Instagram makes Stories more visual as it looks to keep users engaged

The move will make Instagram Stories a more visual channel

Instagram has made another update to its continually evolving Stories platform, allowing users to reply to their contacts with videos and photos rather than just text.

The Facebook-owned app is billing the feature as a way for users to have "fun in-the-moment" conversations with their friends, likely presenting a further challenge to competitor Snapchat.

The move from Instagram will see users' responses to friends' stories sent directly to their direct inbox, facilitating greater interaction between users and ensuring they remain within the app for a longer period of time. Snapchat currently doesn't have an equivalent feature, it lets people respond to Snapchat Stories with text, with videos and photo replies reserved for private messages.

A recent study from Mediakix found, however, that the average time spent per day by those in the US - Snapchat and Instagram's biggest market - was 25 minutes and 15 minutes respectively, indicating that Snapchat is still leading that important metric.

Instagram has been heavily focusing on its Stories platform since its launch last August. It has been working with several brands, including Asos and Nike, to produce specially formatted ads for the service since January. Instagram, like Snapchat, serves skippable ads between users' stories, although many brands use Stories natively on the platform to showcase new services and products with official ads.

For its part, Snapchat unveiled an update to its Stories feature today (6 July), which could potentially open up further revenue streams for brands, publishers and influencers.

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