Emerging Data Reveals The Real Marketing Difference Between Instagram Stories vs. Feed

With a billion monthly active users, Instagram is firmly established as an industry giant.

Some of this success is due to the introduction of Instagram Stories, a feature whose usage continues to climb from its current spot at 300 million daily actives.

But for users of the platform, what’s the difference between Instagram Stories and a standard Instagram Feed?


The question prompted a recent study by Facebook, who surveyed close to 10,000 people in Brazil, Indonesia, the UK and the US who use Instagram at least once a week. The study aimed to better understand the perceptions surrounding the two tools, and the consequences of those perceptions for marketers who want to maximize their strategy on the platform.

Their results might provide some plan-altering insight for brands.

The most prominent finding of Facebook’s study is the difference in what users want from each tool. People go to Instagram Stories for unedited, on-the-spot content of the kind that made Snapchat a success. The study elaborated: 

“[Users are] more likely to say they visit stories to see live, unfiltered content -think behind-the-scenes clips from Fashion Month or Boomerangs of athletes getting ready for a big game. On the other hand, they’re more likely to say they go to feed for a broader range of reasons, the most common of which are to find information and discover products and brands.”

Unlike within the standard Instagram feed, where the pressure to produce perfect content is high, Stories offers a break from careful curation and allows for more casual content. Not to mention the stories are temporary, which can feel like a safer entry point for brands and individuals looking to try out video content.

However, the study found a more complex underpinning to this trend.

“When we asked people to opt for either Instagram Stories or Instagram Feed for a range of objectives, we found that, on average across the four countries, people more often turn to stories than feed in just two situations. The first is when they want to see what friends are doing at the moment, which indicates that stories function as a way to bring people closer together in real time. The second is when they want to see unfiltered, authentic content - which could mean everyday moments or even “non-moments.”

This finding underscores the idea that when people use Stories, they’re searching for lighter, less-scripted content-- and for brands, that opens the door to using Instagram in a more comedic and relatable way.

The capacity to connect with your audience in new ways is a key element of the Stories function, as demonstrating the humanity of your business helps build a community and a consumer base.

The content you create in Stories doesn’t have to be perfect-- in fact, a little roughness is what will make it successful.

The clear emphasis in the findings is on humorous and extemporaneous material, while product-driven and informational content belongs in the regular feed.

The full report contains a wider range of results, including regional variations and further detail on the focus on products in feeds. But the main point for marketers is that the key to mastering Stories is to keep it real-time and cut some of the polish of the classic Insta feed.


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TrendsMaria Vasbotten