based in Mumbai. She tracks inspiring initiatives in the digital space for People's Insights.

3 Responses to “Instagram Stories: what are the implications for consumers and brands?”

  1. MSLGROUP Peoples Lab (@PeoplesLab)

    #Insights: #InstagramStories – what are its implications for consumers and brands? Read here:

  2. Pascal Beucler (@pbeucler)

    Well done Melanie Joe, great content on Instagram stories and what it means to brands. Proud to have U in my team!

  3. @msl_group

    How the “imperfect” photograph may find some place in the #socialmedia ecosystem w/ Instagram Stories. @melanie_joe


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