Instagram Guides

Instagram Reels vs Stories: The ULTIMATE Guide for 2023

Julia Kachova
Instagram Reels vs Story
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Hey there! In today's blog, we are going to discuss all you need to know about Instagram Stories & Instagram Reels. We'll go over what makes each of these widely used Instagram features unique, and we'll help you find out which one you should spend most of your time curating for! So - let's get started!


What are Instagram Reels?

To begin, let's talk about Instagram reels. What are Instagram reels? When did Instagram launch this feature? And what exactly is its purpose? Let's go!

Instagram Reels Explained

Instagram Reels Explained

Instagram Reels are short vertical format videos you can create, edit and post on your Instagram profile. You can use reels to create all kinds of content from memes to behind-the-scene videos to full production studio-quality level videos. When it comes to reels - the sky is the limit.


Reels is Instagram's answer to the virality of TikTok videos. For lack of a better definition, Reels are TikTok-type videos, but for Instagram.


Reels are permanent. These appear within the feed posts of a profile. In fact, they have a separate tab within a profile's page. When on a profile, just tap the Reels tab and you'd now be able to browse all the Reels by this given user. Of course, you may also view the Instagram stories of this user by tapping on their profile photo if there is a red-orange ring around it. Both Instagram Reels & Stories can be accessed via a given Instagram profile's page.

When did Instagram Reels launch?

Reels were first launched in 2020 and you could upload up to 15-second videos via this feature. However, a few years later, this was further expanded to 90-second videos where you could stitch multiple clips within one Instagram Reel.

Why are Instagram Reels important?

With the popularity of platforms like TikTok and the quick shift of platforms like YouTube to more short-form videos (YouTube Shorts), it's clear that short-form videos are here to stay. And this is why Instagram Reels are so important.


It's no surprise that Instagram now has a dedicated 'Reels' tab on its app (more on this later). Almost all social media platforms were quick to adapt to vertical format short video format, so, reels are definitely here to stay.

What can you post on Reels?

Girl Shooting an Instagram Reel on her Phone

Virtually anything you'd like. You could simply post a photo and add some music to it. Or you could have a high-end video with a AAA production value. Your video content could be raw, just you speaking to your camera. Or a movie-like video produced in the studio with sound effects and green screens!


What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories Explained

Now, on to Instagram Stories. What exactly is an Instagram Story? When did this feature launch? And what exactly is its purpose? Let's go!

Instagram Stories Explained

An Instagram Story is a short temporary video/photo that you can post on your profile, wherein the 'story' vanishes after 24 hours. You can share multiple videos, and photos and even add interactions to your stories (like quizzes, polls, and so on) - however, the core difference is that stories disappear after 24 hours.


Stories appear on Instagram's home feed page, where a user can view Stories by tapping the profile picture of an account that they are following. Right at the top of the home page, you'd see a carousel of multiple stories from different accounts that you are following, you can tap any profile picture and their story would pop-up.

Pro Tip: If you'd like to save a story before it vanishes, you can use Famium's Instagram Story Downloader tool and download stories of any public Instagram profile in one click, for free. :)


When did Instagram Stories launch?

Instagram's Story feature was Meta's take on the success of Snapchat's vanish feature. Launched in 2016, the Instagram Story feature has been quite a success with many users using stories as their primary mode of communicating with their followers (more on this later).

Why are Instagram Stories important?

With almost a decade since its inception, Instagram Stories still is one of the most used features of the Instagram app. It's a great feature to keep your followers engaged, drive traffic to your blog or online shop, and more! We'll discuss the pros of Instagram Stories shortly!

What can you post to an Instagram Story?

Two Girls Shooting an Instagram Story Video on Phone

Virtually anything you'd like! You can record videos from your phone, or post photos from your camera roll. Or, you can re-post user-generated content. There is no limit to what you can post on stories. You can virtually narrate an entire event via several clips if you'd like (you can make as many stories as you want, there is virtually no limit).


Instagram Reels vs Story

Alright, let's discuss the main and key differences between Instagram Reels vs Stories! If you didn't know already, the two features are completely unique, have their own specific advantages and disadvantages, and well - have completely different purposes. So, let's get to it then. Instagram Reels vs Story time!


