Instagram’s Testing New Ways to Navigate Through Your Stories Feed

Instagram is testing out some new ways to navigate through your Stories feed in the app, in order to help people find more Stories content that they’re interested in.

Reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong posted this example of one of the new tests in action, which would enable users to side the main Stories frame down to reveal the Stories tray at the top of the screen, then switch through to each.

Wong also noted that Instagram has tested another variation of the same in the past – which prompted Instagram chief Adam Mosseri to weigh in, confirming that they are in fact testing new options to help people navigate through their Stories stream.

The option in itself would add a different flow to Stories, and could make them easier to sift through. But more interesting is the potential shift to the next phase of the news feed, and social media navigation more broadly.

Over the past few years, Facebook has repeatedly noted that Stories are on track to overtake the News Feed as the primary surface for social media engagement.

Facebook Stories vs Feed

This chart is from 2018, and back then it already seemed that Stories would soon dominate social engagement.

Yet, despite the increasing usage of Stories, the news feed remains the dominant presentation mode in Facebook’s apps, with the main feed taking up the vast majority of screen real estate on both Instagram and Facebook.

If Stories are seeing more usage, should that change – should Stories eventually get more focus than your regular feed? And if so, how would that work? 

Maybe, Instagram will eventually open to a full-screen Stories view, which you can swipe through to see the latest. No doubt Instagram’s already considered this – but that would also have significant implications as to how people use the app, and would veer further from its original photography focus.

But maybe, this new experiment is the first step along that path. If Instagram were to find a presentation option that keeps people more engaged with Stories, that, eventually, could lead to it discovering that users are spending more time within this stream than they are in the main feed. At some point, given the usage trends, you’d think that Stories would outweigh the main feed, and Instagram might need to switch to Stories, logically, as the primary function. 

The trends suggest that this will happen anyway, and this experiment could be a step along that path.

As such, while it might seem like a minor update now, and a minor debate as to how you view Stories at present, it could become more significant in the near future.

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