Nike and Others Dive Into Instagram Stories: Why Marketers Already Like It Better Than Snapchat

Instagram's new Stories feature, ripped right from the Snapchat experience, already is a brand favorite. That's partly because Instagram is more welcoming to brands, and partly because it's just bigger.

Nike, for example, generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story that it posted on Tuesday, the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike's best video got 66,000 views, according to Nike and its social media agency Laundry Service.

"Instagram is really brand friendly, so that's a huge opportunity," said Nick Sheingold, associate director of strategy at Laundry Service. "Those numbers are staggering."

Nike used its Michael Jordan brand Jumpman23 Instagram account to unveil a new Michigan football jersey in the video. Nike is a practiced Snapchat marketer, too, but the platform does not embrace brands the way Instagram does by making it easy to follow them and like their posts.

There are no heart icons for people to express their approval on Snapchat, and it's harder to follow accounts because users have to know exact names to find them. Instagram makes searching easier, and its lets brands buy ads that directly link to their accounts, where people can follow them.

"Instagram is a follower platform where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform," said Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships atVaynerMedia. "Snapchat hasn't encouraged brands to build up huge followings."

Brands clearly were eager to create videos in the Snapchat style -- but on Instagram. In addition to Nike, Mountain Dew, Quaker, Coach, E!'s "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," USA's "Mr. Robot," the Miami Dolphins and GE have all already posted Instagram Stories.

"It's just another way to communicate with fans on their terms," Mr. Sheingold said. "We know users love Snapchat, and since the Instagram experience is so similar it makes it a little easier for brands. They don't have to develop a totally unique strategy."

Alcohol brands such as Ketel One and Buchanan's whisky were especially motivated to craft the new Instagram videos. Instagram allows them to restrict viewing to people older than 21, according to Mr. Grossman, a feature not available on Snapchat unless the brand pays for an ad targeted to people 21 and older.

Instagram's new Stories fully mimic the experience that Snapchat offers with its own Stories. Users can create 10-second videos, post them to a Story, and contribute more videos all day. After 24 hours, they disappear.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom gave full credit to Snapchat for the assist in aninterview with TechCrunch on Tuesday.

But that is likely little comfort for Snapchat as it takes on a rival the size of Instagram, which also has the backing of Facebook. Instagram updated its numbers last week, saying it has 300 million daily users, and Snapchat has about 150 million, according to sources familiar with the company's internal figures.

"There are a lot of things Snapchat still brings to the table," Mr. Sheingold said. "Users are obsessed with the platform and its ad suite and products are still the best creatively in the industry."

Still, it might just be a matter of time before Instagram borrows those, too.

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