Just under a year ago, Instagram added the "Stories" feature to its toolbelt — and on May 23, they took the feature a step further with new functionality designed to keep you scrolling: Location Stories and Hashtag Stories. With curated content from micro-targeted locations all over the world, the new Instagram features are big news for people looking to experience the best of a certain place or event in real-time. But what are Instagram's hashtag and location stories, specifically?
The announcement comes just an hour after Snapchat revealed its own latest upgrade, Custom Stories and Shareable Stories, which allow users to collaborate on stories around a particular event (say a bachelorette party or family vacation) with invited friends. The two features both fall somewhere in the realm of shareable content, but the differences are substantial. While Snapchat’s addition is more about curating and collaborating with other people, Instagram’s is mostly geared toward discovery.
So, how does it work? In short, users can upload to their story and stamp it with one of Instagram's provided location hashtags. The story then gets added to the larger story for that location, which is now searchable in Explore. And ‘Location’ doesn’t just refer to a city, either; users can search for and tag countries, states, cities, and towns — even neighborhoods and local businesses.
Same goes for hashtags — tagging a hashtag in a public story will add it to a larger story about the hashtag.
Of course, users can choose to remove their story from the public feed if they wish.
And, how does one use Instagram's new location and hashtag story feature? Simple: To add a story to a public Explore story, add a public story to your account, tag it with whatever location or hashtag story you want to be included in, and post it. Make sure it doesn't have offensive/not-safe-for-Insta content in it, and you might just see it pop up! The feature is great for seeing what gotta-get-there moment is unfolding around the corner, or across the world. The feature is particularly great for travelers looking to get a true sense of a city’s locals-only haunts and hidden gems. And if you’re on the fence about joining friends for a night out, you’ll never have to ask, “Is it fun?” again.
Users will know their content made it into the greater story when they check out their story views; adopted stories will register with a pink pin icon in the top left corner. As for what gets curated, Instagram’s platform — Location Stories, included — is entirely algorithmic. The algorithm takes into account who and what you’ve interacted with previously to curate a relevant content experience through its features. And as with any Instagram feature, standard privacy policies apply. Accounts set to private will not be included in the curated stories.
As aforementioned, hashtag stories operate in much the same way, with larger stories being curated according to interest or hashtag. Everything from #LadiesDayOut to #OuterSpace will have its own searchable story, and plenty of quality content to keep users scrolling.
To find public stories, you can search for a specific location or hashtag’s page, and check at the top of the page to see if a public story is available. If there isn’t one, that just means nobody has added anything yet. Be the first to do so and get your local story off the ground!