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Instagram Posts, Stories, and Reels: What’s the Difference?

by | March 7, 2023

Instagram offers three main formats to reach audiences. Learn how to put the strengths of posts, stories, and reels to work for your brand.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Do you know the difference between Instagram posts, stories, and reels? These options for delivering content are one of the reasons two billion monthly users choose Instagram to project their message and engage with followers. 

That’s a lot of potential buyers! Instagram advertising can be a real boost for your products or services. Even if you think you’ve got it down pat, it can’t hurt to test your IG knowledge with these true or false questions. 

True or False: An Instagram feed only includes content from your account.

Instagram feed

False! There’s your personal account feed, which features all of your posts and reels. The term “feed” also includes the photos and videos posted by the accounts you follow. It also features accounts the Instagram algorithm thinks you’ll be interested in. 

Instagram content is time sensitive. The best times of day for engagement are between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. If this doesn’t make sense for your business, the next best thing is to ensure you’re posting consistently.

True or False: Posts are the original form of IG content.

Instagram post

True! Instagram posts are the “traditional” way of sharing IG content. When the app was first launched, feed posts were the only way to share. Posts can be either static photos or videos. You can post up to 10 pictures in a post using the carousel feature.

A post is an easily digestible image to show off your brand’s products and personality. Posts can include locations, keywords and phrases and hashtags in their captions. Reels, however, are quickly replacing posts as the preferred content method. As a result, posts rank lower in the algorithm. 

You can use posts to do the following:

  • Post about an upcoming sale or in-person event
  • Share carousel photos or videos of new products or properties
  • Introduce staff members by posting their photo and an “About Me” caption

True or False: Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours

Instagram story

True! Instagram stories are short videos or photos posted to your account in real time. Only followers or followers in the “close friends” category can view them. Stories are generally less curated and intended to be spontaneous. 

All stories are featured at the top of your main feed. Click a user’s account photo to view their current story. Stories can be saved to your profile by adding them to a highlight.

An Instagram story offers a great way to build customer relationships by showing off your brand personality. They’re casual but can also be curated using filters and hashtags. 

Unless added to a profile highlight, Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours. This means they’re not the best way to post content you want users to share or view again and again.

You can use stories to do the following:

  • Remind consumers about a sale or in-person event day of
  • Promote an ongoing sale and event itself, being sure to use location tags and hashtags for better visibility
  • Use story features like polls and music to boost engagement. Also consider reposting a post or reel to your story help boost viewership and awareness.

True or False: Instagram reels get the best engagement

True! Over the past year, Instagram has prioritized reels to compete with TikTok. Since their inception, reels have boosted Instagram engagement by 280%. 

Reels are short-form videos posted to your feed. They’re videos up to 90 seconds long and made up of a single video, clips, or photos edited together. They can include text, music, and effects. Reels are easy to send between users, post to your feed, or share in stories. 

Unlike stories, reels posted by public accounts can be viewed and shared by anyone. This makes them a great option for brands who want to attract new customers, especially if they are using brand reps to get the message across.

Using hashtags, keywords, and trending music can help more users see your reels. It also helps if you keep your reels short and attention-grabbing. Think 15 seconds or less with something to hook the viewer.

You can use reels to do the following:

  • Create a product how-to or tutorial (detail how the product is made, cooking demos, makeup application)
  • Give a tour of a student housing property or amenity 
  • Feature video highlights of a recent in-person event or sale
  • Get staff or customers to try a viral dance or challenge

True or False: Instagram content should be fun

True! No matter what you’re posting, make sure it’s fun. Social media is designed to entertain, after all. Don’t be afraid to try something new or test different types of content to see what performs the best.

Need IG Game?

At College Marketing Group, we know our way around social media. Let us help you develop a campaign to reach Instagram and TikTok followers. We can also connect you with influencers that help spread the word to their followers.

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