Last month, Snapchat added a new search functionality for their Stories content, so naturally, now Instagram's adding the same, giving users the ability to search for Stories content based on location and hashtag, via their Explore section.
As explained by Instagram:
"You'll see a new story ring at the top of Explore filled with stories happening near you. These stories come from people who have used location stickers on their stories. You can also search for any location around the world, and you'll see a story ring for that place at the top of the location page."
In addition to this, Instagram's also rolling out hashtag stories on Explore, using their recently added customizable hashtag stickers in Stories to collect publicly posted images on a given subject.
"When you search for a hashtag, you may see a story ring at the top of the page filled with stories using that hashtag."
Because both functions are based on the use of stickers in Stories, the content available right now might be limited (by comparison, Snapchat uses various signals to locate relevant content), but as noted, you can search for any location around the world, which should provide some interesting discovery options.
First, in terms of search, on Snapchat, as noted, you can search for any keyword, and because they're utilizing machine learning and a combination of other identification factors, you'll be able to find relevant results. On Instagram, you need to search by dedicated hashtag or location, and they can only show you posts using the tags from within Stories content.
There's also a difference in how content is chosen for inclusion in the listings. On Snapchat, you have to opt-in to having your content included in public listings. On Instagram, you have to opt-out, and you can only do so after the fact.
As you can see here, you'll be given access to stats on how many views your post has received within the larger Story. Click on the x at the right hand side and you'll be able to remove your content from the listing.
In terms of marketing potential, the new options provide additional opportunities for exposure, and will be particularly relevant for those looking to tap into local markets and/or appeal to tourists.
As recently noted by Instagram, around 67% of travel enthusiasts on the platform use it to find inspiration for new journeys - while 61% find things to do on Instagram while they're traveling. The capacity to have your Stories content appear in search results for those users provides a great opportunity - definitely, if you're looking to reach tourists, including location stickers in your Stories will now become a 'must do'.
There'll be similar appeal for hashtags - as most are already aware, hashtags are key to boosting discovery on the platform and getting your brand in front of interested users. The added ability to have your Stories content appear in hashtag searches adds another consideration to the mix - the key will be in finding niche hashtags and adding them to your Stories content.
For example, it's probably going to be quite difficult for your business to gain much awareness by tapping into a major hashtag like #runner - particularly as brands start including hashtags in more of their Stories posts to get into the related Stories collection.
But as more hashtags are included (Instagram's still rolling hashtag story search out), you may be able to gain significant exposure by focusing on niche tags.
For example, you might identify that your audience is using a tag like #purplesneakers to find you, you could then add that tag to your Stories posts and ensure you get top line reach, as shown in the above image, whenever a search is conducted for it.
Of course, as noted, marketers will wake up to this and start to flood their Stories with tags, but there's opportunity to get in early and gain exposure for those who move quick, and to generate ongoing reach by using targeted focus.
It'll take some experimentation, and Instagram is still refining their listings, but it's another consideration worth exploring - particularly given the prominence of Stories in Explore results.
On another front, Instagram's also testing out a new archive option which will enable you to remove posts from your main feed, but save them, as opposed to deleting them entirely.
(Image via Matt Navarra)
As noted by TechCrunch, the option is likely geared towards younger users who have a tendency to remove poorly performing posts, though they may still want to keep them. It may also give brands an opportunity to get rid of posts that didn't resonate, while still keeping them on file for reference or re-purposing at a later stage.
Location stories on Explore are available on iOS and Android as part of Instagram version 10.22 in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Hashtag stories will be rolling out over the coming weeks.