by Larry Magid
For years, Facebook has been looking for a way to compete with Snapchat at its own game and, after two failed attempts, it’s trying again not by trying to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion as it did in 2013 or by launching its Slingshot Snapchat-like app as it did in 2014. This time, Facebook is doing something smarter by going after the ephemeral photo and video market by adding it as a feature in Instagram.
Instagram Stories is a new feature that, says an Instagram blog, “lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile.” The company says that the service allows you to not worry so much about “over posting” because whatever you share disappears after 24 hours.
It’s a smart move because it adds this increasingly popular feature to an already incredibly successful app. There’s no need to get people to download anything new. By adding it as a feature, it makes it easily available to the more than 500 million users of Instagram.
Another reason it’s smart is because there are times when people want to post something without it being part of their “permanent record.” It can be something wacky or slightly bizarre or just something you want to share for the moment. And, because it’s ephemeral, it takes on a different meaning to the observer who sees it when posted rather than viewing an archive. It’s kind of like having been there either in person or via TV for a live performance or sporting event vs. seeing a less compelling replay.
How to use Stories
The feature, which is being rolled out to both iOS and Android users, enables you to tap a + symbol in the top left of your screen or swipe left from anywhere in your feed to add a photo or video to your ephemeral story. You can also add text or draw on your story as Instagram explains on a help page.
- If you have a private account, only your approved followers will see your story.
- If your account is public, your followers will see your story by tapping your profile picture in a row at the top of the feed. Anyone can see it from your profile.
Regardless of the type of account, you can hide the story from anyone, even if they follow you.
You can share multiple photos and videos which will appear together in a slideshow format.
Know who’s viewing your Stories
You can view who’s seen your story by opening it and swiping up on the screen. That will display the number of viewers and the name of each person who has seen the photo or video. Only you can see who’s seen your story.
Even though stories disappear in 24 hours by default, you do have the option of saving them either before or after they’re posted.
Viewing and messaging
If you click on that profile photo and view a story you can comment or tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct as long as that person has allowed people who follow him/her to send messages. You can go to Story Settings to select whether the “Send Message” option on your story only appears to people you follow or to no one.
Reporting abuse and hiding your stories
If you feel that an image violates Instagram’s community guidelines, you can report it as follows:
- Open the story
- Tap in the bottom right of the photo or video you’d like to report
- Tap Report then follow the on-screen instructions
If you don’t want someone to see your story, you can hide your story from them and prevent them from seeing anything you post to your story in the future.
- Go to your profile by tapping .
- Tap (iOS) or (Android) in the top right.
- Tap Story Settings below Account.
- Tap Hide My Story From.
- Select the people you’d like to hide your story from, then tap Done. To unhide your story from someone, tap to unselect them.