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Instagram Stories: A Familiar Feature

Instagram Stories is a new feature that allows users to take photos and short videos and add them to a personal slideshow. Anyone with an account can post as much as they want to their own photo and video feed and each one disappears after 24 hours.

Sound familiar? It should. Stories has been a staple feature on Snapchat since 2013 and it’s the most effective free place for brands to provide content to followers on the app.

Whether or not Instagram blatantly copied the feature from Snapchat will be endlessly debated, but it shouldn’t matter to brands– they should be celebrating. Instagram Stories gives brands a chance to create valuable video content on a platform that’s more natural for businesses of all sizes.

Brands Want to Tell Stories

Businesses of all shapes and sizes crave an opportunity to add a human element to their marketing. Snapchat Stories opened the door for brands to do just that. Snapchat users can add brands and get an update beamed to their Stories tab every time a brand adds a photo or video.

Snapchat Stories has served as a home for bakeries that want to show off special batches of donuts, media companies that want to give a behind-the-scenes look at the office, and small businesses that are really good at Nerf basketball trick shots.

And the 24-hour disappearing act means there’s an opportunity for fresh content every single day. The feature has plenty of potential, but getting users to follow brands on Snapchat is difficult.

Some Brands Feel out of Place on Snapchat

Snapchat is less of a social network and more of a messaging app. It’s easy for users to follow their friends– most can be added through phone number. A brand has to be sought out by username, and their account usually has to be promoted through other channels.

The Snapchat ad platform is also very unique. Snapchat Ads is mostly catered towards providing high quality content directly to users. Other niche options, like buying a Geofilter or sponsored lens, aren’t for every business. These advertising options are pricy and aren’t very practical for small businesses (although prices are reportedly dropping).

On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, small businesses thrive on cold introductions in newsfeeds to get users through a sales funnel. Unfortunately, Snapchat doesn’t have those options.

Instagram Makes it Easy to Reach Cold Audiences

Instagram is a Facebook company. That deal gave Instagram pages the opportunity to advertise through Facebook’s mighty advertising platform: Facebook Ads.

Objectives for paid advertising on Instagram include boosting posts, website clicks, app installs, video views, and more. Add the vast targeting options provided by Facebook Ads and brands have the potential to put sponsored content in just about any user’s timeline.

And while Instagram Stories is a feature that users only see if they follow an account, there’s plenty of potential for brands to get an introduction through an advertisement. That means users are just a few simple clicks away from seeing a brand’s Story.

With Instagram Stories, More Brands Can Join In on the Fun

“Today, we’re introducing Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile,” says the introduction to the feature on the Instagram blog.

For brands, Instagram Stories offers a new world of marketing potential. For some businesses, especially small ones, it may be their first opportunity to access the feature and provide it to their followers.

Time will tell how Snapchat responds to this new Instagram update. Perhaps the young messaging app will roll out more advertising options, making it easier for brands to pay to reach users.

But, for now, Instagram Stories means that a party once exclusive to Snapchat is happening a few apps over on smartphones all around the world.