Is Instagram shifting its business from a picture driven platform to a story platform, more like Snapchat? I think it really is a question worth asking as most updates of the app are changing stories features and the way the users interact with them, without changing the rest of the platform. Is Instagram purposefully letting the filter and image platform die in order to recreate a messaging and story app like Snapchat?
While most people are complaining about Instagram’s algorithm because the app gave up on the chronological feed a long time ago, people working at Instagram seem to use all their energy to make the story functionalities more attractive — and very innovative, obviously — and more social. They seem to really ignore the main complaints users have. They seem to ignore what people want, instead, they’re adding new features that people don’t seem to care about. That really doesn’t make sense. Instagram is probably aiming to be a different social media channel than most people expect. And as a digital marketer, it’s really important to understand what Instagram is trying to accomplish, it’s very important to understand what the future of the platform will be in order to keep our organic reach, our organic influence on our audience. It’s also key to focus on what will matter on Instagram as the competition on the platform is getting more and more present.
Instagram is a phone app.
This seems very basic and obvious but let me clarify. Instagram is made to be used on a phone. The desktop version is awful and limited and there is not even an iPad version. Instagram is specifically designed to be used on a phone. For a long time, posting on Instagram was only possible on a phone (I know it was possible to post from a desktop, but it wasn’t easy nor practical to do so). For a long time, it was not possible to plan your content in advance on Instagram. And even if you can do so now, you can only do that by using a third party app such as Buffer or Hootsuite. My point being, Instagram wants people to post directly from their phone. They want people to capture what’s happening in their lives and for them to spontaneously post it on their site. It has always been difficult and not so reliable for social media managers to plan on their content and to get decent Instagram analytics. Instagram is clearly not making it easy for social media managers. Overall, we can say that Instagram is making sure that their platform is made for spontaneous content and for people to interact between each others. They’re clearly making it hard for brands to communicate with their audience.
In that sense, it would be understandable that Instagram is promoting more and more their stories features. Stories are pretty direct: you record what’s happening in front of you, you tweak it with some built in filters or geotags or whatever and you post it on the platform. Instagram stories are still the only part of Instagram that has not been totally taken over by content professionals. The story content is mostly spontaneous and mainly focused on storytelling rather than image quality.
Stories aren’t ruled by a complex algorithm yet, that means that the kind of content that is posted or the time when it is posted at does not have an influence on the performance of the story. This is putting less pressure on marketers. It’s also making them use stories more when they’re not sure if a piece of content is worth sharing as a post — because so many details can interfere with the reach of an Instagram publication, it can seriously take time to make sure you’re not going to ruin your reach on this specific post which will make your data and statistics look bad for a couple days — which is making stories more and more popular from regular users to social media marketers.
Stories get easier to interact with.
Stories are super easy to consume and super easy to connect with.
When you start looking at someone’s story, Instagram is making you watch all the content of this specific profile. Then, it’s making you watch stories of other accounts. When you start to look at stories, you’re just accessing a big amount of content that Instagram is going to automatically show to you until there’s not content left to see. You have nothing to do here, you just consume content and sometimes click on the right side of the screen to zap to the next one. It requires more effort to stop watching stories than to continue to. You have no need to swipe or whatever, you just watch! You can also reply to the content you’re watching super easily: just one click at the bottom of the screen and you can instantly reply to what you just saw. If you don’t have the energy to type or if you don’t want to commit and engage this much with the content, you can just send an emoji.
The amount of efforts the users need to make to consume content and engage with it is so small! It’s getting easier and easier for users to get distracted using Instagram. There’s no need to scroll through a — non chronological — feed anymore. They can just click on a story and endlessly consume content. For Instagram, this is way better than a chronological newsfeed! People spend more time than ever on the app! That’s a lot more data than what they already had thanks to the newsfeed. Stories are also a new way for businesses to promote their new products or their business. Instagram has basically developed a new app within its original app! That means double the money.
As social media sites always like to remember: they aim to bring the world closer together and Instagram stories totally fit in that mission statement. Stories are spontaneous, they focus on telling a story rather than showcasing great quality content and it is easier for users to consume and to engage with them. Overall, stories are a fantastic way for Instagram to break the image it had before when marketers took over the platform and when newsfeeds were full of professional shots and captions were full of hashtag optimisations.
Instagram will become a stories platform.
In the beginning, Instagram was about taking a shot, putting a built-in filter on it and post it to the platform using 30 hashtags to make sure to get the most likes possible. But right now, more and more people are using private accounts, hashtags aren’t as powerful as they used to be, the algorithm makes it difficult to get your content out there if you’re not deeply invested in your Instagram strategy, and more recently, Instagram added the possibility to add certain people to a more closer friend group just so you can share specific stories with them. Instagram is almost bringing groups to their site. Just like Facebook groups, that are more and more powerful and important in a Facebook strategy. We’re not there yet, but it can be something happening in the near future.
Instagram is trying to break the professional and marketing touch the app was getting in the last years. Instagram seems to be focusing on groups of friends that interact together. And they do so using stories. Businesses need to consider stories more. They need to use stories, they need to go back to the roots of social media by being social. They need to break their one way communication from their business to their clients to a more mutual communication by interacting with their audience through Instagram stories and by replying to the people that reach to them!
Instagram stories are a fantastic opportunities for businesses and marketers. Instagram is clearly making their stories more and more popular and the development teams are clearly focusing on this aspect of the app. Businesses and marketers should totally use them before the story market also gets super saturated, probably in months. But for now, people keep on fighting about a chronological newsfeed, they’re not seeing the potential of Instagram stories yet.
There’s an opportunity for your business and for your marketing strategy! You should start planning for your 2019 Instagram stories strategy right now! Before everyone has theirs figured out!
Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.
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