Instagram Reels can be up to 90 seconds long, whereas Stories can be up to a max of 15 seconds long.


Instagram Reels are permanent. Once you create and post a reel, it stays on your profile forever (unless you decide to delete it). Instagram Stories are temporary. They disappear within a day.


How to Access Instagram Reels on Instagram App

Instagram Reels have a higher discoverability factor. This is because Reels take up most of the space on the Explore Page. And, Reels have their own dedicated tab within the Instagram app. Stories on the other hand are only featured within the 'home page' of a user's Instagram app, and typically feature stories of people you follow.


From the explore page, and the dedicated Reels tab on Instagram, users can discover Reels from different accounts from around the world. This is similar to FYP (for you page) of TikTok.


For this reason, Reels trump Stories when it comes to discoverability.


Psst ... looking for Instagram Reel Views? We can help! At Famium, you can Buy Instagram Views for your reels, starting at $1.

Viral Factor

As an Instagram user, the chances of you going viral via Reels is significantly higher than with Stories. Again, circling back to the previous point - Reels have a much higher chance at discoverability on Instagram. Instagram stories, however, are likely to be only seen by people who already are following you.

Engagement Options

And this is where stories are the clear winner. With Reels, the only way a viewer can engage is by likes and comments. And that's it.


However, with stories, users can engage in several ways with your content. You could run polls, quizzes, and more via your stories and have your audience engage intimately with you!


Instagram Story or Reels? What Should You Spend More Time Creating?

At the end of it all, what should you be creating more often? Instagram Stories or Reels? Well, that depends on your goals and objectives. In order to truly understand the advantages of each of these features, let's take a look at real-life use cases for both Instagram Stories & Instagram Reels.

Behind The Scenes - Instagram Stories

If you're looking to share behind-the-scenes content, then Instagram stories would be the best option. Whether you're a business, sharing moments at your workplace, or an influencer, sharing BTS shots of your next trip or project, Instagram stories are great.


With the stories disappearing in 24 hours - they are a great way to keep your audience engaged with additional content without having to spend time to curate the perfect post and caption that stays on your profile forever.

Personalized Content/Approach - Instagram Stories

Stickers for Instagram Stories

Whether it's you wanting to thank a new follower or re-post that awesome review your business got from this wonderful customer - stories are a great way to deliver personalized content to your existing followers.


The beauty of stories is that they are likely to be seen by those who already follow you. What this means is, that, as it's your followers who are watching your stories, they are already familiar with you or your brand. This means, being able to share more intimate, and personalized moments with your loyal fans.


Stories also have a swipe-up feature, wherein you can drive traffic to your website or blog via stories. All the story viewer has to do is swipe up from your story and they'd land at your website.

Great Flexibility - Instagram Stories

Finally, if it's the flexibility that you're looking for, then Instagram Stories are a no-brainer. Why? Well, because they disappear within a day! A lot of the time you may struggle to find the time to post something picture-perfect to your Instagram account. And in such a scenario, stories are perfect as they are temporary and do not appear on your feed post.

Visibility - Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels Tab on Home Page of a Profile

Visibility you ask? Instagram Reels, no questions asked! Vertical videos are the future, there is no doubt about it. And Instagram knows this and is pushing its reel feature in every way possible. Reels have their own dedicated tab on the home page. Reels have their own reels grid within a profiles page, and Reels take up most of the real estate of the explore tab. And, if you're struggling with views, at Famium, we can deliver instant high-quality video views for your reels in seconds!

Virality - Instagram Reels

There is no doubt that Instagram Reels is one of the fastest and quickest ways to go viral on Instagram. There is no shortage of videos that have tens of millions of views, all thanks to Instagram Reels.


There are entire businesses that use Reels and TikToks to generate leads. Popular reels tend to create trends (similar to TikTok challenges) and can at times make the account's profile go famous.


Pro-Tip: Looking to create viral reels? Here's a quick tip - download Instagram reels that are viral, create a library of some of the most viral reels, and find out what makes them viral. Famium has a free web app that allows you to download Instagram reels from any public profile!

