image of vintage typewriter with phrase "Share your story"

You’ve no doubt heard the news that Instagram have launched (another) new feature – Instagram Stories. They’ve only been around for a day but they are already causing a social media storm, namely because they function so much like Snapchat Stories.

If you’re not familiar with them, here’s the low down.

What are they?

When someone you follow posts an Instagram Story, his or her profile picture will get a coloured ring around it, and it will appear at the top of your feed. To view it, you simply tap on the picture. You can also tap to go backwards or forwards or swipe to view another person’s story. Each story appears in a slideshow for 24 hours. Unlike normal posts on Instagram, your followers won’t be able to comment on them or like them, but if someone ‘reacts’ to them, you are sent a direct message.

As you can see, they function exactly the same as the Snapchat ones. However, they have been regarded as being a slight improvement on the Snapchat versions.

How are they different?

Although they work the same way, they’re arguably more user friendly and allow users to be more creative, as you can customise your story photos with emojis, text and drawings.

‘With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about over-posting,’ say Instagram HQ. ‘Instead, you can share as much as you want to throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want.’

What else do I need to know?

An important additional feature of your stories is that you can control who ultimately sees them, and who doesn’t. If you’d like to prevent your boss from seeing your latest weekend mishaps, it’s a simple process to keep it private (and keep your job) – go to your profile and tap the sun symbol in the top right of the screen. Choose Story Settings from the menu and then tap on Hide My Story From ***. Select your boss from the list and tap Done. Your boss will still be able to view your posts, but not your story.

You can also save your story snaps if you don’t want them to disappear forever, and you can also post them to your feed, too. And if you’d like to see who is viewing your stories, that’s a simple process too. Open your story and swipe up on the screen. At the bottom of the screen will be a view counter and the names of the people who viewed your story.