Instagram Reels vs Story: What’s The Difference

Updated on April 12, 2024

9 min to read

Content Writer

Published July 20, 2022

Instagram Reels vs Story: What’s The Difference
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Instagram Reels vs Story—how are they different and why should you care?

We recently published a comprehensive IG Reels tutorial where we talk a bit about the inner workings of IG Reels. However, if you’re trying to figure out whether to use IG Reels or IG Stories for your client’s Instagram marketing campaigns, then this guide is for you.

Table of contents

What you’ll learn:

  • Instagram Reels vs Story: What’s the difference?
  • Instagram Reels vs Story: Which is better for your clients?
  • What to consider when deciding between Reels vs Story
  • Additional resources
  • Instagram Reels vs Story FAQs
  • Dominate Instagram Story and Reels now

Instagram Reels vs Story: What’s the difference?

Here are the key differences between Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels: 

1. Length

Instagram Reels can be up to 90 seconds long—six times more than the 15 seconds allowed in Instagram Stories. 

This makes Instagram Reels more in-depth than Stories. 

If a client’s story requires more than 15 seconds, you must upload multiple clips over the day. Users will see them in succession when they view the Story through the Instagram app.

[Must read: Best Questions to Ask on Instagram Story for Brands]

2. Availability

Instagram Reels can be added to your client’s profile feed. They’ll also stay discoverable in the dedicated “Reels” tab until deleted.

Screenshot of sample reels from @SeanGarner IG
Image Source:, @SeanGarner

Instagram Stories, however, will only stay up for 24 hours after posting. This makes the Reels feature a better choice if you need to promote evergreen content.

To save Instagram Stories, save the clip to your device or turn them into highlights. These will remain visible below your client’s profile description. 

Screenshot of sample reels from @49North.Digital IG
Image Source:, @49North.Digital

3. Discoverability 

Reels can be discovered in multiple areas of the Instagram app. Users can find Reels from the Instagram app’s dedicated “Reels” tab, their “Explore” page, and their home feeds. 

Popular Reels may also appear on the “Use effect” page whenever users try to use the same effect. 

Sample popular reels in IG.
Image Source: Instagram app

Reels also have a high chance of appearing in hashtag search results. 

Instagram Stories, however, are only likely to be seen by the account’s followers. 

Users can find Stories on the account’s profile page by tapping their profile picture. They’re also discoverable through the Stories viewer as long as users keep swiping left. 

[Must read: 487+ Best, Most Popular, Viral Hashtags for Instagram this 2022]

4. Features 

Instagram Reels has more advanced video editing tools than Instagram Stories. 

Reels lets you stitch several clips into a single video and use the align tool to create seamless transitions. You can also adjust the Reel’s playback speed, import original audio, and set timers to record flawless clips.

[Must read: 431+ Best One-Word Instagram Captions to COPY & PASTE! [2022]]

Screenshot of IG align tool.
Image Source: Instagram app

Although Instagram Stories lacks features for merging clips, it offers more stickers to make your Stories more active. You can do things like:

  • Add Yours: Encourage followers to submit a photo based on a prompt (i.e. “Add your latest photo wearing our product”). 
  • Questions: Ask your client’s followers a question or invite them to ask questions instead. 
  • Countdown: Show a countdown to build excitement around an event. 
  • Link: Bring users to a landing page or other social media accounts. 

Instagram Reels and Stories share the same filters and AR camera effects. A key difference is you can use them longer with Instagram Reels due to length limitations. 

[Must read: Most Viewed Instagram Videos that SMM Agencies Can Learn From]

5. User saving

Stories can only be saved by the Instagram account that uploaded them. Instagram Reels, however, can be saved by any user. 

These allow users to view the Reels they saved whenever they want.

Saved Reels can be viewed under the “Saved” tab, which is accessible through their Instagram profile page.

Screenshot of IG saved reels
Image Source:

6. Sharing

Users can share Instagram Reels and Stories through email, direct messaging, and other social media platforms.

Shared Instagram Reels remain accessible as long as they aren’t deleted by the owner. Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, even with a direct link.

