Instagram Stories

Republished with permission from Jessica Smith,

Last week Instagram rolled out Stories. The feature is essentially an imitation of Snapchat. Users get to string together photos and videos that appear in a slideshow format and disappear after 24 hours. Stories do not appear on your profile grid or in the feed.

This seems like an easy opportunity to leverage Instagram Stories like Snapchat; a raw, first-hand perspective. There’s actually a huge opportunity to differentiate how brands and teams use Instagram Stories from Snapchat Stories though. Below are three thought starters on Instagram Stories, with some best-in-class examples from teams and brands:

It’s not about function, but about audience.

These tools and platforms are not about function alone, but also about the audience. The natural inclination is to leverage Instagram Stories like we do Snapchat Stories, but think about the audience.

Brands and branded content (done right of course) has been largely more accepted on Instagram than on Snapchat. People flock for raw, first-hand perspective on Snapchat. On Instagram, people flock for great visual and interesting, dynamic content. This opens up the door for doing something different on Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories. It does not have to be about the same raw, first-hand perspective.

As you start to brainstorm content for Instagram Stories, don’t think about the function alone. Think about your users and the content they crave. While Snapchat and Instagram tools might be very similar, the way audiences currently use them are different. Think audience, not function.

Take advantage of the upload feature.

One of the main advantages of Instagram Stories that allows us to think outside the selfie for content, is the ability to upload pre-existing content. This feature opens up a door of opportunity that Snapchat does not allow.

I would compare Instagram Stories more to Snapchat Discover than Snapchat Stories. The ability to upload existing content means that brands and teams can create dynamic programming through Stories. Video work, graphic work, animations, etc. can all be a part of your Instagram Stories. And, since the audience expects content from brands, this polished content will probably be more widely accepted on Instagram Stories versus Snapchat.

Do not waste time with Instagram Stories by sharing players running on and off the field over and over again. The upload feature gives you the ability to do something different. Take advantage of it. 

Find synergies between your standard post and Stories.

It would be easy to separate your approach to your standard Instagram post and Stories, but there’s an opportunity to find synergies. How can you drive people from your post to your Story and vice versa? Red Bull, for example, leveraged Instagram Stories to have users pick their favorite photo to be used a post.

There are other opportunities here too. If you have a compelling emotional photo as a standard post, can you use Instagram Stories as a function to tell the more in-depth story through video? If you have a picture of one of your players working out, can you use stories to give insight on what exactly the workout was for the day? Find a way to have your post and stories synch up in harmony. They don’t always have to live together, but there’s an opportunity to use them both to drive more consumption of your content.

There are a lot of lessons and insights to still be gained with Instagram Stories, but at first glance, there’s definitely a big opportunity here.

Jessica Smith is a Social Media Content & Community Manager at Under Armour and Business Insider's 30 Best People in Advertising to Follow on Twitter. Jessica is a good friend and advocate of South Street Co. Follow her online at