The Beginning:

When Instagram first launched stories, in August 2016, it had a lot of people
thinking they had seen it all before. At first sight, stories made Instagram
seem cluttered and overwhelming. Though Instagram stories faced a lot of
backlash in the beginning, it is now an extremely popular feature of the app and
has since surpassed the expectations most people originally had for it.
Instagram stories have helped to bridge the gap between users and their
followers by allowing for two-way conversation. Instagram stories quickly became
the newest trend because of the many customizable features that they had to
offer. Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Snapchat and hello to the
idea of a combined platform consisting of Instagram and stories.

Slow but Steady:

Slowly but surely people began to start utilizing the new story feature on
Instagram. As macro and micro influencers began to hop on the Instagram story
trend, so did the average Instagram user. Instagram stories give both businesses
and the average user the opportunity to show a more day to day/ behind the
scenes version of their lives, and show something that isn’t necessarily perfect
enough to remain permanent on their profile. Stories allow for a great way to
remain active, without overwhelming your followers feeds with clutter. It is
because of the many distinguishing features that Instagram stories provided that
made the new extension of the Instagram app so successful.

Engagement features:

Picture2

One of the best features for businesses that Instagram stories offer is the
amount of engagement tools stories provide. (see previous article for more on
engagement
)
For stories specifically, Instagram offers the poll, question, scale, and music
features. Each of these allow people to somehow click on your story and engage
with it. The poll and question features are a great way for businesses to help
learn more about their followers by asking them questions and allowing them to
provide a response. The scale feature can be used to allow followers to rate
different posts. Although the music feature is less business oriented, it’s
still a great way to make your Instagram story more unique and personalized.
Micro-influencers are huge on engagement tools. Features like the scale tool and
questions help them to interact with their followers all while helping to
promote products. Stories also present a way for the influencers to publically
“haul” all of the PR packages they get from brands. Doing this is beneficial to
both parties because brands obviously want to get their name out there and
increase awareness. Finally, you can often find influencers posting previews of
new posts on their stories to drive traffic to their profiles and alert their
following about their new content.

Swipe up:

IMG_3321

The ability to “swipe up” on an Instagram story is a key component to the way
that influencers can use the feature. When their followers swipe up on a
specific story, they will be directed straight to the product the influencer is
promoting. This feature is so fundamental because brands working with these
influencers have the ability to see how many people were brought to their site
from that one influencer. Or say an influencer is commission based, it will
automatically track what purchases were bought under that person’s link and pay
them out accordingly. Many influencers also just use it as a quick and effective
way to link an exact product for their followers. Unfortunately, the swipe up
feature is only available to users with 10K+ followers. Hopefully someday
Instagram will change this feature to make it more accessible to everyone.

Highlights:

At the end of 2017, Instagram launched a new feature that really changed the way
people looked at stories. Instead of having stories last only 24 hours,
highlights allowed users to save their stories and have them forever displayed
on their profile. Many use them as a way to organize their stories. For example,
a health and fitness influencer may use them as a way to group together healthy
recipes in one highlight, and a bunch of exercises in another highlight. A
beauty influencer may use their highlights to divide their makeup looks into one
category, and maybe an brand sponsored vacation in another. (see more on brand
sponsored vacations
here
)

Both highlights and stories have really helped benefit the Instagram community
by opening up a more authentic conversation between influencers and their
following.