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How brands can make the most of Instagram Stories – Experts share

Instagram recently rolled out its version of ‘Stories’, which allows users to create and share more content such as photos, videos and customised images on the platform that can be viewed for 24 hours. Everything that is posted disappears after one day.

Instagram Stories is said to be very similar to Snapchat Stories. Instagram Stories appear at the top of the old feed and the content can be viewed from the oldest to the newest, thus giving a comprehensive time line. Moreover, the content on Stories will not appear in the main Instagram feed or one’s profile grid. Instagram Stories is being launched globally on iOS and Android in the coming weeks.

For brands, there is potential to tell the brand story in a more dynamic way and provide behind-the-scenes content as well. There is also scope for experimenting with stories.

To further explore the potential of Instagram Stories for brands as well as users, AdGully spoke to a cross-section of digital media experts.

What Instagram’s new feature means for brands

Nick Pan, Head of Planning & Strategy, SEA & India – VML, remarked that with the introduction of Instagram Stories, brands are sure to find a new realm of digital marketing and advertising opportunities.

This was because no two audiences are the same, Pan said. According to him, “Despite Snapchat’s growing popularity, more people still use Instagram compared to Snapchat. Instagrammers also tend to be relatively older than Snapchat users, so brands struggling to reach the older Gen X and Gen Y consumers on Snapchat may find this task easier on Instagram Stories. It all boils down to the audience brands want to target, and knowing the demographics that each social media platform attracts will go a long way to helping brands ensure that their messages are reaching the right ears.”

Another reason was that brands that already have a loyal following on Instagram can immediately engage their followers in a fun and casual ‘snap-chatty’ way. “No longer do they have to direct resources to a completely different app and build their audience base from scratch on Snapchat. Instagram Stories allows brands to seamlessly transition to a new way of engagement and capture their audience’s attention through photo and video moments,” Pan added.

He further felt that Instagram Stories would open doors to a wave of innovative advertising and marketing strategies as brands experiment and compete to outdo one another on the platform. “If history is any indication, just as how Snapchat saw the emergence of witty, hilarious and innovative engagement techniques, Instagram Stories is similarly poised to propel the marketing and advertising industry to new heights,” Pan noted.

Nevertheless, there still remains a clear distinction between Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Brands have been tapping onto Snapchat’s fun filters to get their branded filters out to a mass of active Snapchat users in a very short period time, and whether or not Instagram Stories will match up to the quick and fun offerings by Snapchat remains to be seen.

Swapnil Puranik, Head - Strategy, Mumbai, Razorfish India, commented, “While Snapchat pioneered the social media space, making ephemeral content mainstream among users and brands, it was restricted to the closed group of friends, Instagram has fundamentally been a follower platform allowing a much larger participation and engagement. Brands, having tasted some success on Snapchat, quickly started to realise and were kind of hoping (and waiting) for Instagram to introduce similar feature, allowing them to reach its massive daily active user base of 300 million vis-a-vis Snapchat’s 150 million daily active users.”

Swati Nathani, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, Team Pumpkin, noted that brands have been seen harnessing the potential of Snapchat as a platform to engage with their audiences. She added, “Instagram, having a strong reach and popularity amongst the younger than Facebook audience, has a great chance of making it work well for the brands. Creating Instagram Stories will now be a part of social media campaigns, and brands can leverage this especially to reach out through key influencers/ bloggers on their platform.”

Subhobroto Chakroborty, Chief Digital Officer, trgx.biz, remarked, “All brands that are targetting only Snapchat because of that strange photo disappearing feature can now get to target non-millennials too!”

How is it going to impact Snapchat?

Nathani felt that this introduction by Instagram might have limited impact on the userbase for Snapchat as the medium is well entrenched amongst its user base. Instagram, on the contrary, did not want to be left behind on feature like this for its users and drive engagement.

She further said, “However, there is good scope for taking this feature to a new level as Instagram is a platform with the diverse demographic user base and celebrities using the platform in good numbers, which will make the adoption must faster. Instagram can also use Facebook’s cross-platform integration to bring virality these type of content needs.”

While stating that Instagram Stories had definitely sparked a lot of interest among brands and power social media users, Razorfish’s Puranik felt that it would slow things down for Snapchat, forcing it to roll out cooler and better features soon. “However, Snapchat has helped its users build a following over the years, making it difficult for brands to move away from the platform immediately,” he added.

On the other hand, trgx.biz’s Chakroborty did not think Instagram Stories would impact Snapshot at all. “In fact,” he noted, “Now Instagram people (non-millennials) may also start using Snapchat more. The photo disappearing is considered cool among the millennials, so they will keep using it. Remember they use it to talk, whereas Instagram is more of a photo blogging app and not so much a communication platform, To my mind, this may not add much value to Instagram to get more people coming for this feature. Millennials use Snapchat for talking with photo, they will never use Instagram for talking. Will you use Whatspp instead of email? Never. Both are built, positioned and accepted as different apps, adding one feature or copping one feature will not make them look the same. The perception will not change. Millennials will never quit Snapshot or move to another platform.”

How it will benefit the users of Instagram?

Instagram-lovers who are not teens and were uncomfortable using Snapchat might now finally begin posting ‘Stories’ on Instagram, a platform which they are already familiar with, Puranik observed. He added, “And users who have been active on Snapchat, now wouldn’t have to leave Instagram to create ‘Stories’ and can choose which audience is able to view their stories.”

According to him, “Instagram has quite literally put its users’ Stories front and center, on top of their main feed. People or pages you most engage with will be placed ahead in the horizontal line. This makes content discovery very easy for the user, as opposed to Snapchat, where Stories are ranked chronologically. Also, the fact that Stories will disappear in 24hours, helps celebrity users, brand pages and users like you and me keep our #InstaAesthetic.”

Nathani of Team Pumpkin noted, “The users of Instagram will now be able to share pictures, videos and customise images with the introduction of stories.”

She further said that though the concept had been introduced by Snapchat and is prevalent by now, Instagram has been a popular choice of platform for sharing photos and short videos, and with this additional feature of story-telling, the users are bound to drive more engagements.

“They can now make story-lines/ concepts to showcase on their handle, without having to place it on their profile as a permanently shared content. Also, these get self-destructed, so people do not have to worry about too much content cramming on their profile,” Nathani added.

According to Chakroborty of trgx.biz, Instagram is used more by non-millennials who are not at all Snapchat users, hence this features would make them have some fun with Instagram for sure. “This makes Instagram a more cool app, without a question,” he added.

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