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TikTok Stories: How Do They Work (and Will They Beat Out Instagram's)?

Curious about the launch of TikTok Stories? We break down how Stories on TikTok work, why the launch matters and its impact on brands and creators alike.

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Hard to imagine the social media landscape without Stories, right?

Fun fact: it’s been over a decade since Snapchat spawned the concept of “self-destructing” social posts that disappear after 24 hours. 

(Don’t worry — we feel old, too)

Fast-forward to present day where ephemeral content is a staple of social media. Heck, over a billion people engage with Stories across Instagram and Facebook daily.

And so maybe it’s not a big surprise to hear that TikTok Stories have finally arrived.

tiktok stories details

While the rollout might seem straightforward, the launch of TikTok Stories is significant for brands and creators alike. 

Will TikTok potentially steal Instagram’s thunder? Or will the feature fall flat like Twitter Fleets?

Below we’ve broken down the basics of TikTok Stories and their potential impact on social media at large.

TikTok Stories Explained: What the New Feature Looks Like

The platform confirmed a pilot test of the feature back in 2021 but we’ve had a chance to test-drive TikTok Stories firsthand. 

Our first impression? TikTok’s Stories are nearly identical to Instagram’s but with a few quirks.

tiktok post to story example

As of right now (March 2022), the feature is still being introduced across TikTok and not all accounts have access (yet). Here’s the scoop:

  • TikTok Stories are created using the platform’s native camera feature
  • Content published as a Story is only visible for 24 hours
  • Stories are presented within TikTok’s “For You” feed — there is currently no separate feed for Stories

Creating a Story is nearly identical to publishing a traditional TikTok video. When you’re finished filming, you’ll see the option to “Post to Story.”

With TikTok Stories, you still have access to the platform’s signature creative features including:

  • Flip
  • Speed
  • Enhance
  • Filters
  • Timer
  • Reply
  • Flash

tiktok stories effects

You also have access to most of TikTok’s editing and publishing features to help your Story pop, including:

  • Text
  • Stickers
  • Effects
  • Filters
  • Captions 
  • Voiceover
  • Music

The text and sticker options are very similar to what’s available on Instagram. Here’s what they look like on TikTok:

TikTok Stories stickersTikTok Stories text

After you’re done editing, push your Story live and that’s that! Profiles with active Stories are denoted by a blue ring around your profile picture (think: just like the orange-pink ring in IG).

Since the feature is brand new and still limited in availability, we haven’t seen many Stories in action. That said, we’re stoked to see brands on TikTok will flex their creativity in the near future.

Free TikTok Webinar - Watch Now

What the Stories Launch Means for the TikTok vs Instagram Showdown

We get it: it’s easy to dismiss TikTok’s latest feature as a copycat version of Instagram Stories.

Then again, the same could be argued of Instagram and Snapchat back in 2017. The ongoing popularity of Instagram Stories speaks for itself. For better or worse, similar features tend to transfer from one social platform to the next. Who gets “credit” for the concept eventually becomes a moot point.

Speaking of, there are a few notable parallels between the launch of Instagram Reels and the introduction of Stories on TikTok. 

It’s no secret that Reels was a direct response to the explosion of TikTok’s short-form looping video. When TikTok videos started showing up in Reels, Instagram went as far as deprioritizing content with the TikTok watermark to save face.

The initial response to Reels from users and critics alike was cynical. The New York Times referred to the feature as a “dud” back in 2020. Meanwhile, headlines like Gizmodo’s “Instagram, Honey, Please Stop Copying TikTok” speak for themselves.

But now Reels dominate the Instagram algorithm and the platform’s “Explore” page. A recent case study from Creatopy likewise makes the business case for Reels as one of Instagram’s top ad formats.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, with many skeptics giving TikTok Stories the side-eye.

tiktok stories twitter thread

But hey, we’re definitely not taking sides in this one. That’s because TikTok and Instagram have both proven to be goldmines for creative brands. 

It’s way too early to write off TikTok Stories, though. 

Perhaps more importantly, the launch also gives us a glimpse into the future of both platforms which we’ve broken down below.

TikTok is Evolving to Help Creators (and Creative Brands) Do Business

As far as social media platforms go, TikTok is still relatively young. That said, TikTok has definitely grown up in terms of its features, functionalities and opportunities for brands. Key evolutions we expect to have the biggest impact on brands include:

Despite Slowing Growth, Instagram Remains an Influencer Marketing Hub

In regard to social media usage, TikTok totally popped off in 2020 and 2021. 

Whereas TikTok saw 18.3% growth last year, Instagram came to a grinding halt with a mere 3.7% growth rate. Specifically, TikTok has slowly peeled younger users away from Instagram by becoming the platform of choice for Gen Z.

social media usage data

Source: eMarketer

Yet this data doesn’t tell the whole story as Instagram still boasts double the monthly active users of TikTok (hint: IG’s two billion versus TikTok’s one billion).

And on that note, Instagram remains the priority platform for influencer marketing.

In a 2022 survey, 93% of marketers said they planned to invest in Instagram for influencer marketing (including 83% using Instagram Stories and 36% using Reels). TikTok was firmly in third place (68%) but there’s no denying the gap.

The takeaway? Both platforms are booming. Instagram’s base might be approaching a ceiling, but the app’s status as an influencer marketing hub isn’t changing anytime soon.

Both Tiktok and Instagram are Fighting for Creators’ Attention

No surprises here. 

From collaboration opportunities to creative content and beyond, both TikTok and Instagram are eager to attract creators through new features. TikTok boasts a whopping 27 million followers on Instagram while the new @instagramcreators TikTok is currently teaching users how to make the most of Reels. 

Wild, right?

instagram creators account on tiktoktiktok content on instagram

Source: @instagramcreators / @tiktok

Again, both platforms are fair game for brands and creators alike. Choosing between TikTok and Instagram doesn’t have to be a question of either-or. Instead, ask: “why not both?”

reels and tiktok side-by-side

Source: @articfoxhaircolor / @articfoxhaircolor

TikTok planner for brands

What’s Your Take on TikTok Stories?

New social media features are a surefire way to get brands buzzing.

Some of ‘em sizzle out. Others stick around for the long haul. 

For TikTok Stories, we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, this rollout highlights how the platform continues to grow and evolve. 

So much of the feature’s longevity and popularity hinges on whether creators get on board. Assuming they do, expect Stories to be yet another way for brands on TikTok to engage their audiences.

If you’re ready to collaborate with TikTok content creators but don’t know where to start yourself, contact Statusphere to chat with our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists.

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