Social media has become an increasingly important platform for any B2B or for brand awareness today, perhaps most reputably: Instagram. Instagram’s CEO has set the bottom line their goals are to win the stories war with Snapchat.
What we are experiencing in front of our eyes is a unique presentation of media where anything and everything is possible. It is a place where a personal account and business presence can comingle and have a conversation. According to Instagram, 1 in 3 of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses. Instagram has provided a great opportunity for companies to reach more people and gain a following. Among the many features available, Instagram feed and Instagram stories are the most commonly used. Awareness of a business can be cultivated if these two opportunities are used effectively. From a business point of the view, we are going to explore the similarities and differences between Instagram feed vs Instagram stories? How should you utilize them? What are the pros and cons of each?
- A feed consists of content scrolled through when browsing Instagram.
- Posts can be in the form of a theme, pictures, videos, boomerangs (looped mini-videos), carousels (content that contains multiple images and/or videos), ads, promos, and trends.
- Posts can be liked or commented on by any user account (as long as your profile is public).
- Once posted, the picture or video will remain on their profile until the post is deleted or archived (hiding that particular post from public view).
- Post photos can be shown on Instagram’s categories Discover/Explore Page, which is a page tailored to each Instagram user that compiles content that Instagram thinks you’ll like based on similar content you’ve liked before, who you follow already, and other components of an intricate algorithm.
- If a video is posted, it will show up on your Instagram feed with the sound off. The observer will only be able to hear your video if he or she has their sound setting on already or chooses to unmute your video.
Most users, brands, and companies put more effort into their posts compared to their Instagram stories. This is mostly due to the permanence of content compared to short-lived and lower costs.
- A photo or videos that are uploaded from a profile page or video editor and compiled into a slideshow or reel format.
- These stories can be viewed by anyone if your profile is a public account.
- All stories are viewed on phones in a full-screen vertical orientation.
- Each Instagram story can be up to 15 seconds. If a video is posted as a story and is longer than 15 seconds, it can be divided into 15-second increments.
- Unlike Instagram posts on your feed, which are permanent (unless archived or deleted), Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours.
Stories can be viewed at the top of the user’s Instagram feed. Users who you follow who have posted a story will show up in a line of circles in chronological order starting with the most recently updated story. Stories can then be swiped or tapped through by the spectator. They can also be skipped or paused.
- Data such as the number of users who have watched your story and their account username can be collected.
- If the creator would like their stories to be saved and viewed after the time span is up, Instagram stories can be compiled and categorized into Highlights that are shown on the poster’s Instagram profile. Multiple stories can be put into one Highlight folder, which effectively turns it into a slideshow book. Each Highlight folder can be named and the previously posted IG stories can then be sorted into the creator’s preferred Highlight folder. After the stories are put in the Highlight folder, the “seen” lists and view counts won’t be available after 48 hours.
- There is a “Close Friends” feature where you can add specific followers to a special list. When you post a story, you can choose for it to be seen by everyone or only by people on your Close Friends list.
- Instagram stories are showcased on the Explore/Discover page, but to a much lesser frequency due to the algo.
- Stories are known to be more casual compared to Instagram feed.
- Posts are a commitment toward content, whereas stories disappear and short-lived and don’t need as much effort.
- Instagram stories are geared more toward existing followers vs only targeting existing followers but also have high discoverability to new audiences. This is partly due to the lack of stories on the Discover/Explore page and partly due to IG stories being displayed on the top page of existing followers.
Stories do not count as posts on Instagram. Instagram stories are no longer available after 24 hours unless added to the creator’s Instagram users page’s Highlights. Stories do not show up on the Instagram feed, however, they do show up with the other stories above the feed.
Posting on Instagram and showing up on people’s IG feed have their pros and cons when comparing it to an Instagram story.
Here are some of the main features that set them apart from Instagram stories:
- Many companies use quality Instagram posts to build a following, create awareness, or provoke thought or position themselves against the competition. When new clients or customers browse a company’s Instagram profile for the first time, they see a grid formation of all the recent posts. Almost no one watches the business’s Instagram story first.
- The caption of an Instagram post is a unique feature that is not available for Instagram stories. Captions can be up to 2,200 characters. The possibilities of the information in a caption are endless and need to be used effectively. The caption is what your audience and potential clients will be reading to learn about you. It can contain information and/or hashtags.
- Posts can include specific hashtags in the caption (e.g. #outfitoftheday #ootd #lifestyle #casualstyle #fashion). These hashtags allow the post to be discovered by people who follow the hashtag. This differs from IG stories, which generally do not have as much of an opportunity to be discovered using hashtags due to its limited availability for viewing.
- Unlike Instagram stories, posts can include a location tag. When you tag a location on Instagram in a post, it shows up in that user’s “Tagged Posts” section on their profile. Secondly, tagging a location (or geolocation tagging) allows people who are browsing that location or who have posted at the same location to discover your post easier.
- Instagram feed is organized algorithmically, not chronologically. This can be an asset to some and a hindrance to others. The exact mechanisms of Instagram’s algorithm are not known, yet evidence has shown that if a post has high engagement (likes, comments, etc.) in the first hour it has been posted, it is more likely to become a top post in more of your follower’s feeds. If your initial audience is responsive to your post, it will be prioritized as a popular post and have more visibility at the top of their feed for a longer period of time. However, this algorithmic-based ordering can be a struggle for businesses and companies who are new to Instagram due to the challenge of becoming a relevant post without having a lot of engagement yet.
