In May, Instagram released two new features to help people find Stories related to their interests.

Through the Explore tab, users can now search by location or hashtag, and scroll through a compilation of Instagram Stories that have a particular location sticker, hashtag sticker, or hashtag in a caption. The Explore tab also features select Location Stories captured in nearby places. For example: if you’re in San Francisco, you may see Stories of a jog at Crissy Field, a Giants game at AT&T Park, or a night out in the Mission.

Instagram wrote in a blog post: “From discovering new parts of your own city to jogging alongside the #fromwhereirun community all around the world, location and hashtag stories help you share these experiences as they unfold.”

Snapchat may have been the first to debut the Stories functionality – ephemeral posts that are viewable for 24 hours before disappearing – but Instagram has surpassed it in popularity since its debut in August 2016. This month, Instagram Stories hit 250 million daily active users – a big jump from 200 million in April, and 150 million in January. By contrast, Snapchat has 166 million daily active users for its entire app.

The addition of Location and Hashtag Stories demonstrates Instagram’s investment in the feature. And it’s good news for brands that want to reach users based on interests or geographic location.

How to Use Hashtag Stories

When you create a Story, start typing a hashtag, and you’ll see a list of suggested trending hashtags to include. Add the hashtags you want, and once your Story is live, each hashtag will become hyperlinked. When others users tap the hashtag, they’ll be taken to a page of posts that also use it. They can explore more related Stories by tapping the circled hashtag at the top of the page.

How to Use Location Stories

Location Stories function in a similar way. Before you post your Story, select a Location sticker – whether it’s a broad city category, like Washington, D.C., a neighborhood, like Columbia Heights, or a specific restaurant, museum, bar, etc.

Tips for Brands 

  • Select hashtags relevant to your Stories, not just because they’re trending
  • Experiment with a mix of general and niche hashtags
  • Be an ambassador for your city and neighborhood; get in the habit of crafting Stories in your favorite places
  • Look for brandable Location Stories; for example, a sports equipment company could create Stories in the best places to work out around the city
  • Track impressions and reach in Instagram Insights to see which Stories are most popular
  • Give a shout-out and tag other accounts when it makes sense; for example, if you’re at the same event with other brands
  • Partner with influencers (for example, through a temporary Instagram account takeover) to widen your audience


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