Instagram Stories vs. Instagram Highlights? How long are Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories vs. Instagram Highlights

Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide, particularly among younger demographics. While the main Instagram feed allows users to share static photos and videos, Instagram also offers two additional formats – Stories and Highlights – for more engaged content sharing. 

This article explores the key differences between Instagram Stories and Highlights, how each feature can be used, and their applications for social media marketing.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories allow users to share photos, videos, polls and other content that disappears after 24 hours. Stories live at the top of the Instagram app, separated from the main feed. Users can view a profile’s Stories by tapping their avatar in the top left of the home screen.

How long do Instagram Stories last?

Unlike permanent posts on the feed, Stories have a limited visibility window of 24 hours. After that time period is up, the content will be automatically deleted from the viewer’s screens and from the owner’s profile unless they choose to pin it to their Highlights.

Uploading Stories

To create and post a Story, users simply tap the camera icon at the top left of the home screen. From there, they can take photos or record videos of up to 15 seconds each directly within the app. Text, emojis, drawings and other creative tools can be added as well before sharing.

Instagram Stories vs. Instagram Highlights

What are Instagram Highlights?

Highlights are a type of permanent post on a user’s profile that compiles their Stories into viewable collections. Rather than disappearing after 24 hours like normal Stories, Highlights remain on the profile indefinitely for viewers to browse at any time.

Creating Highlights

To make a new Highlight, users can select the paper plane icon at the top right of their profile. From there, they can give the Highlight a title and icon. Highlights are displayed as circular tiles on a profile for easy browsing.

Adding posts to Highlights

After creating a Highlight, any Story that was posted within the last 30 days can be added to it by selecting the “pin” option. Highlights can hold an unlimited number of Stories.

Editing Highlights

The order of Stories within a Highlight, their titles, icons and other settings can all be modified at any time in the Highlights section of the profile. Stories may also be removed or rearranged as needed.

Key Differences Between Stories and Highlights

The main differences between Stories and Highlights center around visibility, storage, and sharing capabilities.

Visibility and Discovery

Stories are visible to followers for just 24 hours on the Stories tab. Highlights maintain content indefinitely on a profile where it can be casually browsed.


Normal Stories disappear after 24 hours, while Highlights act as a permanent storage space for compiled Stories content.


Individual Stories cannot be shared to other platforms, but entire Highlights can be shared as permanent Instagram posts or links.

Using Stories and Highlights for Social Media Marketing

Both formats provide unique benefits for engaging with followers and promoting content/brands on Instagram.

Engaging Followers

Stories enable daily, ephemeral sharing to maintain an engaging presence. They allow for quick, casual sharing of moments throughout the day that followers can view once before they disappear. 

This helps keep the account feeling authentic and timely. Highlights help followers get quickly caught up on highlights from past Stories. Rather than having to scroll back through old Stories, highlights compile the most important or share-worthy snippets in one permanent place.

Growing Your Audience

Stories promote discovery and encourage engagement through polling, questions and interactive stickers. People scrolling through their Stories feeds are more likely to engage with accounts they don’t already follow if there are engaging questions or polls. 

This helps gain new followers overtime. Highlights showcase the value of following a profile long-term. By featuring curated highlights from the past, they entice new viewers to start following to get regular updates and not miss out on interesting content.

Promoting Content and Products

Stories allow promotion of new blog posts, products and services each day in an informal, relatable way. Short promotional blurbs can be shared as Stories without feeling like traditional ads. 

Links and swipe-ups also make it easy to drive traffic. Highlights offer a way for profiles to make select past promotions permanently discoverable. Rather than relying on followers to see promotions the day they’re shared, highlights archive promotional content so new and prospective customers can discover relevant past offerings. 

Tying highlights to top posts or most popular products keeps promotions accessible.


In summary, Instagram Stories offer an engaging format for daily, ephemeral sharing while Highlights provide a permanent home for selected Stories content. Both have their place for social interaction and marketing strategies on Instagram depending on the goals. With practice, creators can utilize both formats together to maximize visibility, promotion, and audience growth over time.

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