Instagram is actively rolling out the ability to “like” an Instagram Story. While, in the past, you’ve never been able to “like” a Story, you could often use a quick reply to react to a Story or send a message in reply to a Story. BOTH of these actions enabled a direct message conversation with the account that posted the Story.
This was great in many ways but, as Instagram has pointed out, it also causes cluttered inboxes, especially for larger accounts or accounts with a lot of Story activity.
Instagram’s solution was to introduce the “like” to Stories – an interaction that does NOT initiate a direct message response.
So, how do you like a Story? It’s really quite simple (once you get access to the function).
When you’re viewing Stories, you will see a little heart icon in the lower tool bar, between the message box and the share icon (paper airplane). Simply tap on that heart to “like” the post. And, no, a double tap on the Story does not work.
When you’ve liked a Story, the account will receive a notification that you liked the post, but the likes are only visible to the account user – they aren’t public for anyone else to see how many likes have been received or who liked the post.
So, what if you have posted a Story, and people are liking it? Where do you find that notification? Well, it’s actually in two places.
Yes, you can see the notifications in your Story post. When you go to your Story, tap on the “Activity” button in the bottom left corner (the one with the people’s faces that have seen/interacted with your post). Then go to the Views tab (the eyeball icon) and you’ll see who has viewed the Story. If someone has liked the Story as well, you’ll see the heart icon next to their profile photo, indicating they liked your Story.
However, they also give you this notification (at least for now) in your regular Instagram notifications. Go to your home feed, tap on the heart in the upper left corner to view your notifications. There, you’ll see who has liked your Story, along with your other notifications.
And that’s all there is to it. Easy to do, easy to track.
What does this mean for brands and businesses?
Only time will really tell us how this will impact our engagement and interactions with Stories. In the long run, for brands, I see this as a decrease in opportunities to connect with our audiences. One of the best values of Stories is the ability to connect so intimately with your audience. When nearly every interaction with a Story initiates a DM, it’s easy to begin conversations and generate leads. As we take away that ability to openly communicate and switch to more passive engagement, brands will have to find other ways to encourage interactions with their audience.
Of course, a lot of stickers are great for engagement and encourage active participation. And, as long as quick replies are still available on Stories, we’ll continue to open dialog in that manner.
And, like most changes on Stories, the average user probably doesn’t know the “like” feature is there or what it does, so they aren’t going to inherently switch to this behavior over night. It will take time and adjustment to tap on that heart rather than interact in any other way. So I don’t think we’ll see a decrease in DMs and normal interactions immediately – but I predict most brands will encounter this over time.
On the flip side, as “likes” on Stories become the norm, it could actually have a positive impact algorithmically. As with most interactions on Instagram, positive behavior on a post signals to Instagram that a user enjoys that content and that can help content from that creator remain higher in that user’s feeds, thereby ensuring that user actually sees MORE content (especially in Stories) from that creator. And that is actually valuable in the long run!
Oh, and to Instagram’s point as I mentioned at the start of this post, for those accounts with busy inboxes, the “like” will be a welcome change as a metric to measure performance without clogging inboxes full of quick replies.
So, at this point, it’s too early to say how beneficial or detrimental this new feature will be. But, overall, I think it’s a decent move and will be something we all adapt to. For brands and businesses though, you’re going to want to make sure you’re staying strategic with your Story posts to maintain quality content that generates engagement – and likes!