It’s no secret that the people and communities on Instagram are what defines it. In order to get a clearer picture of how people use it, Facebook IQ recently surveyed a group of experts: nearly 10,000 people in Brazil, Indonesia, the UK and the US ages 13–55 who use Instagram at least once a week. The research revealed that people perceive and use Instagram Feed and Instagram Stories in different ways—knowledge that could help marketers fine-tune their cross-platform campaigns.
These days, more than half of Instagrammers globally use stories as well as feed on a daily basis. Both products enable people and businesses to view, create and share photos and videos, but there are some key differences.

Across all four countries, people strongly see both Instagram Stories and Instagram Feed as visually beautiful places. But people also tend to associate each with different use cases. For instance, they’re more likely to say they visit stories to see live, unfiltered content. On the other hand, they’re more likely to say they go to feed for a broader range of reasons, the most common of which are to find information and discover products and brands.

Based on these findings, a marketer might use feed to introduce people to or share updates on a brand or product, and stories to engage them more deeply through real-time, authentic content.

What’s the appeal of stories?

Though Instagram Stories launched less than two years ago, there are already more than 300 million daily active accounts globally. To understand the reasons for this rapid rise, the focus was set on what people value about the product.
Many people indicated strong agreement with the idea that stories have improved their communication with friends and family. Some said that they appreciate the fact that content disappears within 24 hours unless saved, and that the format helps them to be more authentic. More than 1 in 3 said that they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Instagram Stories.

While the results were strong in all four countries, they were especially pronounced in Brazil and Indonesia. Those were also the two countries for which the stated activity on stories was the highest among the four countries surveyed. As stories activity rises in the UK and the US, similar sentiment is expected in those countries as well.

Instagram-Stories-Infographic

What do people most strongly associate with stories and feed?

In the study, a lot of overlap was found about people’s associations with Instagram Stories and feed. Surveyed people strongly perceive both as visually beautiful, creative destinations that facilitate freedom of expression.

But there were also a few regional distinctions. People in Brazil tend to associate stories and feed with uplifting content, for instance, which could mean encouraging quotes and inspiring images and videos. People in Indonesia associate stories with authentic content, perhaps because stories often consist of live, unedited glimpses behind the scenes. And people in the UK associate stories with expression of passion, which might be because the format offers an extensive palette of whimsical creative tools.

When do people use stories and feed?

When asked people to opt for either Instagram Stories or Instagram Feed for a range of objectives, it was found that on average across four countries, people more often turn to stories than feed in just two situations. The first is when they want to see what friends are doing at the moment, which indicates that stories function as a way to bring people closer together in real time. The second is when they want to see unfiltered, authentic content—which could mean everyday moments or even “non-moments.” In all countries except Indonesia, people also more often turn to stories than feed for a third reason: to see playful, funny content.

Perhaps because Instagram Feed is more familiar and has been used much longer, people opted for it over Instagram Stories for a greater number and range of use cases. The top were to find information and discover products and brands.

What types of content do people value most in stories and feed?

The fact that people tend to opt for feed over stories to discover products and brands doesn’t mean that people don’t want to see content from brands in stories. In fact, when surveyed people about stories and feed independently and compared the results, the results showed that people in Brazil, the US and UK placed a higher value on content related to brands or products in stories than in feed. (The only type of content people in Indonesia valued more in stories was content that lets them show their authentic selves.) It seems that while people strongly associate discovery of brands and products with feed, they also appreciate the ability to see brand- and product-related content in stories.

When it comes to feed over stories, people in the US and UK prioritize content that helps them connect to family and friends and get a glimpse of their lives, discover new things about their passions and hobbies and connect to others who share their interests. And in Brazil and Indonesia, people indicate that content that shows them destinations they dream about visiting is more important in feed than in stories.

What it means for marketers

  1. Tell your story.
    Many people surveyed say stories have improved the way they communicate. Consider experimenting with adding stories to your next Instagram campaign, and check out these case studies for inspiration.
  2. Fulfill expectations.
    While stories and feed have much in common, people associate different experiences with each. Keep these expectations in mind when thinking about what content to share on each channel. For instance, marketers might share live, authentic-feeling moments in stories, and capture timeless content for people to discover anytime in their feed.
  3. Cater to your market.
    People in different markets expect to see different types of content in stories and feed. Deliver on these desires by examining each market’s most powerful associations with the platforms and tailoring your planning accordingly.
  4. Keep creative considerations in mind.
    To help marketers create more compelling Instagram Stories ads, Facebook IQ commissioned MetrixLab to conduct studies of 30 US Instagram Stories ads from CPG brands. They found that strategies such as including branding early, moving quickly from scene to scene and including product demos made stories ads more effective.

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