Just when we start to spend more time soaking up the sun and less time staring at our screens, Instagram releases an update that makes the app more addictive than ever. Guess we can kiss that summer glow goodbye. If you’ve tried Instagram’s new Story Search feature, you’ll know what we’re talking about. The update, which lets users search Instagram stories by location and hashtag, has opened the proverbial floodgates for an endless amount of user-generated content. Stories posted from public profiles using a location or hashtag sticker are selectively added to larger stories that can be searched and watched by anyone in the world. Thanks to the update, anyone with a smartphone, pair of thumbs, and sense of curiosity can trot the globe without leaving their sofa.
We’ve spent a bit (okay…a lot) of time playing around with the new feature, and it’s safe to say it has the potential to revolutionize the way people decide where to eat, travel, shop, and more. After a long week of testing Instagram’s new feature, here’s our take on Story Search.
No more scanning the internet for fun events to hit up after work. Location Stories give you all the ideas you could ask for. Usually, we turn to friends to find out what’s happening in our ‘hood, but Instagram’s crowd-sourced Location Stories provide a whole new level of insight. When searching ‘Vancouver, British Columbia,’ the Location Story that pops up lets you know what Vancouverites are eating, which happy hours they are hitting, and where they are headed for some late-night live entertainment. Not only does Vancouver’s Location Story let you in on every event big or small happening in the city, it gives you first-person glimpse of the scene. Is it crowded? Who’s there? What are they wearing? Each story is like a mini commercial and real-time review of everything happening around you.
Next thing we knew, we were searching different neighbourhoods, restaurants and stores, and we didn’t stop at Vancouver. We e-travelled to New York, Bali, Japan, and more, peeking into the lives of hundreds of people and catching a bad case of wanderlust while we were at it.
If you thought searching popular hashtags and browsing static images was fun, wait until you search Hashtag Stories. Instagram is still rolling out the feature, so content is sparse, but hashtags like #foodporn and #wanderlust have already started to pick up steam in the story world. We even stumbled across an event Hashtag Story promoting a cocktail launch at the Four Seasons Hotel in Moscow.
More than anything else, Hashtag Stories feel like an extension of the static image experience—they lead you to content you’re interested in and let you make of it what you will. The most effective Hashtag Stories we’ve seen are the ones that include a location sticker or profile handle. Because stories flash by in the blink of an eye, it’s tricky to get a sense of where the story came from and what it’s about. Stories with location stickers and Instagram handles make it easy to find out more about the content that catches your eye. The eggs benny that had us drooling when we searched #foodpics turned out to be from a spot right down the road! Now that’s what we call curated content.
Instagram Story search means big things for brands. User-generated content packs a powerful punch when it comes to acquiring new customers, and with Story Search it’s easier than ever to find it. So brands, get ready for your close up!