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How to use Instagram Stories, and why you'd even want to

Caitlin McGarry | Aug. 9, 2016
Instagram's feature is easy to use, but lacks the selfie lenses and geofilters that make Snapchat so fun.

Before posting, you can draw on your image or video, add text, or put an emoji on it. One unique feature Instagram Stories has is a neon text feature. To add a little extra oomph with neon, tap on the marker, then tap on the third option on the right.

You can save each addition by tapping the download icon in the bottom right corner, or share it as an Instagram post in your main feed by tapping the three dots in the lower right corner after you’ve shared it to your story. I haven’t been doing that, though, because Stories are supposed to be fun, fast, and far less pressure than a standard Instagram post. 

New rules for friends

Instagram Stories change the game on Instagram, because no one can publicly like or comment on your story. If they want to respond to a ’gram, they can tap “send a message” on the lower left of your post to chat with you directly. This is great for Instagram, because more people will start using Instagram Direct, and great for you, because now you won’t have to measure your worth by likes and comments. Not that you did before. But still.

If you don’t want to allow anyone to respond to your story, you can change that setting in the new Story Settings section of the app.

instagram stories followers
The new Story Settings option in the Instagram app.

The same privacy settings you have in place for your Instagram account apply to your story, so public accounts will have public stories and stories from private accounts will be limited to that user’s followers. You can further restrict your story by hiding it from specific followers in Story Settings.

Instagram vs. Snapchat

Instagram has more users (or so we think—Snapchat doesn’t disclose their numbers) and an easier to use app. Anecdotal evidence indicates that many give up on Snapchat because its myriad features are accessible using gestures that aren’t quite clear unless you’ve read a user manual. If you’re already using Instagram, the new Stories format is a bonus.

What Instagram and Snapchat will be watching out for is the number of users who use both sets of Stories, or choose one over the other. Snapchat could see a drop in engagement while Instagram’s increases, if Instagram Stories succeeds. One of my favorite bloggers uses both apps for different purposes and bemoaned having to choose between them.

There are two things Instagram lacks that makes Snapchat worth using. The first are geofilters, which are fun visual ways to denote where you shot a snap. Brands have gotten in on the act by sponsoring filters, and you can even buy your own on-demand filter for special events like weddings.

 

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