- An Instagram feed allows likes and commentaries. However, some underestimate the value these numbers carry by benefitting your brand’s reputation and expanding the account’s audience. A post’s quantity of likes and comments is displayed publically and can be seen by any user who views the post. This is different than Instagram stories, where any reactions and/or responses are privately messaged or delivered to the person who uploaded it, meaning they are private. If your business’s Instagram has a large following and your posts are popular, this can influence how successful your brand is perceived by others.
Here are some unique points that come with an Instagram story that you can’t get by on your Instagram feed:
- Instagram stories are great for B2b for promoting or announcing things like events, sales, contests, and other things that are time-sensitive.
- Stories are not a good place to display a bunch of content. Not only will it expire in 24 hours, but stories are also only played in 15-second increments. Although there is a pause button, most viewers do not want to read an entire paragraph in less than 15 seconds. Stories should be limited to a sentence or less.
- If you have important information to share with your fans, Instagram stories are usually played with the sound on, unlike Instagram feed videos, which are usually muted unless specifically selected to play with sound. This provides a great way for brands to publish video announcements, interviews, or other verbal promotions that are best played with the sound on.
- IG stories allow you to collect data and metrics that involve the views you receive on your stories. You can experiment by posting at different times of day and days of the week. You can try different styles or content for your story. Analysis can be conducted to determine what times or types of stories generate the greatest amount of viewers and therefore appeal the most. If your Instagram story has multiple segments, people tend to experience a downward trend in the number of viewers as your story progresses. Experiments involving retention can be very helpful to find out which stories are interesting enough to captivate your audience and have them continue watching. Remember to gather this data in a timely manner. After 48 hours the viewer lists and seen counts won’t be available.
- There is also a great opportunity for engagement by using the story option. You can create polls and ask questions to get actual responses from your fans. You can ask your participants which out of the two options they prefer more and it will be displayed as a percentage bar. Or, you can ask a question and your fans can type a response that will show up in your direct inbox. Audience interaction not only helps your discoverability and the IG algo that promotes your bio to new users but also creates trust between consumers and companies, creating an approachable brand.
- Unlike a feed, stories have a convenient swipe up option, which directs to an external website, landing page or app such as a Facebook page, a website that sells a product, or a blog post.
- Stories can be used to refer viewers to other user’s stories and/or posts. By reposting another user’s story on their own IG story, more views can be generated for that particular story (although these insights cannot be attained without contacting the reposter). By featuring another user’s Instagram feed post on your story, there is a “Tap to see post” feature where that can be clicked and be led to that person’s post. These reposts provide opportunities to collaborate with other users, support other brands, and foster partnerships.
- Feedback for your IG story is made easy by allowing replies and reactions. There are quick reactions that send an emoji (such as crying laughing face, shocked face, heart eyes face, crying face, clapping, fire, celebration, and 100) as a direct message to the creator. You can also send a text response. Although this is a good feature that allows a response, it is only one-on-one, whereas likes and comments are public knowledge that everyone can see.
- By using “@username”, you can add mentions of other Instagram users in your story. This will provide the viewer with a direct route to the mentioned person’s main page with a tap of the screen. If an influencer or other well-followed person were to mention your business or brand, it would likely generate some new followers.
- Besides polls and questions, there is also a countdown sticker where users can be notified of the status of the clock as it ticks closer to the end and share the countdown on their own story. This could be the start of a sale, event, live stream, etc.
- Quizzes can be a fun way to get your fans involved. The quizzes are extremely customizable and can vary in the variations of potential answers. There are even quiz question prompts if you need some ideas.
- The number of segments in your story will just elongate the length of your story, not increase the number of separate stories. This is useful and prevents overposting on your feed. By adding to your story, you can continue the flow of news to your consumers without blowing up and taking over their entire Instagram feed.
- Stories can be customized and artistically enhanced, unlike feeds. Numerous fonts and font colors are available for text and a pencil option with many color choices that can be used for drawing. There are stickers, GIFs, and geotags to resize and place strategically to create an aesthetically pleasing story. These decorative features can be adorned on both images and videos.
- Companies have taken numerous casual approaches for what content they use in their story content such as a day in a life or vlog approach, sneak peeks of new clothing lines or products, exciting announcements, behind the scenes footage or an inside look, contest details, short interviews, or celebrity or influencer takeovers. The opportunities are endless!
- Another pro about IG stories: If your business is new to Instagram and doesn’t have an extensive following yet, you don’t have to worry about the Instagram algo failing to show your content on people’s feeds. IG stories are displayed on the top of the home feed and separated by already seen and unseen stories. This has a chronological order rather than an algorithmic order, which is beneficial for accounts just starting out.
The age of social media is upon us and if you’re not taking steps to leverage Instagram for your B2B services or to build your brand and directing traffic to a landing page, you’ll be left behind companies who are using it and gaining exponential growth rate. The time to be social media marketing is now! Whether it’s posting on your Instagram feed or creating stories that disappear after 24 hours, there are pros and cons to both of these methods when getting the word out about your business. Just remember to tailor your content toward your target audience. Different age groups and different demographics are more drawn to certain displays of information. Your Instagram feed is your first impression whereas your Instagram stories can be used to keep audiences engaged and interested in what you have to say. It’s more useful to think of the feed and story feature as complementary to one another. Using both features is a great way to create a holistic image of what your company, business, or brand represents. Hopefully, this article helped you differentiate between Instagram feed vs Instagram stories.