Better Engagement - Instagram Reels

Depending on the size of your account, both reels and stories can bring in a great deal of engagement. However, unless you have millions of followers watching your stories, Instagram Reels will nine times out of ten get you better engagement.


Tips for Creating Engaging Instagram Stories

Tips for Creating Engaging Instagram Stories


Get Creative with Stickers, GIFs, and Emojis:  Stickers, GIFs, and emojis are a great way to liven up your stories. They add more personality and emotion which can help engage your audience further.


Create Consistently: When you post stories on regular basis, you'll be able to build a stronger connection with your followers. If they know when you post content, they'll be more likely to check it out and engage with it.

Use Templates:  Pre-made templates are a great way to add more professionalism and flair to your posts without spending extra time creating them from scratch.

Instagram Story Templates

Use the Music Library (Music Sticker):   Instagram provides a great music library of popular songs you can use when creating stories. Using music in your stories is sure to engage and entertain your followers further. No matter what the content of your story is, it's always a great idea to add music to make them engaging.

Instagram Story Hashtag Sticker

Hashtags/Location Tags: Adding relevant hashtags and location tags will help widen the reach of your post, making it easier for new people to discover and interact with them.


Encourage Followers to Participate (via Quizzes, Polls, and Questions):   Quizzes, polls, and questions are great for engaging your audience. Not only do they encourage people to engage, but it's also a great way to collect valuable insights about them and use that information for later marketing campaigns.

Tips for Creating Engaging Instagram Reels

Tips for Creating Engaging Instagram Reels

Keep it Short & Sweet:   Reels are ideally 15 seconds long, so make sure to keep your video content within that time frame. If it's too long, people will likely move on to the next reel without finishing yours.


Use Eye-Catching Visuals: Make sure your visuals are eye-catching and attention-grabbing. Use bright colors and interesting animations to keep viewers engaged and glued to your video. For a quick boost in views, give Famium's Instagram views services a try!


Make Use of Hashtags: Just like stories, adding relevant hashtags will help widen the reach of your video content, making it easier to discover.


Utilize Editing Tools to Capture Attention:  Instagram has plenty of editing tools you can make use of. From adding text overlays to changing the speed of your content, the possibilities are endless. Play around with different features and find what works best for you! Within the editor, you also have options to upload multiple clips and stitch them together.

Music Sticker for Instagram Stories

Use Trending Music & Sounds:  Popular music and sounds are a great way to create an engaging reel video. Being able to relate to the sound that people hear makes it easier for them to connect with your content and engage with it further. You may also use Instagram Reel's audio tool to find trending audio and sound effects! So - definitely explore Instagram's music library! Of course, you also have the option to import original audio.

Add a CTA in Captions:   A call-to-action can be a great way to encourage people to take action and engage further with your content. Asking simple questions or providing an incentive for followers is a great way to increase engagement. In its simplest form, a CTA caption could be something as simple as 'Follow my Instagram account for more content'.


Looking for caption ideas? Check out our blog on Best Instagram Captions!



So, Instagram Reels vs. Stories - which one should you go with? Well, of course, both of them! Each has its own unique advantages. People view Instagram stories to stay up-to-date with those they already follow. With options to add polls, questions, and fun interactions, you can use stories to give your stories viewer a way to connect with you intimately.


People watch short videos (Reels) to get entertained, and you can use this to your advantage and go viral! It just takes one clip for an account to blow up on Instagram, so, be sure to invest quality time in creating reels!


Instagram Reels & Stories are a great way to keep your followers engaged! And well, making Reels and Stories is way more fun than posting a still photograph. People find reels more fun to make and watch!


We hope this blog helped you understand the key differences between Instagram Reels & Stories. See you next time! Cheers!

Julia Kachova
About the Author
Julia Kachova is a Toronto-based creative writer at Famium, specializing in Instagram & TikTok Marketing content. In her free time, Julia loves to travel cross-country with her cat in her mini-van. Follow her adventures by following her on Instagram.
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