Instagram has been going in hard on stories and has updates the product over the past number of weeks. The have introduced the ability to live stream as well as their own take on stickers and geo-filters using those stickers.
The have also introduced the ability to go hands free in stories and have incorporated Boomerang into stories too. Clearly the hard work must be paying off, Instagram announced last week that there are more than 150 million people using stories every day.
So regardless of whether you love them or hate them for copying Snapchat, people are certainly using the stories tool. To give some context here, there are more people using Instagram stories every day than there is using Pinterest and LinkedIn every month.
Interestingly, 150 million daily users is the same as the number Snapchat gave though that was back in June. It would be interesting to see what Snapchat’s numbers are like at the moment with stories so maybe we will hear something from them soon.
Either way, Instagram is pushing on and last week they announced two new ways they are growing the stories platform that are very business focused – ads between stories and stories insight metrics.
Ads between stories
Lets start by looking at what could potentially cause user frustration here. Ads will be a new addition that will run between some stories. They will be full screen and won’t interrupt the middle of a story you are in. Here is an example of an AirBnB ad on Instagram stories.
Ads in stories? Yuck! Cue the anger! We all hate ads right? Well, not actually true. We hate ads that suck shit and that take away from our time. Creative ads with great content we don’t actually mind as much.
Snapchat was testing a similar feature earlier in the year before they decided to remove the auto-advance in between their stories. Ads on Instagram stories will be limited to 15 seconds in length and will be marked “sponsor” at the bottom.
Users will be able to skip through the ads, you won’t be forced to sit there and watch. You will be able to skip in the same way you can skip through stories at the moment by tapping the screen on the right.
In reality it is a minor intrusion for users and if the ads are created well and are of a high quality and well targeted then they could be a nice addition. What is interesting to note however is the ads are not clickable. So if you are watching an ad for Nike trainers, there will be no way of clicking on it to be taken to the Nike site should you wish to find out more.
In order to make sure that the execution is on point of Instagram stories ads, they are testing with a small group of 30 clients such as AirBnB, Nike, Netflix and others. It will be a shot to Snapchats brand viability however we know that at the moment Snapchat is working on their own ad tools. The question now is can Instagram beat them to it and do it well?
Snapchat for businesses and brands has become important over the past year however Instagram stories has certainly taken a slice of the pie away and Instagram have been demonstrating over the past number of months how much they value brands on the platform, something Snapchat has somewhat struggled with as they have wanted to maintain the friends and fun identity without dabbling too much in businesses.
Stories insight metrics
One of the features of business profiles last year that I love are the insight metrics. Instagram have got it right too, their insights are incredibly useful. So I can jump right into my profile now with today being Monday and tell you instantly that the best time for me to make my three Instagram posts are 11am, 3pm and 7pm.
Between 6am and 10:30 am the number of my followers online are pretty low compared to the rest of the day and between 3:30pm to 4:30pm they drop off a little but before coming back up again around 5pm.
1.5 million profiles have switched to a business account and now stories insights will be added to the data. Again, this is a bit of a hit to Snapchat. One of the things that brands and businesses have been crying about is the lack of data on Snapchat. It can be hard to get real data on how well Snapchat content is doing.
You could use a third party tool but there is no way of measuring data natively. Instagram stories insights will tell you how many impressions you have, what your reach is like, what the reply engagement is like and data on when people are exiting your story.
That level of integration is sure to win over many marketers and businesses who want to jump into storytelling but are still holding back because they are afraid of not being able to quantify in numbers how good or not they are doing with storytelling tactics.
It all comes down to who you are targeting but with 600 million monthly users and 150 million daily users on stories, Instagram is making a good case on why you should bet on them.