Over 200M Daily Active Users: Why Are Instagram Stories So Popular?

Friends, family, DJ Khaled, and the neighborhood plant shop owner - nearly everyone is using Instagram Stories. The ability to glimpse into the lives of other people is mesmerizing, and Instagram's stories feature is one that we've loved since it's release last summer.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the history of Instagram stories, on August 2, 2016, Instagram announced its new stories feature — the ability to share photos and videos that appear on a separate, in-app feed and disappear after 24 hours. The announcement came on the heels of Facebook’s failed attempt to purchase Snapchat, the platform that conceptualized and initially developed ephemeral content. And so Facebook, and its subsidiary, Instagram, joined the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mindset — i.e., if Snapchat couldn’t be purchased, Instagram would create a nearly identical version of its own.

Despite the initial backlash (Instagram’s post announcing their stories feature received over 2.7m views and 51k comments, many of which reprimanded the company for “ripping off’ Snapchat), less than a year later, Tech Crunch reported that Instagram stories has surpassed Snapchat in its number of daily active users.

So what’s the deal? If Instagram stories are a direct rip of Snapchat, then what is making it so much more appealing to users? Here are our theories:

  • Instagram Stories Are Aesthetically Pleasing | Shaky filming, awkward camera angles, and bad lighting comprise my Snapchat feed. On the other hand, Instagram stories are filled with fun Boomerangs, cursive lettering, and generally beautiful content. Despite the fact that Instagram stories don’t appear on your actual grid, it seems that people are still more inclined to produce aesthetically appealing content, matching the platform’s inherent style, and thus making stories more interesting to watch.

  • The Ability to Disengage | Instagram stories do not appear on your actual feed, which means that if you don’t feel like watching them, you don’t have to! The ability to check-in only if and when you want to, while still having access to the main features of the app (photo sharing) is significant; it offers users new features, but allows them to still have a choice in how they want to use their personal accounts.

  • The On-To-The-Next-One Approach | Do you remember what the first Instagram logo looked like? What about the iPhone 3GS? With new tech developments being released almost daily, our tech memory is becoming increasingly more short term. We engage with what is relevant and frequently leave outdated apps in the dust. The more people that use Instagram stories, the more relevant it becomes — it’s a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

  • A Behind The Scenes Look  | Our favorite Instagram stories are those created by our favorite brands, companies, and celebrities. The ability to have a behind-the-scenes look at a company’s product development process, or a singer’s photo shoot, has a lot of appeal. And if a company doesn’t have great content, you can simply mute their story and continue to engage with their regular feed.

If you have an Instagram, whether a personal or business account, now may be the perfect time to start jumping on the stories train. It seems like it’ll only be a matter of time before Snapchat becomes old news.

What are your thoughts on Instagram stories?

Story by: Isabelle Edwards