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[NEW STUDY] Instagram Stories Reach Dropping

Instagram Stories Median Reach Rate 4.4%, Claims Study

The Story-fication of social platforms was one of the leading social media marketing themes of 2018.

Stories creation and consumption grew 842% between 2016 – 2018, according to Block Party, a consultancy.

In mid-2018 former Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox, claimed, “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends.”

Despite being pioneered by the cool kids at Snapchat in 2013, it is the cloned Instagram version, launched in 2016, which has come to define the feature.

Facebook and Whatsapp rolled out their versions in 2017, and YouTube and LinkedIn joined the fray in 2018.

As user attention has shifted to stories, marketers have followed suit.

However, as with all platform innovations, the easy wins are often short-lived, with Story reach down in 2019, according to Rival IQ’s 2020 Story Benchmark Study.

Rival IQ claims the median level for Stories organic reach is now 4.4%.

As per the screenshot above, Stories reach varies by follower count, yet reach remains down across every audience cohort.

Organisations with over 200k followers saw the most significant drop in reach rate of about 45%.

Less Reach But Greater Engagement

The average organisation is posting Instagram Stories nine times per month, or about twice per week, according to the study.

Those that are most active are publishing Stories at least fourteen times a month, roughly every other day. Even the least active 25% from the study are publishing consistently, on average, just over one Story per week.

Stories are composed of individual frames, like photos, videos, or graphics. For this study, frames per day represent the number of frames published in a 24-hour period.

In 2019, 28% of all Story activity consisted of just one frame. The median number of frames published in a day is three, and only 24% of Stories had seven or more frames in their Story on average.

Compared to 2018, average Story retention rates have increased by almost 5% across the board, implying that while reach may be down, the attention garnered is perhaps richer.

Given some of the new Instagram Story Stickers which have launched within the past 18 months, i.e. “Chat” and “Questions”, it is wise to expect that Stories may follow social news feeds in favouring more active forms of user interaction versus passive.

Ergo, posting pretty pics may not be enough, as Instagram gradually falls in line with Facebook striving to provide users more “meaningful social interactions”.

Instagram Feed Versus Stories

Much like with Instagram Stories, the main Instagram feed is also down year on year from the study sample.

In general, handles with the highest followings see lower reach rates.

For handles with 200K or more followers, only about 14% of followers see their posts. Across both posts and Stories, handles with high follower counts had the most significant hits in reach rate.

On average, marketers saw a decrease of 5.7% in post reach rates. The outliers are handles with 10-50k followers, which saw a small increase in reach rate.

That said, the organic reach of Instagram posts is not to be sniffed at, still offering some of the best unpaid branding opportunities around.

Smaller social profiles with sub 10k followers, with a combined effort via Stories and posts should comfortably reach 35%+ of followers.

For the Big Doggs, with 200k+ followers, a Stories/post combo should allow you to hit up 16% of followers for gratis.

Sprinkle a little bit of IGTV into the mix and marketers should be able to nudge up a few extra percentage points.

In the long term, all social platforms end up as predomiantly pay-to-play channels and Instagram is unlikely to be an exception.

So make hay and be doubly Insta-fabulous in 2020. Zero organic reach awaits you in 2023.

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