Instagram has started displaying Stories atop the Explore tab in a bid to get more people to tune into its two-month-old clone of Snapchat Stories.
Unlike the Stories found atop Instagram’s main feed, the ones featured atop the Explore tab will be curated from people that you don’t already follow on Instagram. Instagram will curate these Stories based on what it thinks you’d be interested in checking out, just like the normal photos and videos displayed on the Explore tab.
Brands still cannot pay Instagram to place their Stories within the Explore feed or run ads within or between Stories, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed.
The expansion of Stories to the Explore tab — which 100 million people check out every day — could help Instagram attract more attention to the copy-cat product it rolled out to kneecap Snapchat’s growth.
Instagram already has 100 million people viewing at least one Story every day. That’s a lot (the same number viewing Explore, though not necessarily the same people). But it’s only a third of the 300 million people who open Instagram every day, meaning that 200 million people aren’t interested in the Stories sitting prominently atop the app’s home screen.
Maybe the issue isn’t Stories as a product, but the people producing them.
If Instagram can do a good job of picking out the Stories that will pique people’s interest, then those people may start following these curated accounts to see their Stories regularly atop their main feeds, and as a side effect, they may look for more Stories to tune into, give their friends’ Stories another chance and even upload their own Stories — creating a virtuous cycle that catalyzes Instagram’s ability to compete with Snapchat’s Stories.