Instagram Stories vs. Posts. Which one should you choose?

Data-Driven Marketing Marketing Tools & Tips Social Media Best Practices

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 Report

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Instagram Stories vs. posts

Instagram Stories and posts have several distinguishable features. Here’s a quick recap of the most significant differences:

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.

Reach rate: Instagram Stories vs. Posts chart indicates that no matter how many followers you have more of them are seeing your posts than your stories. 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:

Read more about how Instagram Stories link stickers can help boost your engagement.

Instagram Story Weaknesses

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.

Erewhon's Instagram Story uses an interactive question sticker for its followers to ask the brand any health & wellness question

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.

Erewhon shares all the answers in a video with Elissa Goodman on its Instagram Stories

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.

Erewhon's Instagram Highlights makes it easy for followers to tap through past Stories under categories like members, Erewhon favorites, Erewhon answers, cafe, and more.

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:

Instagram Post Weaknesses

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:

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.

The 2023 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report clearly highlights that the Post engagement per Impression by media type in 2022 was lower than it was in 2021 across Images, Carousels, Video, and Reels

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.

Brit and Co's Instagram feed has posts that are a mix of daily inspiration quotes, beautiful, and healthy food shots, and some funny meme style videos.

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.

Patagonia's Instagram feed consists of a mix of eye-catching outdoor activity and nature shots.

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!


Haley Harrison

Haley is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps brands strengthen their presence on social media through authentic storytelling and SEO strategies. If she’s not writing or researching for her next piece, you can find her preparing for an upcoming travel adventure or relaxing at home with her dog.

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