What to expect from Instagram Stories – the ultimate benchmarking analysis

tories have become an integral part of the social media landscape. As an additional channel on Instagram, they are the perfect tool to provide the target group with up-to-date content. Above all, the possibility to place links and interactive elements in the Stories means that increasingly more companies are experimenting with the not-so-new format. Hopes are high, but what can you really expect from Stories?

Fanpage Karma has analyzed 2.5 million stories from February 2019 and presents the results in this study. The aim was to determine the average values ​​for the most important key figures and thus offer social media managers a guideline ​​for their own performance. For better comparison, all 500,000 profiles studied were divided into five size categories for analysis:

  • Tiny – up to 1,000 followers
  • Small – 1,000 to 10,000 followers
  • Medium – 10,000 to 100,000 followers
  • Large – 100,000 to 500,000 followers
  • Huge – more than 500,000 followers

Management summary

Stories is a unique format with its own rules. They are consumed differently by users than conventional posts, as reflected in the key findings.

  • Profiles with many followers use Stories much more frequently than smaller profiles. The former post an average of three Stories per day.
  • Large profiles prefer videos in Stories, whereas smaller profiles rather post pictures.
  • Smaller profiles reach a higher proportion of their fans than larger profiles with Stories.
  • People reach up to 50% more followers than brands.
  • Replies of followers to a story are not expected. Especially on large profiles, only a fraction of the followers respond to Stories.
  • Forward tapping is the default behavior of the user when looking at Stories, 80% of which are clicked away.
  • Videos are clicked away 10% less than pictures.

Story frequency

Stories are no longer new, although established profiles with many followers seem to take advantage of this format more than smaller profiles. Smaller profiles post Stories less than once a day, while profiles with more than 500,000 followers publish more than three Stories per day on average.

Even regarding the type of the Stories, small and large profiles seem to have a different approach: while smaller profiles tend to post photos in Stories, nearly two-thirds of Stories in large profiles are videos. This can be an advantage, as will be shown later.

The number of Stories that follow each other within 24 hours has no significant impact on the average reach of each story. Therefore, it does not hurt to post more than one story per day. The range is influenced by other factors.

Reach and impressions

In general, Instagram is considered the industry leader in terms of reach. Posts can reach up to 60% of followers. There is a separate study on postal coverage here.

Stories do not quite reach the values ​​of posts. Nonetheless, with 5% for large to 20% for small profiles, the values ​​are still satisfactory, because Stories can be used much more often compared with posts. A profile that publishes multiple posts a day is quickly perceived by the followers as annoying. By contrast, Stories with three or more frames are not uncommon. From a technical perspective, Stories are an excellent supplier for additional reach. In terms of content, they are even more than that, since Stories enable completely different types of communication and interaction.

Brands have a harder time on Instagram than other profiles. For small profiles, this is hardly significant, given that their followers seem to be true and consume the Stories regularly. The larger that a profile becomes, the greater the differences. Large profiles of real people achieve 50% more reach than brand profiles, which is one reason why influencer marketing is on everyone’s lips. However, like on Facebook, both have no chance against pure fun profiles. Funny memes also achieve the most reach on Instagram.

The profiles struggling the most are society profiles, i.e. profiles with a political or non-profit agenda. Perhaps Instagram is simply not the best place for these messages? While Facebook and Twitter are increasingly turning into a battleground for political views, the top hashtags on Instagram speak a different language: Instagram is about fashion, food and fitness, not Donald Trump. More on top topics on Instagram can be found here.


What you cannot expect from Stories is that followers respond to a story. Not even every 1,000th follower answers to the story of a small profile. For large profiles, it is just 0.01%. This is understandable from the perspective of the follower, who can hardly expect a personal answer.

Instagram has recently introduced many interaction options (polls, sliders, etc.) for Stories. Unfortunately, there is not yet data available for these in the Instagram Insights.

Forward, Back and Exit

Stories are shown one after the other. Images are displayed for 5 seconds, and videos for 15 seconds. All new Stories of a profile are grouped one after the other. The user has the option to tap to the right side of the screen to jump to the next story (Forward), to go back to the previous story by tapping on the left side of the screen (Back) or swiping from right to left for all Stories of the profile to skip and the Stories of the next profile to display (Exit).

5 seconds does not seem long upon first glance. For Instagram users, it certainly is. 80% of all Stories are forwarded. The famous zapping thumb from the days of linear television is experiencing its second spring in Instagram StoriesForward is normal, not punishment. A story that is not tapped is a peculiarity. In the age of Instagram, the challenge is to create content that can keep followers captive for more than 4 seconds.

This works slightly better for videos than for pictures. Although videos run 10 seconds longer than images, they are forwarded 10% less often. The reason is obvious: if the video is reasonably exciting, the follower wants to see the end of the video. Three-quarters of the videos are probably not sufficiently interesting because they are forwarded regardless.

Back is the function to return to the previous story. This measure is not appropriate for rating a single story. It does not say anything about the story itself, but rather about the previous story, because the previous story is the reason to click back, and not the current one. If you look at a single story, you can safely ignore looking at the number of Back taps.

Fortunately, this is also the case with the exits. Users seem to be so much in the flow with forward tapping that an exit occurs less often than feared. On average, 5% of the Stories are swiped away completely. The extent to which this affects the optimal length of Stories will be explored in the next study.


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