Instagram stories were launched three months ago to quite a bit of anger as users blasted the platform for pretty much ripping off Snapchat completely in any way you can think of.
However, Instagram does have a more polished and refined experience as well as discoverability and organic reach built right in to the platform and that is a big boost over Snapchat.
If there is one thing that brands don’t like about Snapchat is that organic reach can be hard to come by and unless you are a partner to the platform – discoverability in the app itself is non existent.
The big question many of us had had since Instagram launched stories has been, ‘how will they distance themselves from Snapchat in their own way?’ and finally they have started to do just that and I have to say, I’m very very impressed with the moves they are making.
Instagram is clearly going after what Snapchat has failed to implement and that is a big thing because it means Instagram is appealing to the big brands and businesses.
Last week, Instagram launched mentions, links and Boomerang integration into their stories. The result is that the product feels so much better than before, it feels like its own entity and it feels distinct from Snapchat for the first time.
It is the biggest update to Instagram stories since the product launched and from right now two of the three features are available to everyone. Mentions and Boomerang integration will be available when you update the app to the latest version.
For now, links, which will allow users to attach hyperlinks to individual Instagram stories, will only be available to verified users. When they finally roll links out to the public it will be a big deal because for publishers, brands and content creators, this has been one of the big Snapchat hurdles.
Snapchat does not recognise links and so there is no way to allow users to click on a link in Snapchat and be taken to an outbound website such as your blog or YouTube. Links in Instagram stories mean that users will be able to click on a link when viewing a story and be taken to that website straight away.
It is the first time that links will be allowed anywhere beyond the user profile on Instagram. Nathan Sharp, Instagram product manager, told The Verge that the decision to add links to stories was made in response to a large number of brands using the feature to promote content there.
To use the mentions tool in stories simply start typing and use the @ symbol at the start to bring up a tray of contacts. You can tag them in the story and they will be notified with a direct message on Instagram. The mention will be underlined in the story but interestingly if you resize and make it either too big or small then the mention feature vanishes.
This can help you discover new accounts on the Instagram platform and allows you to highlight a person or a brand. Boomerang has also been incorporated into stories. Boomerang is Instagram’s standalone app which makes 1.5 second looping videos.
In stories you simply activate the boomerang option and tap to create a burst of five photos which then plays on a loop.
The updates to Instagram stories clearly appeal to the creators, publishers and marketers out there. While many people in this bracket have been debating which platform to use for their own gain and to help grow their presence and content it seems as if Instagram is making all the right moves at the moment.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Instagram continues to grow their story platform but if you ask me which one I prefer to use at the moment? Instagram. Which one is getting better reach to new users? Instagram. Which platform has the better performing data for us? Instagram.
Right now, everything is pointing to Instagram.