Instagram Stories has grown to become one of Facebook’s best products to date. As of last year, roughly half of Instagram’s users — or 500 million people — were interacting with Stories on a daily basis. That’s nearly double the entire daily active user base of all of Snapchat, which first popularized the Stories format. Now, it appears Instagram is testing a way to expand the Stories experience, making it a more of a central focus in the Instagram app.
The company is newly testing a feature that will allow Instagram users to see more Stories at once, both on the home screen and in a new Stories-only experience.
In the test, users will initially see two rows of Stories instead of one at the top of the screen when they first open the Instagram app. A button will also appear beneath this expanded Stories area that lets you click to “See All Stories.”
This will then launch a new screen where you can view and scroll through all your available Stories in a full-screen experience.
The feature was first spotted by California-based social media manager Julian Gamboa late last week, who shared a screenshot of the new Stories interface to Twitter.
Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch this is a test with a small number of users for the time being. The company declined to provide further details, but said the test has been live for over a month.
It’s not surprising to see Facebook toying with ideas that would allow it to push more users to engage with Stories, given the product’s massive appeal, growth and increasing importance to Facebook advertisers.
In Q3 2019, Facebook called Stories one of its biggest growth areas, noting that then 3 million of its 7 million total advertisers were now advertising across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger Stories combined. By Q4, the number of advertisers using Story Ads had grown to 4 million.
To cater to advertisers’ needs, Facebook last year introduced customizable templates where businesses can upload their photos and videos, then choose from different layouts, color and text options to make more engaging Stories. And to make it easier to participate in Stories, Facebook now allows advertisers to buy across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram all at once.
When Facebook reported its Q1 2020 earnings, it noted the total number of ad impressions across its services had grown by 39%. It attributed the jump to both engagement increases across feed products and Stories combined.
However, Facebook has often said that Stories ads monetize at lower rates than the News Feed — something the company believes will change in the long run as more advertisers migrate to Stories.
Given this context, it’s interesting to see Instagram testing a full-screen, scrollable Stories experience in the app. If Instagram decided to launch this product publicly, it could capture more daily users and then, in turn, more advertisers.
“We’re always testing new ways to improve the Instagram experience for our community,” a Facebook company spokesperson said, in reference to the test.