Social Media Influencers React to Instagram Stories
September 1, 2016
Instagram Stories launched just a few weeks ago and already influencers are flocking to the platform. Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Influencers love Snapchat because they can foster a personal connection with followers by sharing irreverent, un-staged, behind-the-scenes content.
But when it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram Stories provides something Snapchat doesn't: a ready-made audience. Most influencers already have a lot of followers on Instagram, so their Stories get automatic exposure to a large audience.
I talked to a few key influencers about how they're using Instagram Stories, what they like and dislike about the new platform, and whether Stories can supplant the king of ephemeral content, Snapchat.
Instagram Stories Is Convenient
"Instagram Stories is really convenient," says top fashion bloggerJessica Ricks. "Instagram followers are more likely to watch a story than in the past when they had to go to a different app [Snapchat] to see something similar. In general, I've found Instagram Stories gets more views than Snapchat."
Leading fitness blogger Remi Ishizuka agrees that Instagram Stories is easy to use because it's an extension of the larger Instagram platform.
The convenience and simplicity of Instagram Stories has even encouraged some influencers to use it almost exclusively over Snapchat.
"We prefer using Instagram stories, says Dominick Scott and Luca Marra, publishers of Visuals of Earth and Visuals of Life, two Instagram pages that aspire photographers to be bold and explore the world. "We have over 225,000 followers, so It's easier for someone to simply click within an app that's already being used rather than exiting out and opening a new one such as Snapchat."
"As the days and weeks have gone by, I've found myself not using Snapchat anymore," says photographer Sam Ciurdar. "Instagram Stories is just simpler in the sense that it's all in one app."
For Now, Snapchat Is More Personal
Instagram Stories may win when it comes to convenience, but Snapchat still has the edge when it comes to engaging followers with fun, unscripted content.
Ricks says she still uses Snapchat to connect with her followers because its "general vibe is more casual", whereas Instagram Stories seems to (like its parent) demand more stylized and curated content. She expects Instagram Stories will add filters and location tags soon, making it more similar to Snapchat. It remains to be seen, she says, whether Stories will ever feel as "un-staged" as Snapchat does, but for now she'll use both.
"I still love Snapchat and put more effort into updating it every day than I do Instagram Stories," says Ishizuka. "I've built a connection with my Snapchat viewers over time and it just feels more like a conversation, whereas I don't feel like I'm 'connecting' when I publish Instagram stories yet...this could change over time though."
On Snapchat, Ishizuka shares behind-the-scenes images of her life – "with no makeup, sweaty, being goofy, with friends, whatever it is that makes me ME," she says. She'll often post play-by-play images of her day on Snapchat, such as her walk to the gym, her workouts, sweaty selfies, funny videos, or making a protein shake. However, she only posts "important stuff" on Instagram Stories.
Many influencers I spoke to echoed these sentiments – thatInstagram Stories are easy to use and get more views than Snapchat, but Snapchat feels more "raw" and authentic and drives better engagement, especially with younger followers.
However, engagement comes in many forms, and at least one influencer marketing expert I spoke to says he believes Instagram Stories will do a great job of increasing engagement in the future.
"We love the messaging component to Instagram Stories, which allows followers to engage influencers in a conversation," says Sae Cho, Manager of Influencer Strategy at Horizon Media, one of the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. "While Snapchat allows snapbacks, Instagram Stories' text-based messaging allows for quick response and communication from fans. Influencers we're talking to see it too, with hundreds and thousands of responses to their Instagram stories within minutes."
Casual vs. Curated
Instagram Stories and Snapchat will continue to go head-to-head to woo influencers to their platforms, and it remains to be seen which one becomes more valuable to influencers and the marketers that reach audiences through them. But one thing is clear: instant, gritty, real, unscripted social content is the future. Instagram Stories and Snapchat both offer influencers the opportunity to connect with fans daily in an authentic way. Whereas Instagram is all about creating beautiful, highly retouched and curated photos, Stories is about sharing behind-the-scenes snapshots, raw footage, and images of daily life.
"Instagram Stories forces people to think more from the creative side than Instagam does," says professional surfer Anastasia Ashley. "There are a lot of people who can take a nice picture, but not a lot of people who can tell a story. I think the influencers who can tell stories will really be able to shine on Instagram Stories."
In the end, influencer marketing is all about trust. Consumers trust the influencers they follow to provide lifestyle and product recommendations, so any platform that helps influencers more honestly and authentically connect with their fans will go a long way in establishing this trust.
Both Snapchat and Instagram Stories will undoubtedly become key platforms for influencer marketing. "If people can see that not everything is always a glitzy staged performance then they can relate more to what's being promoted," says Ciurdar. "A behind-the-scenes look at a brand – such as showing the raw moments behind the scenes of a product I'm shooting – can create a real connection; customers won't look at your brand as just a hat, a backpack, or a shirt – but as something they connect with on a personal level."
"Social Media Influencers React to Instagram Stories." Kyle Wong, CEO at Pixlee, 8/24/16.
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