Social platforms are looking to innovate and evolve as they seek to win the battle for the hearts, minds and attention of consumers.

From video to algorithmic feeds, major platforms have seen major changes in the past year.

This week, Instagram announced the launch of a major new feature, Stories, that could help it thwart Snapchat’s rise.

Here’s what marketers need to know…

They are like Snapchat Stories, but (maybe) better

Instagram Stories are essentially a copy of Snapchat Stories, which allow users to weave together a collection of photos and videos to create a narrative. Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom even publicly hinted that Snapchat was the inspiration for his company’s newest feature.

But some observers suggest that Instagram’s implementation offers a better user experience.

For instance, TheNextWeb’s Owen Williams wrote, “Instagram took [Snapchat’s] confusing interface and did what it’s always done best: Made it useful to the masses, with a number of improvements that make it far more enjoyable to use.” 

If Williams is right, Instagram Stories could bring Snapchat-like storytelling to an even broader audience.

Already, as AdAge reported, a Story published by Nike racked up 800,000 views in its first 24 hours according to its social media agency, Laundry Service. The iconic shoe brand’s top video on Snapchat generated less than a tenth of that.

instagram stories

Image via Instagram blog

Stories are temporary, but…

Like Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories have an expiration date; they go away after 24 hours.

Obviously, the ephemeral nature of Stories is a limitation for marketers, but this also creates opportunities for them to use Instagram and engage with their followers in new ways, such as posting more content and behind-the-scenes content for special campaigns and events.

At a minimum, marketers can look at engagement metrics for content added to Stories (see below) to make more informed decisions about the content they post to Instagram generally.

Instagram even makes it easy to take a photo or video that’s part of a Story and publish it as a regular post, so marketers have a lot of flexibility to use content originally created for use with Stories beyond those Stories.

Filters are available

Filters are one of Instagram’s most popular features, and they are available for use with content posted to Stories.

Initially, seven filters are available, but it’s likely that more will be added over time.

Measuring engagement is different

Stories don’t have likes or public comments. These are popular metrics by which brands measure engagement on Instagram, so brands using Stories will need to be prepared to measure engagement differently for this content format.

Fortunately, Instagram is giving marketers the ability to see how many views their Stories have racked up, and which specific users have viewed them, so they won’t be without data.

Marketers can expect ad offerings to follow

Facebook has become a social media monetization machine, generating over $6bn in ad revenue last quarter.

Its monetization efforts on Instagram have been ramping up with offerings like carousel ads, and it probably won’t be long before Instagram rolls out formal ad offerings built around Stories that will give marketers even more ways to use the new feature to engage consumers.