Instagram brings stories to the explore tab

Two months after introducing Snapchat-style stories to the app, Instagram today announced that stories are coming to the explore tab as well. The company says 100 million people visit the tab each day to find photos and videos from accounts they don’t yet follow. Now they’ll see stories there as well: a rolling series of posts that disappear 24 hours after they are posted, just like on Snapchat.

For Instagram, adding stories had two key objectives. The first was to get users to share more photos and videos at a time when their rate of sharing had begun to decline. The second was to blunt the momentum of Snapchat, which has become the default place to share and socialize for a younger generation. So far, it seems like Instagram stories are working well enough — the company says that one-third of its 300 million daily users interact with stories every day.

There are still some missing pieces in Instagram stories — no face-altering filters, for example, or long-term storage of the sort offered by Snapchat’s memories. But the explore tab remains an advantage that Instagram has over its younger competitor, which has struggled with what tech types call “discovery” — the mechanism that lets you find interesting new accounts to follow. On Snapchat, you can add someone via their phone number, user name, or QR code. But there’s no way to browse popular accounts and sample them first.

In the past, Snapchat has suggested that it lacks an explore-style tab because the app is meant for communication with your closest friends and family. At the same time, it has become a home for giant media brands, artists, and the kind of young social-media stars who used to get famous on Vine. If Snapchat won’t build a tab to highlight them, Instagram is all too happy to fill the void.

Explore stories are rolling out today on Android and iOS.


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