Reels vs Stories: What’s Best For Your Instagram Growth in 2024?

Reels and Stories are both fantastic tools to engage with your followers but they each have unique strengths. What’s best for you in 2024? Dive deeper into our guide to discover how Reels and Stories can elevate your Instagram presence!

Instagram’s changing algorithms can be overwhelming and keeping pace with the latest updates is a demanding task. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Even powerful engagement tools like Reels and Stories present a new challenge: how to best use them for your channel? Many CMOs and senior marketers struggle to understand the key differences and how to best leverage them. It’s no surprise that even in 2024, unlocking Instagram’s full power feels like a complex puzzle.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to do it alone. Our comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to master these features. Dive in as we break down what Reels and Stories are all about, highlight their key differences, and provide actionable tips to help you leverage them for explosive account growth.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories is a feature on the Instagram app that allows users to share photos and videos in a unique way. Unlike regular posts on your profile feed, Stories disappear after 24 hours. This impermanent nature is what makes them “fleeting” –  they offer a glimpse into your life that fades after a day.

What Can You Share In Stories?

  • Short video clips of your day-to-day activities
  • Snapshots of interesting things you see or places you visit
  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work or hobbies

Top 3 Benefits Of Instagram Stories:

  • Show Your Informal & Creative Side: Stories provide a platform to share casual updates with your followers in a more relaxed and creative way compared to regular posts.
  • Focus On The Present Moment: The disappearing nature of Stories encourages users to share spontaneous moments and unpolished content, giving a more authentic feel to your online presence.
  • Target The Right Audience: Stories are primarily seen by your followers, or people genuinely interested in your brand, creating a more personal and intimate way to connect with them.

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a relatively new and popular feature on the Instagram app. It allows users to create short, engaging video clips. Reels are designed specifically for a vertical format, similar to how you hold your phone when watching videos. The current video length for Reels can range from 60 to 90 seconds, offering more flexibility than Instagram Stories (which disappear after 24 hours).

What’s The Real Purpose Of Reels?

  • Short-Form Video: Similar to TikTok, Reels focuses on creating videos with a limited timeframe, encouraging concise and impactful content.
  • Music-Driven: Background music plays a key role, adding energy and setting the mood for your Reel.
  • Creative Freedom: Users are encouraged to be creative and experiment with different formats to capture attention.
  • Informative Potential: Reels can be used to share knowledge and explain concepts in an engaging way.
  • Trend-Driven: Popular Reels often leverage trending topics, challenges, or hashtags to gain traction.

How To Use Reels For Engagement?

Think of Instagram Reels as a way to capture attention and gain traction with your audience. Due to their short, attention-grabbing nature, Reels can be a powerful tool to showcase the features and benefits of their product in a fun and informative way, rather than a static image post.

What’s The Difference Between Instagram Reels and Stories?

Instagram offers two popular features for sharing content: Stories and Reels. While both involve video, they serve distinct purposes and have different functionalities. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which one to use:

1. Content Type:

Stories: Allow photos, videos, or even reposts from your main feed. You can add interactive elements like stickers, polls, and question boxes to encourage audience engagement. These are ideal for quick updates, announcements, or casual interactions.

Reels: Focus on short, creative videos in a vertical format (similar to how you hold your phone). They are designed for entertainment and often use background music to complement the content. Great for showcasing products, sharing tutorials, or participating in trends.

2. Length:

Stories: Each clip can be a maximum of 15 seconds long, but you can string multiple clips together for a longer story (up to 24 hours).

Reels: Can be anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds long, offering more flexibility for storytelling or showcasing content.

3. Longevity:

Stories: Disappear after 24 hours unless saved as ‘Highlights’ on your profile.

Reels: Remain permanently on your profile under a dedicated ‘Reels’ tab.

4. Discoverability:

Stories: Primarily seen by your followers unless your account is public.

Reels: Have the potential for a wider audience reach. They can be discovered through hashtags, the Explore page, and the dedicated Reels section within Instagram.

5. Editing Tools:

Stories: Offer basic editing features like adding text and stickers.

Reels: Have a more extensive editing suite that allows trimming clips, adding effects, transitions, music, and voiceovers.

6. Audio:

Stories: Let you add background music from the Instagram music library.

Reels: Offer more flexibility. You can use trending audio, stitch different audio files together, save sounds for later use, and even add voice overs.

7. Drafts:

Stories: Don’t allow saving drafts for later editing.

Reels: Provide the option to save drafts under your “Reels” tab for editing at a convenient time.

8. Captions:

Stories: Don’t allow adding captions, but you can overlay text.

Reels: Allow captions (up to 2,200 characters) similar to regular Instagram posts. You can also add hashtags and mentions for better discoverability.

9. App Placement:

Stories: Are displayed in a separate section accessible through your profile picture. They are not actively promoted by the platform.

Reels: Can be found in various places within the app, including the user's feed, Explore page, and a dedicated Reels section. They receive more algorithmic priority from Instagram.

10. Hashtags:

Stories: Allow up to 10 hashtags.

Reels: Can have up to 30 hashtags, potentially increasing their reach.

11. Engagement:

Stories: Focus on building connections with your existing audience. Measure engagement through metrics like tap-forward/back rates and replies.

Reels: Aim for broader reach and audience engagement. The metric to track here is the percentage of non-followers who see your content.

How To Choose Between Reels and Stories?

Wondering whether to focus on Stories or Reels for your Instagram growth? Here’s what to do. Use Stories for casual updates, audience interaction, and building a community feel. Reels are better suited for creative, engaging content that aims to reach a wider audience and potentially go viral.

Here's a breakdown to help you harness their potential:

Utilising Reels for Broader Reach

  • Boost Engagement: Reels have the potential to reach a wider audience, attracting both followers and non-followers. Leverage interactive elements like looped videos and stickers to keep viewers engaged. Encourage shares and saves with a clear call to action (CTA).
  • Grow Followers: Create entertaining and relevant content that resonates with your target audience. This increases the likelihood of new visitors discovering your brand and following your account. Utilise relevant hashtags and collaborate with relevant creators or influencers to attract wider attention.
  • Embrace Virality: With its prominent placement within the app, Reels offer a higher chance of going viral. Use trending audio and clever scripts to increase your chances of capturing widespread attention.
  • Showcase Expertise: Offer valuable video content such as tutorials, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or product demonstrations. This establishes your brand as a thought leader within your niche. High-quality editing can further enhance engagement.

Building Loyalty with Stories:

  • Nurture Relationships: Stories provide a platform to connect with your existing audience and gather valuable feedback. Use tools like question stickers to solicit product/service ideas or gauge customer sentiment. Share behind-the-scenes sneak peeks to foster a sense of connection.
  • Promote Products & Services: Since Stories are primarily seen by your followers, use them to showcase your offerings directly to a pre-interested audience. Share customer testimonials and video reviews to build trust and credibility.
  • Announce Events & Promotions: Give your followers a heads-up about upcoming events or limited-time deals by promoting them through Stories. This exclusive access creates a sense of community and incentivises engagement.

Optimising Your Strategy:

  • Understanding Your Goals: The ideal focus for Reels vs. Stories depends on your current objectives. Reels prioritise brand awareness and follower growth, while Stories excel at fostering community and engagement among existing fans.
  • Content Capabilities: Consider your resource limitations. Reels might require more editing time and effort compared to Stories, so factor in your content creation capacity.
  • Seeking Professional Help: Social media management can be a demanding task. Platforms like Fiverr offer a pool of talented professionals to help manage your Instagram presence, create engaging content, and optimise your strategy for maximum impact.

Combining Reels & Stories for Success:

By strategically employing both Reels and Stories, you can achieve a well-rounded Instagram presence. Reels attract a wider audience and establish your brand image, while Stories nurture a loyal following and encourage engagement. 

Remember, consistency is key. Regularly leverage both features to maximise your reach and achieve your social media goals.

Need a fresh perspective? Let’s talk.

At 360 OM, we specialise in helping businesses take their marketing efforts to the next level. Our team stays on top of industry trends, uses data-informed decisions to maximise your ROI, and provides full transparency through comprehensive reports.

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