Instagram’s latest platform update, ‘Stories’, which allows users to upload temporary photos and videos, has caused a burst of online debate this week. While users argue about how close in likeness Instagram’s new feature is to Snapchat, Gorkana investigates how useful these changes are for PR.
This Tuesday (2 August), Instagram announced via blogpost that the platform will now allow users to share images and videos that do not remain on their profile after 24 hours. Users had previously only been able to upload static imagery on the social platform.
The blogpost said Instagram Stories is “a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.”
Users will also see updates from those they follow in a bar at the top of their newsfeed, which can range ‘from best friends to popular accounts’.
Comms pros from top agencies Havas Media, Ogilvy PR, Ketchum, Hotwire and Salt PR tell Gorkana what’s most useful about the new update:
Stories will allow PRs to show exclusive content from events
James Mulrennan, business director at Havas Media’s Socialyse says that Stories is a new direction for the network as it moves from its previously highly polished images. He adds: “The move poses a challenge for many brands, so much so that they may now need to review their channel strategy – but with challenges come opportunities, and those who use these tools to their fullest will come out victorious.
“The opportunity for brands in social has always been to offer consumers exclusive content they would not otherwise get, and Stories is one tool that can amplify this. In PR, a key area of opportunity will be around events, where a multitude of content types can be looped into one story.”
Stories can further tap into Instagram’s ‘community spirit’
Influencers on the network will now have more variety according to Matt Cross, UK MD at Hotwire. He said: “Brands which have already figured out Snapchat will be all over Instagram Stories, but it should also open up a wealth of new opportunities with Instagram influencers who are looking to take advantage of the new features. It might also play firmly into Instagram’s community spirit, which seems to go against Snapchat’s smaller cliques.”
Jamie Golunski, consumer account executive at Salt Communications, added that the real strength of the network’s update is that it’s already where the masses are. He said: “Instagram hasn’t launched a separate app, in the vein of Facebook Slingshot et al, but instead incorporated into its existing app, which has hundreds of millions of monthly active users.
“Instagram Stories immediately offers brands another way to engage with their consumers in a different capacity, so it will be interesting to see how companies use it in PR. With Instagram’s much larger daily user base, we will also need to watch this space to see the impact it has on Snapchat – and brands’ presence and activity there.”
Brands can take advantage of ‘grittier’ content
Kate Matlock, associate digital director at Ketchum thinks Stories is a bold move for a platform that has prided itself on beautiful imagery.
“It taps in to a trend of viewers wanting to see not just the polished creative, but rather a more authentic glimpse of the personality behind the companies, products and people they love. For brands who have spent time earning audiences on Instagram this is going to be a great new feature for them to explore within their content plans and campaigns, in addition to, or instead of Snapchat,” she added.
Brands must embrace this raw, in-the moment content to get ahead, according to Jai Kotecha, head of digital, social and content practice at Ogilvy PR. She added: “Snapchat started the ephemeral, unedited style of content. Many brands ignored it because Snapchat was ‘just for teens’, and brands could distribute their perfect content on other social media.
“Brands can no longer ignore this trend. Perfectly polished content is not the only option for social media. It’s ok to be a little less filtered (literally!).
Pro tip: Influencer partnerships can be a great first step into creating this style of raw, ‘gritty’ content.”