The data behind Instagram Stories: What does it tell us?

Facebook (who owns Instagram, lest we forget) says that Stories are the future, so we thought we’d dig into a little data behind that future and see what it could tell us.

This is a very small data sample, so consider it more of a starting point for some experiments for your brand’s Instagram Stories rather than a set-in-stone playbook of best practices. We’ll share more as we gather more data.

Got questions or something we missed? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

What’s the story in the data?

We looked at 72 different brands on Instagram, ranging from celebrities to museums, non-profits, local businesses, bigger B2B and B2C brands, and more. We wanted to know if there were trends that held across industries or unique stats inside of them.

The big takeaways so far?

  • 53% of the Instagram business profiles we analyzed posted to their Stories in the past 30 days
  • They posted approximately 11 Story posts per month (median)
  • They generated 3-6% more impressions than accounts that did not use Stories
  • Stories accounted for 1-3% of the typical accounts posts in a month

So Stories can give your brand a boost on Instagram; some brands we looked at saw as high as 10% of their impressions coming from Stories. As Facebook pushes this content format, that should only increase.

We also know that DMs are weighted in the algorithm, so it stands to reason that brands getting engagement from their Stories (replies to Stories arrive in the form of DMs) have a better chance of showing up higher in the feeds of the followers engaging in those Stories. So if you’re a brand who has fans responding to your Stories, be sure you’re responding to their DMs in a timely manner!

These numbers also suggest brands are being thoughtful about the content they post in Stories and not just posting because it’s the latest format. While many tap into established brand aesthetics for their Stories, expectations are more lax than with highly curated Instagram account feeds. So don’t be afraid to experiment with your Story content until you find what your specific audience responds best to.

What else did we learn?

We see more variation in Story posts than static posts— for example, there’s a much wider range in how often brands post to their Stories than to their static feed. Most brands post 19-25 posts per month to their feed, but there’s a much wider range for Stories, with the typical brand posting 11-39 Story posts per month.

Interestingly, the brands that get the highest impressions per Story post (when normalizing for follower counts) are small brands- SMBs, local places, clubs and personal brands- and not large B2C brands. This might be because users are more likely to want to engage with the Story of something they might visit soon, like a local brewery or museum than a big B2C brand they’re already on the email list for.

So don’t think Stories are only for brands with big budgets who can make highly produced and customized Story content that matches their curated feeds.

The biggest takeaway?

Measure your Stories so you can see the impact their having on your impressions, engagement, and more.

Let us know if we can help with that.


Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash