When to use Instagram Stories

You’ve seen all the buzz about Instagram Stories this week and probably watched a few of the Stories at the top of your feed, but maybe you’re still not sure when you should use Stories versus posting to Instagram as you regularly do. It’s a cool new feature, especially if you don’t have time to use Snapchat. So you’re probably asking yourself when to use Instagram Stories.

Answer these three questions to help you decide when to use Instagram Stories and when to update your main account.

Question 1: Does this match the tone I’ve set for my profile?

Instagram has become a highly curated visual presence for brands and personal accounts alike. Generally users decide how they want to present themselves, and then post only images that support that perception, over time building a profile that shows new followers at a glance what their brand is about.

Stories gives brands a chance to have a more behind-the-scenes outlet for some of their content without building out a presence on another platform. If you have images or videos you want to share that don’t quite match the highly curated, more permanent tone you’ve established for your Instagram profile, then they’re a perfect fit for Stories. Feel free to mix it up in Stories.

Question 2: Would this flood the feeds of my followers?

We typically recommend posting no more than about 3 times a day on Instagram, especially if you’re just getting started, since you don’t want to overwhelm your followers’ feeds. Our research has shown that once you establish a cadence, however, it’s more important to stick to it than having a set magical number of times a day to update. This has changed slightly with the introduction of Instagram’s new display algorithm, making it a risk between getting your photos seen and having too many of them wind up at the top of the feed based on past interactions.

Stories may seriously impact this. You can update Stories as much as you want without the fear of overwhelming your followers, since they have to choose to watch it and can always swipe away if they decide they’ve had enough. Stories is absolutely perfect if you’re hosting an event or other activity that generates a lot of content over a short period of time. Share the best images on your main profile in line with your usual strategy and share the rest in Stories.

Question 3: Am I testing something new?

Since Stories has a more casual feel than a curated profile, brands can use it to test out new kinds of content and connect more casually with followers, who can respond to Stories via direct messages. Use this connection to test out new content or styles. You can directly poll your followers on new product updates or any FAQs they have for your brand.

Consider other kinds of new content – a behind-the-scenes tour of your office, a quick demo or tutorial around your products, maybe even do employee intros to show off more personality behind your brand, especially those who run your social accounts. Stories give you the option to try out less polished content with lower risk, so give it a shot!

Anything else?

Instagram Stories is brand new, so it will be exciting to watch how people use it in the coming weeks and months. Now is the perfect time to get creative and play around without impacting the more permanent perfection of your Instagram profile.

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