Brands face the task of navigating Instagram’s ever-evolving landscape. On today’s agenda: When to use Instagram stories vs. posts.
Does your brand utilize Instagram Stories and posts in your content marketing strategy? Do you need help knowing what content should go on your Stories rather than your feed?
Not to fear, we’re here to guide you through what there is to know about posting possibilities on the Meta platform. We’ll even highlight a few stellar brands leading the way that will surely spark some inspiration.
Psst. If you’re particularly interested in Instagram Stories, check out our 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report. It’s full of the latest data and insights on Stories trends.
Download the full 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark ReportGet your PDF here
Instagram Stories vs. posts
Instagram Stories and posts have several distinguishable features. Here’s a quick recap of the most significant differences:
- Instagram Stories are live for 24 hours, while posts are evergreen, meaning they stay on a profile forever.
- On Stories, you can share videos, photos, text-only screens, and content from Instagram. Posts can be videos, photos, carousels, or Reels.
- Instagram Stories typically only reach your followers, while posts can reach a wider audience.
Where and how brands post impact overall engagement outcomes and, ultimately, their growth. For more tips on finding that sweet spot for authentic connection with followers, check out our top practices for Instagram.
Reaching your audience on Instagram
Growing and nurturing your following starts with consistently getting your brand’s content in front of them. When it comes to Instagram Stories and posts, is one more useful than the other?
Between 2021 and 2022, overall reach declined for both Stories and posts. Story reach rate is defined by the percentage of followers who view your Stories, while post reach rate is, similarly, the percentage of your followers that saw one of your posts.
Overall, our research found that posts did a significantly better job reaching audiences than Stories. This disparity could be for a variety of reasons. Followers may prefer scrolling to tapping through Stories, feeling they get more value out of posts, or perhaps, some Instagram users avoid Stories altogether.
Engagement is the name of the game on Instagram. However, our research showed that in 2022, users experienced an overall downturn in engagement (likes, comments, and shares). Much of this decline is due to the newfound interest in video platforms like TikTok and Youtube.
To increase your engagement on Instagram, knowing how to use Instagram Stories and posts as complementary features can really work to your advantage.
When to use Instagram Stories
Instagram posts may have Stories beat when it comes to reach rate, but Stories still have their strategic function on Instagram.
Here are a few things Instagram Stories are best for:
- Timely Content: The 24-hour lifespan of stories can be an advantage. Stories do a great job capturing fleeting moments if you’ve got something new or topical to discuss. If you want Stories to have a permanent home on your feed, you can save them to your Story highlights.
- Unscripted Content: Stories are where you get to give followers a more light-hearted, behind-the-scenes look at your brand. They are a great way to make followers feel included in your inner circle.
- Posting Links: If you want to post a link to your website, a new product, or any other site, you can do so directly on stories. This makes it easy to direct followers wherever you want them to go.
- Engagement-focused content: On Stories, you can ask questions, create quizzes, conduct polls, or ask followers to vote on topics via interactive stickers.
Read more about how Instagram Stories link stickers can help boost your engagement.
Instagram Story Weaknesses
- Stories disappear after 24 hours.
- Smaller reach than Instagram feed posts.
- The larger the brand following, the lower the reach rate.
Featured Instagram Stories
Ready to see some superb Instagram Story examples?
Let’s shine a deserving light on Erewhon, the California-based luxury supermarket that loves all things wellness. They took to Stories to see what questions followers had for them about their products and general health and nutrition.
They didn’t stop there, though. Erewhon decided to answer all those follower questions in a YouTube video with one of their wellness experts. They posted the direct link to the video in their Stories for easy access.
If followers missed the 24-hour window in which the Story was live, no biggie. Erewhon has it saved under the Stories highlight “EREWHON ANSWERS” so followers can quickly go back and find the link.
Creating and saving resources like Q&As is also helpful when you think about new followers coming to explore your brand on Instagram. It is always a good idea to make it effortless for new audiences to learn more about you.
When to use Instagram Posts
We’ve established that Instagram posts generally have a more extensive reach rate than Instagram Stories, but knowing how to use them effectively can up your Instagram strategy to the next level.
Here’s what Instagram posts are good for:
- Evergreen content: Instagram posts will remain on your feed unless deleted. Followers can always revisit posts, send them to friends, or save them.
- Create brand aesthetic: As the most visually focused social media platform, many users value aesthetically pleasing feeds and content. Show off high-quality videos and images on your feed and curate your feed by planning posts ahead of time.
- Reach-focused content: As seen in our research, Instagram posts have a more extensive reach than Stories, so anything you want to share with the maximum number of users, even those not following you, should be published as posts.
- Longer messages: Instagram posts allow up to 2,200 characters in the caption. You can also continue the conversation in the comments and interact with followers.
- Diverse content types: Shake up your feed with an assortment of single-image posts, carousels, videos, and Reels.
Instagram Post Weaknesses
- Few in-app editing tools.
- Not ideal for showing day-to-day happenings.
- More effort is required to create feed aesthetics.
Types of Instagram Posts
A great way to boost your Instagram reach is to consider the types of posts that do best with your followers.
There are currently four media types users can post to their feeds:
- Images: Posts with one photo.
- Carousels: Posts with up to 10 photos or videos.
- Videos: Posts with one video that can be up to 60 minutes long.
- Reels: Short-form video posts that often use trending audio sounds or music clips. Some Reels can be up to 90 seconds long.
After surveying 965 Instagram handles for our 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report, we found that Reels had the highest reach rate at 14%. Instagram video posts came in second at 10%, followed by carousels and images, which both had reach rates of 9%.
In terms of post engagement per impression, images and carousels found themselves in another tie, but this time, for first place.
Did you find that your image and carousel posts also had the highest number of likes, comments, and shares?
If you want to see how each media type performs with your followers, you can sign up for Rival IQ’s free trial and peruse lots of other super valuable data insights.
Featured Instagram feed posts
Speaking of strategic ways to use Instagram posts, let’s turn our attention to Brit + Co. The lifestyle company’s feed is full of great posts that are sure to give you some inspiration for your own brand.
Scrolling through Brit+Co’s feed, you’ll find lots of encouraging posts related to self-care, travel, current events, food, and more. While some posts are more for entertainment purposes, others provide real value to followers, such as Reels with step-by-step recipe instructions and quick meditations.
Their branding is full of bright colors and fun imagery that all tie together to form their optimistic, feel-good aesthetic.
Other brands, like Patagonia, use their Instagram feed space to show off sharp, high-quality images and videos that showcase their appreciation for the outdoors.
Wrapping It Up
To answer your question, “Should my brand use Instagram Stories or posts?”, the answer is, it depends.
Stories and posts serve distinct purposes on Instagram, so rather than focusing exclusively on one or the other, consider how to use each to further your unique goals on the app. Try playing around with some of the posting strategies we looked at in this article, and, as always, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on them. After all, your brand’s individuality is one of its greatest strengths.
2023 is your brand’s year on Instagram. We can feel it!