As previously mentioned, TechCrunch discovered a Stories feature that Instagram was secretly testing. This new feature, which TechCrunch called Location Stories, is officially rolling out.
Instagram made the announcement in a Story yesterday, calling the new feature by its official name and illustrating how it works. According to Instagram’s announcement, you can find popular Location Stories in the Stories bar within the Discover page. If you can’t find a particular Story there (for example, you want to know what’s going on in San Francisco), you can search for one from the Discover page. Doing the latter will take you to the Places page where you can watch a long reel of Stories from a tagged location.
How Location Stories Works
To create a Location Story, simply add a geofilter to your post. You can only access geofilters geofenced within a one-block radius from your current location. If you were in Times Square, for instance, a geofilter for Times Square will appear to you.
Once you post geofiltered content to your Story, Instagram will automatically curate that post in the Places page of the app according to your tagged location. For example, if you used a geofilter tagging Los Angeles, you will find your Story featured within Los Angeles Location Stories.
Much like regular Stories, your Story within Location Stories is ephemeral, lasting only up to 24 hours. As soon as the 24-hour mark is up, your Story will disappear from Location Stories.
The Future of Location Stories
With Facebook and Facebook-owned apps, new features are often created partly to improve the user experience and partly to generate more ad revenue. For example, once Instagram rolled out Instagram Stories, it tested Stories ads immediately after, as though that was the main intention behind Stories’ creation.
Monetization is not an impossible future for Location Stories. In fact, monetization could be the main reason why Instagram developed this new feature. After all, it’s not unknown that Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has been feuding with Snapchat for years, and besting the other in ad products can very well decide its fate.
Location Stories can easily turn into a geofiltered ad that people can use to promote their businesses: they create and purchase a geofilter from Instagram, which Instagram then features in the geofilters tool. When Instagrammers are in a particular area, such as a mall, an event venue, or the business’ store location, the geofilter will appear with the location information, brand name, or logo. When Instagrammers use that geofilter, the Story will then appear in Discover and the Places page of Instagram, promoting the business to a wider audience.
Yes, Instagram’s Location Stories can be its own version of Snapchat’s Sponsored Geofilters. If Instagram does not decide to monetize Location Stories, it misses out on a lucrative opportunity.