Stories are brilliant, and will change how brands and influencers use Instagram

Stories aren't just a rip-off of Snapchat. They're fundamentally better on Instagram.

By: Kyle Frost

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There's no arguing that Instagram changed the game for the outdoor industry. I'd argue that Instagram is largely responsible for a resurgence of interest in the outdoors by millenials, and countless photography and "influencer" careers have been launched as a result. There's a constant conversation around athlete sponsorship vs. influencers, and the effect on the industry. Regardless of your positions, there's no doubt that it's been an important marketing, brand development, and inspirational tool.

Today, Instagram launched "Stories", and the primary feedback thus far has been "Isn't this just a copy of Snapchat?".  Essentially, yes. BUT, it's Snapchat with a fundamentally better foundation for networking and interaction. Snapchat's beginnings with a focus on "privacy" and "self deleting photos" resulted in an inability to build a robust social network between users. Profiles are difficult to find, discover, and follow. Instagram on the other hand, has developed a wide-reaching, easily searchable user base, with a focus on discovery of new accounts relevant to each individual user.

Let's use my account as an example. I have 32k followers on Instagram, and some micro-fraction of that on Snapchat (they make the actual number practically impossible to figure out). Now, I posted a test selfie to my Instagram story an hour ago, and it's already been seen by several times as many people as any snap I've ever posted to snapchat. Things that I see heavy snapchat users in the outdoor industry doing (like writing in @instagram handles, which just becomes tags) might actually become useful, for everyone. I do see a potential issue with people following too many people to keep track of, but that seems like a solvable issue.

I know you wanted to see this. It's integral to the story.

The questions this raises for professionals, personalities and brands in the outdoor industry on Instagram is a interesting one. While grammers have increasingly been adopting Snapchat, their public personas on Snapchat vs. Instagram have been largely different. Snapchat is used for behind-the-scenes/"real-life" type interactions, while Instagram remains a very professional, curated persona. What happens when these two worlds collide? Do the funny, irreverent personas of some elite influencers survive the transition, or do Instagram stories become more of an amalgam used as a more personal way to interact with their "professional" personas? 

By putting both of these personas under one roof, we're potentially going to see an interesting shift both in how outdoor brands and influencers interact on Instagram. I for one, am mostly excited for the magnitude better discovery of interesting people and stories Instagram can offer. There are improvements to be made, of course (that one row slider is obviously going to change), but I'm confident that the talented folks at Facebook are already well aware of what those are and are hard at work. In the meantime, I'll be waiting patiently for the forthcoming rainbow vomit filter update.

Follow me on Instagram @kylefrost

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.