Instagram is a non-negotiable platform for social media marketers; there will be almost 1.2 billion Instagram users in 2023, and the most successful brands know that Stories are one of the most powerful ways to reach them.
But unlike the Instagram Posts or Reels that become a permanent part of your brand’s profile page (unless you manually archive or delete them), Instagram Stories have a much shorter lifespan — they disappear automatically after 24 hours.
Luckily, just because a Story has vanished from the feed doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. In this article, we’ll show you how to access your Instagram Stories even after they disappear so you can stay on top of your social media no matter what.
What You’ll Learn:
While other companies like Snapchat and Whatsapp also offer disappearing content, the Instagram app remains the platform of choice for brands. On average, brands post around 10 Instagram Stories per month, which works out to about one every three days. It’s no surprise that retention rate (the ability to keep viewers engaged from frame to frame within a Story) decreases as the number of frames posted increases.
So while more and more brands are using Instagram Stories as part of their marketing strategies, they aren’t necessarily posting more often or posting Stories with more frames.
That slower pace and irregular cadence can make it easy to lose track of your own content. Once a Story disappears, it’s easy to be left wishing you’d taken a screenshot or saved the content for posterity. Before we explain how to access expired Stories, let’s examine why brands might want to view old Instagram Stories in the first place:
Even though Instagram Stories vanish after 24 hours, chances are you spend just as much time creating stellar content for a Story as you would for an Instagram Post. You’re choosing the right brand assets or UGC to share, adding native features like hashtags, stickers, and music, getting cuts and transitions just right, and making sure you put your best foot forward with every Story frame. That’s a lot of effort for a piece of content that’s going to disappear in a day. If you don’t take the time to save Instagram Stories as you post them and you don’t know how to access them once they disappear, you’re essentially flushing all the time and resources you’ve invested down the drain.
In addition to wanting to make the most of your creative investment, many brands repurpose Instagram Stories for other uses. Ad campaigns are the most common use case, but brands can also repurpose Instagram Stories as Instagram Posts or content for other social media platforms, to add color to UGC-focused investor deck slides, to promote partnership and affiliate programs, and to provide social proof on e-commerce websites.
If you do manually download every Instagram Story you post, it’s easy to clog up your camera roll quickly. Whether you’re saving each frame to your phone or managing a filing system on a work desktop or laptop, downloading and saving hard copy files takes a lot of storage space. Once you know how to view old Stories even after they expire, you can take advantage of the Instagram app’s built-in memory instead of having to manage and pay for your own content or data storage solution.
Now onto the question of the day: how to view old Instagram Stories. Let’s start with the basics of how to access your own Story after it disappears from your feed. Regardless of whether you use the app on Android or iPhone/iOS, the key feature you need to know about is the Instagram archive (not to be confused with the brand, Archive, AKA us 👋).
Instagram’s built-in archive feature automatically saves all your Stories inside the app. It’s usually turned on by default, but here’s a tutorial on how to find your privacy settings and check if your archive folder is activated:
As we all know, Instagram changes their interface pretty regularly. These are the right steps at time of writing, but if you run into any trouble it’s worth checking Instagram’s help center for the most up to date info about the feature.
The best part about Instagram’s archive is that the feature is available for your eyes only; you can browse all your archived Stories and work with your content on your own time. No one else can see your Stories after the 24-hour time limit, so it’s basically private storage inside the Instagram app. Here’s how to view the Stories in your Instagram archive:
You can use the icons at the top of your Stories archive to see a continuous feed, calendar view, or map of the world (if you added a location sticker to any of your past Stories). Tapping on any Story in your Instagram archive will show you who liked or interacted with it while it was live, or allow you to repost it as a new Story, turn it into an Instagram Post, send it in a DM, or save it to your phone’s camera roll.
Unfortunately, you cannot view someone else’s past Stories after they expire. If an Instagram account tags your brand and you don’t see or save the Story before it disappears, it really is gone forever.
While this isn’t ideal for brands prioritizing UGC collection, it is an important privacy measure designed to keep Instagram app users safe and uphold the same standards for everyone. With that said, there are a few hacks that can help you view old Instagram Stories without breaking the rules.
The first way to view old Stories is to check the influencer’s Instagram Highlights; if someone adds a Story to their Highlight, it will remain active on their Instagram account until it’s manually removed or the Highlight is deleted.
Story Highlights live below the profile picture and bio and above the post grid on each user’s Instagram profile. If a user has multiple Highlights on their Instagram account, the most recently updated one will appear first.
If you’re trying to view old Instagram Stories that someone posted about your brand, it’s a good idea to check their recent Highlights to look for Stories that mention your brand. If they’re saved to a Highlight, they’ll survive the standard 24-hour Story lifespan and you’ll still be able to view and download them.
If you have a relationship with the influencer in question, you can also reach out to them directly to ask for a copy of the Story after it’s disappeared. Even if you haven’t already worked out a collab or a partnership agreement, it’s probably worth a try to make contact.
If the influencer already saved their own Instagram Story, they should be able to easily share it with you. If they didn’t save it before it disappeared, they can follow the same steps we just went over to download a copy from their Instagram archive and send it to your brand team.
The best way to view old Instagram Stories is to save them automatically before they disappear. That’s where we can help — Archive is an AI-driven social commerce platform that automatically detects and captures all the Instagram Stories your brand is tagged in. Because we save those Stories for you in real time, you never have to worry about missing out on Stories or catching them before they disappear.
Instead of endlessly scrolling your social media feeds in search of UGC that tags your brand, you can visit your Archive library whenever you want to see all the Instagram Stories, Feed Posts, Reels, and TikTok Videos your brand is tagged in, all in one place. Organize your UGC to your heart’s content, share it with your team and collaborators, and repurpose it for your next brand campaign. Get started with a free trial of Archive today and never miss another Instagram Story.