Instagram Reels vs. Instagram Story – What’s Better?

Sep 8, 2023
Sep 8, 2023
6 mins
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Instagram Stories vs. Reels

Instagram Reels vs. Instagram Stories: Which one is more effective for boosting engagement? How are they different? Answers inside.

In social media marketing, platforms add new relevant factors to stand out. Two popular features offered by Instagram have captured the attention of businesses and individuals alike – Instagram Reels and Instagram Stories. These tools provide an excellent way to engage with your audience, showcase your brand's personality, and promote your products or services.

In this article, we'll delve into the differences between Instagram Reels and Instagram Stories, comparing their unique features, benefits, and best practices to help you decide on your marketing strategy.

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels, introduced as a response to the popularity of TikTok, allows users to create and share 15 to 60-second videos set to music or original audio. This feature lets you display your creativity through entertaining and informative content, making it ideal for showcasing talents, DIY tutorials, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. With a dedicated section on user profiles, Reels offers the opportunity to reach a broader audience beyond your followers. 

It's not surprising that Instagram Reels reign supreme regarding reach rate across all media types on the platform. According to findings from the Rival IQ study, Reels boast an impressive reach rate of 14%, outshining other media formats, which typically fall within the range of 9% to 10%.

Instagram Story

On the flip side, Instagram Stories are a sneak peek of your day-to-day activities. It means they are temporarily up for 24 hours and will vanish after. This feature shows real-time sharing, giving your audience a more authentic and raw look at your life or business. Moreover, you can download Stories for free to share them on other social media platforms. Stories can be enriched with stickers, polls, questions, and links, allowing for interactive engagement, and can be found in your display picture.

It is worth noting, though, that according to a comprehensive study conducted by Rival IQ, there has been a noticeable decline in the reach rate of Instagram Stories between 2021 and 2022. This decline in reach is observed consistently across a broad spectrum of different sizes, but mid-size brands boasting follower counts ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 encountered the most substantial impact. Their Story reach rate declined from 2.4% in 2021 to 1.6% in 2022. This data underscores the evolving dynamics of Instagram engagement and the varying degrees of impact on different brands based on their audience size.

Differences between Reels and Story on Instagram

While both Reels and Stories offer visual content, they differ in many elements. Below is a breakdown of its fundamental differences and an overview of using them according to your goal.

Instagram Stories vs. Reels - table comparison

Benefits of using Instagram Reels

  • Discoverability: Reels have a dedicated Explore page, increasing the visibility of your content to a broader audience. It’s best for promoting a product or a service.
  • Entertainment value: The video format is inherently engaging, making capturing and holding your audience's attention easier.
  • Trending challenges: Participating in trending challenges can boost your content's reach and virality.

Advantages of using Instagram Story

  • Authenticity: The short-term nature of Stories encourages candid sharing, building a more personal connection with your audience.
  • Swipe-up links: You can add external links to promote and drive traffic to websites or products.
  • Engagement features: Polls, questions, quizzes, and countdowns provide interactive elements that make your audience feel involved. GIFs are also available to post in your stories to express your feelings. You can use a GIF converter to create compelling GIFs that suit your Story.

How Instagram Reels ads and Story ads work

Just like on Facebook, there are also many ways brands and creators can advertise on Instagram - using Reels and Stories. 

Instagram Reels ads are similar to Story ads, and they will seamlessly appear between organic Reels without interrupting the users. They will appear directly on the Reels tab and show Reels only.

One way to leverage Reel ads is to boost your content; in this way, your Reel will likely appear in tabs, feeds, and stories to reach new users and increase engagement. Another way to take advantage of Reels ads is to create a campaign in the Ads Manager. Here, you can choose a specific objective for your ad, whether you want to aim for brand awareness, traffic, etc. You can also target your audience, location, budget, and more.

On the other hand, as mentioned above, Story ads are similar to Reels ads. The difference from the regular Story is that you can set a timeframe for your campaign. They don’t simply disappear after 24 hours; what varies from the organic is that they are labeled as Sponsored. They will display for 15 seconds for videos and 5 seconds for a single image. This is best used to highlight your product, announce an event or new product, share product testimonials, discounts and sales, and more.

Examples of effective Reel and Story ads

1. Reel ad: product testimonial

This Reel ad from a modern jewelry brand showcases product recommendations from one of their satisfied customers. The video is enticing, with very positive feedback. The call to action button is nicely placed, perfect for increasing engagement. This Reel captures attention, provides value, and encourages viewers to try the product themselves.

2. Story ad: cooking tutorial

This Story ad from a food brand showcases a quick cooking tutorial for a simple sandwich spread recipe. The video is visually engaging with appealing background music. The use of text overlays for ingredients enhances clarity. This Story effectively captures attention, provides value, and encourages viewers to try the recipe themselves.

3. Reel ad: product dance challenge

A skincare brand nails engagement with this dance challenge. They added text for the dance steps, and the dancers were doing slow-mo so viewers could dance with them. This is a perfect ad since dance challenges are super popular nowadays. The background music is on point, plus they added a countdown and call to action button. This ad encourages viewers to participate in the dance challenge, fostering a stronger connection between the brand and its followers.

4. Story ad: flash sale

Instagram Story ad example

An eyewear brand leverages the urgency of Instagram Stories to promote a flash sale. The brightly colored visuals encourage users to take action. The limited-time nature of Stories makes it an ideal platform for time-sensitive promotions.

How to create compelling Stories and Reels

These bite-sized pieces of content can leave a lasting impression, but creating them requires skill. Here are some valuable tips on creating compelling Stories and Reels:

  • Know your audience: Build a connection with your audience by understanding their interests and preferences.
  • Engaging thumbnails: Design engaging thumbnails to entice your audience to tap and watch. They say first impression matters, so be mindful of it. 
  • Strong and concise: Start with attention-grabbing visuals in the first few seconds. You can immediately put a surprising fact, question, or captivating scene to catch your audience's attention.
  • Music and sound effects: Choosing the right and/or trending background music or sound effects is essential to enhance the mood of your content and keep your audience engaged. You can use editing tools to create engaging reels and stories and incorporate music and sound effects. 
  • Brand identity: Maintain visual uniformity across Stories and Reels to reinforce your brand identity. Create consistency in your visual style and tone.

What is the right choice for your content?

Between Reels and Stories, deciding what to use depends on your content and goals. Each feature has a quality you need to achieve specific content intentions. Reels are best for entertaining and eye-catching content you want to share with a bigger audience. At the same time, Stories excel at showcasing authenticity, building relationships with your followers, and encouraging engagement. 

In conclusion, it's best to experiment with both features and assess what works best for you and your business. If you want to be more visible, why not use both? In that way, you give your audience an engaging experience and remember to maximize the use of ads to reach your content goals. Be bold and try new things using Instagram Reels and Stories to serve your audience a creative, fun, and engaging content experience.

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Sep 8, 2023
Sep 8, 2023
Mercy Maloloy-On

Mercy is an SEO Outreach Specialist at VEED. She thrives in the dynamic landscape of online marketing. Mercy creates relevant articles and strategically reaches out to websites to build content collaborations that elevate her clients' online presence.

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