After a Year, Instagram Stories Is Fueling the App’s Rapid Growth

The feature is celebrating its first birthday today

Instagram Stories turns one year old today. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

It might be hard to believe, but Instagram Stories is already turning one year old.

Instagram’s Snapchat clone hits its first anniversary today, and the Facebook-owned app has spent much of 2017 heavily investing in bringing vertical video and augmented reality filters to the format. As a result, Instagram is growing rapidly, adding 50 million daily users in just two months to hit 250 million daily users in June. In comparison, Snapchat’s own platform had just 166 million as of the first quarter of this year, according to the company’s most recent quarterly earnings.

When it first introduced Stories last year, Instagram was immediately accused of copying Snapchat as a way of siphoning its growing user base ahead of its inevitable IPO back in February. Executives have admitted to being inspired by the younger Snapchat, but in an interview with Adweek earlier this year, Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom said adding Stories was a way for users to get away from only posting highlights of their lives.

“What we realized about Instagram—the traditional news feed, as it were—was that you would post and get all these likes and comments and that would be great, and it would live on your profile,” Systrom said. “But what about all the moments that you don’t want to hang up in the art gallery, that aren’t the highlights of your life, that you don’t necessarily need to be judged on? It’s simply a status update.”

Users have quickly taken to popular face filters like puppy ears, sleep masks and bunny ears, but businesses have also caught on as well. In fact, according to Instagram, more than 50 percent of businesses produced an Instagram Story in the past month, while one in five organic stories from a business elicited a direct message from a user.

Despite Instagram’s U.S. roots, the most popular location tags for Stories are nearly all international. According to the company, Jakarta is the most popular, followed by Sao Paulo, New York, London and Madrid.

According to Instagram, overall use of the platform has also increased, which is largely thanks to Stories. Users under the age of 25 now use the app more than 32 minutes per day, with those older than 25 using is more than 24 minutes per day.

Asked about the constant comparisons to Snapchat, Systrom said he’s not offended by it.

“I think they’re a great company,” he told Adweek back in May. “I think they’re super innovative and interesting. I mean we’ve blazed our own path by introducing filters to the world, and taking charge on media sharing. We were basically the first company to do that on mobile.”

He added: “I don’t think it matters to get compared to other innovative companies, but to be honest, we’re in the early innings of this game. How many months has Instagram stories been out? Single-digit months, and if you think about that, I think it’s way too early to tell what the winning service will be. These things develop over years, not months.”

Here are the top hashtags on Instagram Stories posts from the past year:

  2. #WORK
  4. #MOOD
  6. #TBT
  7. #LOVE
  8. #HOME
  9. #BOMDIA (“Bom dia” means “good morning” in Portuguese)
  10. #RELAX

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.