Ask a Marketer: What’s the Difference Between Instagram Reels & Stories?

difference between instagram reels and stories

We use our expertise to answer this question.

Though they both deliver short-form video content to users, Instagram Reels and Stories are two completely different mediums that serve two distinct purposes on the social media platform. To start, let’s take a look at the definition of each.

Instagram Reels

Launched in 2020 as an answer to TikTok’s expanding popularity, Instagram Reels are short-form, vertical videos that can be up to 90 seconds long. They’re one of several content types available on Instagram, in addition to regular photo posts. When posted, Reels appear on Instagram feeds the same way that regular photo posts do. Reels can consist of either a video or a collection of photos and/or video clips, which Instagram will then convert to a single video.

Instagram Stories

Stories, on the other hand, are a sort of “second feed” where users can both create original content AND natively share others’ content directly within Stories. Story posts can be up to 60 seconds long, and they disappear after 24 hours. Users can post photos and videos directly to their Instagram Stories, share photo posts and reels, or create native Stories posts that consist of photos, videos, music, links, polls, and more. Stories do not not show up on the main feed with photos and reels—you can view a person’s Instagram Story by going to their profile and tapping their profile picture, or by tapping on an avatar at the top of your feed. 

Reels vs Stories: What’s the Difference?

So, say you want to upload a short video to Instagram: Should you post it to Reels or Stories? Well, it depends! 

  • Reels are great for short-form, engaging, branded content. They should generally be the place where you upload video content on Instagram. Then, you can share the posted Reel to your Story to expand reach and engagement. 
  • Posting natively to Stories is great for more casual or time-limited content, like a short video message to your followers, linking to content outside of Instagram, or running a poll. 

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re not sure to which medium you should post, consider: 

  • Will this video content be interesting or relevant in a week’s time? 
  • Will followers continue to engage with it as time passes? 
  • Do you want it to stay on your profile as part of your brand presence?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, post to Reels! If the answer is no, post to Stories.

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