Since Reels can be added as Instagram feed posts, they can also be shared on a website. Plugins like Smash Balloon can automatically pull your client’s entire Instagram feed and embed them using different layouts.

Screenshot of carousel layout from Smash Balloon
Image Source:

7. Audio 

Reels and Stories let you use audio from Instagram’s music library. 

For Stories, this is only available through the music sticker. For Reels, music can be added through the audio tool or by tapping the ‘Use audio’ button.

Screenshot of IG reels audio.
Image Source: Instagram app

Instagram Reels also lets you import original audio from another video, add a voiceover, and insert sound effects.

Can you imagine how captivating your Reels can become when you add voiceovers or other sound effects?

You can narrate over your videos or make a totally different story from what the video originally was.

Talk about repurposing content on steroids!

These options make Reels more versatile than Stories in creating video content. 

8. How Viewers Engage

Stories can only be viewed by your followers, so connecting with IG users on a larger scale won’t work.

However, Stories can compensate through the meaningful engagement they bring since you can start a poll, ask questions, sell products, and more to a tightly knit group.

The high interaction it generates with your followers is invaluable for improving conversions, collecting data, and engaging them by sliding into your DMs.

On the other hand, since Reels are set to public, so is its engagement.

Viewers, whether they’re your followers or not, can engage by commenting, liking, tagging others, sharing your content, and so on.

Post Reels as Stories to boost engagement. This allows your posts to be viewed by more people, maximizing engagement potential.

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Instagram Reels vs Story: Which is better for your clients?

Instagram Reels and Instagram Stories have a lot in common. 

They let users upload short-form videos on Instagram. They also share several editing features, like stickers, Augmented Reality (AR) effects, and custom layouts. 

However, their unique features make them more suitable for specific areas of social media marketing. 

1. Generating new leads (Instagram Reels)

Instagram Reels expose your client to more Instagram users, including those who don’t follow them. They are also more shareable, searchable, and discoverable in and out of Instagram.

Tips for using Instagram Reels for lead generation: 

  • Take advantage of trending effects and music to reach a wider audience. 
  • Add hashtags to improve the searchability of your Reels. 
  • Promote Reels with evergreen content on other social media platforms.
  • Schedule Instagram Reels at optimal times to improve their visibility. 

[Must read: How to Get Followers on Instagram Without Following]

2. Relationship building (Instagram Stories)

Instagram Stories offer a more authentic experience to existing followers. They appear on top of their home feeds and, with their short duration, inspire a sense of exclusivity and urgency.

Tips for using Instagram Stories for lead nurturing: 

  • Share “behind-the-scenes” Stories to win the trust of your client’s followers. 
  • Use interactive stickers (questions, polls, etc.) to extract audience insights. 
  • Promote upcoming events with countdowns. 

[Must Read: 142+ Instagram Poll Questions to Ask Your Followers]

3. Promoting content (Instagram Reels and Stories)

Instagram Stories and Reels are great for promoting content. 

Reels let you cover entire topics in video form with its 90-second limit. Stories, on the other hand, can include links that will take traffic back to your website. 

Tips for using Instagram Reels and Stories for content promotions: 

  • Write captivating post descriptions that end with a CTA or question. 
  • Share quick tips or “hacks” that help your client’s audience make the most out of their products.
  • Turn your existing video content into Reels to cater to Instagram app users. 

[Must read: Content Pillars for Instagram: Examples, Tips, And Steps]

What to consider when deciding between Instagram Reels vs Story

Consider the following factors before deciding to publish Reels or Stories for your clients. 

