A bit over a week ago Instagram released their new feature ‘Stories’ that lets you take photos and videos of your day and show them in a slideshow. They differ from posts on your profile because after twenty four hours they disappear. So they should be more ‘real life’ than some of the now so over-staged photos you see on famous Instagram profiles. How awesome, how innovative. Oh yeah, Snapchat has been doing that for years…..
Instagram has always been about beautiful photos. Turning your phone into a professional photography studio, curated shots of your life if you will. So why the move into raw, live content?
It’s not the first time Instagram has copied another platform when it’s marketshare was being squeezed. When short video platform Vine was starting to gain popularity, Instagram brought in ten second videos to it’s platform. Vine tapered off. So no, there’s nothing innovative at all about Instagram Stories and it’s a clear move to ‘knee cap’ Snapchat’s rise to popularity. Instagram’s younger demographic stronghold was being seriously threatened.
But let’s be real about Instagram Stories. It’s not better. Snapchat has geo filters, filter lenses, animated effects, speed/direction and seems to upload a lot easier than Instagram. So it’s certainly not going to lure any devoted Snapchat fans away, but it might just keep a hold of the users that were considering moving away from Instragram.
How does it work
First of all, make sure you update your Instagram and you will then see the latest stories at the top of your screen. Very dominant in the interface, you can’t miss it. From there the functionality is pretty intuitive to view, skip and change to the next user. The time to view the slide is a little bar across the top, a nice touch.
The most recent stories do seem to show up at the start of the horizontal list, so there’s certainly an incentive to post stories frequently to be seen more often. This will undoubtedly increase the early adoption as businesses/celebrities compete for your attention.
You can message the story creator with a private direct message, but you won’t be able to like or comment publicly. This can all be controlled via your settings if you’re not wanting any direct messages from certain people. It’s a bit of a change in Instagram’s direction. Stories are more of a one way content distribution method than the conversational commenting on posts.
Will this hurt Snapchat?
You would have to think it would in some way. Instagram already has such a large user base, and combining the features of Snapchat makes it a lot more compelling to stay in Instagram for longer.
For a lot of business owners their network is larger on Instagram so this presents a way to share insights and behind the scenes footage to that existing network. Snapchat has always been a challenge for business owners that had to build their audience on the platform externally as there is no discovery feature within the app. Users are forced to promote their Snapchat username or Snapcode through other channels.
A lot of businesses have been very successful selling via Instagram, so this will only compound it’s effectiveness. Combine that with the fact you can advertise on Instagram (something Snapchat still lacks) then you have a massive weapon in your social marketing armoury.