Instagram is rolling out a private archive of the ephemeral stories you have posted in the app. Starting today, Instagram will begin to add your expired stories to the archive feature, which until now has been used only to house photos and videos you no longer want to display on your public profile. The stories archive, which you will be able to opt out of, is being introduced globally on Android and iOS.
The stories archive represents another feature copied from Snapchat, which introduced its own version of the archive, called Memories, last year. But the archive differs from Snap’s version in one key respect: Instagram will let you post old stories to your profile in a feature the company is calling Highlights. You’ll be able to package old stories together in the archive, give them a name, and share them to your profile, where they will appear above your other posts.
Instagram says Highlights represent the biggest change to profiles in years. Among other things, the move how stories are gradually eating Instagram from the inside out. From the start, they were placed at the top of the feed; now they’re at the top of the profile as well.
Instagram says a significant (though undisclosed) number of users were downloading their stories daily, and other users complained that they had intended to but forgot. A private archive represents an obvious-to-the-point-of-being-inevitable solution.
The archive is presented in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent stories at the top. Stories are stamped with a date to help you navigate while you scroll. Once you select a story, you can re-share it to other parts of Instagram — as a post to your profile, say, or as a direct message.
As a practical matter, the existence of Snapchat Memories all but required Instagram to build its own version. At times, I’ve used Snapchat to post stories because I know they’ll be saved, and I won’t have to remember to download them within 24 hours. The flip side is that I rarely return to my old stories, wherever I’ve posted them — the posts are intended to be ephemeral, after all. I expect Instagram will eventually play with ways of re-surfacing old stories to users the way Timehop does — otherwise, they may not spend much time diving into the past.
The more dramatic change introduced with the archive is with Highlights. Until now, Instagram profiles have been places for carefully manicured self-presentation. “In a lot of ways, people get to know you through Instagram and your profile,” says Robby Stein, product lead at Instagram. “It’s such an important space, but it’s also one that hasn’t changed very much.”
Highlights could enliven profiles with the typically more candid photos and videos that often appear in stories. As a byproduct, they’ll likely increase the amount of video on most people’s profiles as well. I suspect brands may like Highlights more than regular users do — they offer a convenient way to package related content together and surface it in a prominent place in the app.
You can create as many Highlights as you want, with the most recent one appearing left-most on the screen. You scroll through them horizontally, as with stories in the feed. To create one, open up a story in the archive and tap the ellipsis (...) button to get started. After selecting the stories you want to package together, you pick a cover photo, give it a name, and post it to your profile.
When the story archive is available to your account, you’ll get a notification inside the app. Instagram won’t begin saving your stories until that notification appears, and it offers a link to opt out if you choose.