  • Audience engagement. Instagram Reels and Stories have high engagement potential. Stories are great for sharing real-time updates or behind-the-scenes content with followers, and Reels are excellent for sharing entertaining and more in-depth posts. Think about the type of engagement your clients’ audiences prefer and tailor the content and format accordingly. 
  • Content duration. Consider the depth of your client’s message and whether it fits better in a shorter snippet (Story) or a slightly longer format (Reels). 
  • Creativity vs. authenticity. Reels allow you to be more creative and polished with your content, while Stories are better suited for raw, authentic content with fewer filters and effects. Think about the style that your clients want to convey through their content, whether they want to showcase their more creative or authentic side. 
  • Objectives and goals. Consider your clients’ overarching Instagram marketing goals. Do they want to raise brand awareness, boost engagement, or drive traffic? Think about creating Reels or Stories based on what content format will best help them achieve those goals. 
  • Test and experiment. Explore and test Reels and Stories to see what resonates best with your clients’ target audiences. Keep refining your approach and learn from audience responses to improve your clients’ Instagram Stories and Reels. 

Additional resources

Take your clients’ Instagram marketing efforts to the next level by getting tried and tested tips from these related articles. 

Instagram Reels vs Story FAQs

Why should I post Reels instead of Stories? 

Posting Reels or Stories has specific advantages since each format can work best depending on your client’s content and target audiences. 

Instagram Stories are typically meant for sharing more private content that is meant to engage your client’s loyal followers. 

On the other hand, Reels are public videos that can attract non-followers or new audiences who are potentially new followers. 

If your client’s goal is to reach more people and increase their following, they’re better off sharing Reels to attract new followers. 

Can you turn your Instagram Stories into Reels?


First, turn on the option to automatically save Instagram Stories to your gallery. 

After posting the Story, create a Reel, upload the Story post saved in your device’s gallery, and publish the Reel. 

You can also share Story highlights as Reels.

Open the highlight, tap the Create icon, and share the Story highlight as a Reel in your client’s Instagram feed.  

Do Instagram Reels expire?


Instagram Reels will stay in your clients’ feeds or Reels page forever unless they’re removed or deleted.

Instagram can also remove the Reels if they violate the Community Guidelines.

How do you share Instagram Reels as Stories?

Share your clients’ IG Reels to their Stories by following these steps:

  • Open the Reel you want to share as a Story.
  • Tap the share icon below the Reel. 
  • Select Add to story.

Instagram will display the first 60 seconds of the Reel if it’s longer than a minute. Viewers will see an option to watch the entire Reel when it’s posted as a Story.

Do Reels or Stories get more views?

Generally, Reels have a higher potential to get more views than Stories.

Instagram’s algorithm is similar to TikTok. It allows Reels to reach followers and non-followers.

The wider the reach, the more opportunities to boost views.

However, only followers can view Stories, which means they reach fewer people than Reels.

Dominate Instagram Story and Reels now

Get the most out of Instagram Reels and Stories with Vista Social. 

Manage all your client’s social media in one place, schedule content at the best times, and measure your success with in-depth reporting.

Vista Social also helps you with the following: 

  • Instantly generate Instagram post taglines, captions, and descriptions and improve comment and DM replies using the platform’s ChatGPT-powered AI Assistant. The handy feature speeds up creating posts and replying to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other messages from your clients’ linked profiles. 
  • Drive more traffic and boost conversions with a robust link in bio tool that comes with customizable landing pages that you can turn into a mini website for your clients’ products, services, and brands. 
  • Plan, develop, and manage all your clients’ Instagram and other social media content in one content calendar. You can also generate workflows to simplify content review, approval, and legal compliance. 
  • Manage all your clients’ conversations and engagement through the platform’s Social Inbox. 
  • Find popular and relevant hashtags within seconds using Vista Social’s AI hashtag generator to help your clients’ posts reach new and larger audiences. 
  • Bulk schedule your clients’ Instagram Stories, Reels, carousel posts, and other content. 
  • Find trending audio for your clients’ Instagram posts without leaving Vista Social. You can also upload your own music and sounds. 
  • Tag products and locations and mention other users in your clients’ Instagram posts directly from Vista Social.
  • Edit and customize your clients’ photos and videos before posting them to Instagram with the platform’s Canva integration. You can create, edit, and import your designs via Canva’s handy design tools and schedule them to auto-publish across your clients’ social media pages.

Create a free account here and start today!

About the Author

Content Writer

Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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