Instagram is rolling out a new stories feature this week. You have probably seen top bloggers and celebs on your Instagram feed jumping at the chance to try Instagram stories. This is an exciting change for Instagram users and an opportunity for marketers, but what does it mean for the much loved Snapchat?
Are Snapchat’s days numbered, or is there way that both brands can flourish off the back of people’s need to share every aspect of their lives? In order to see whether Instagram can compete with Snapchat, we need to look at exactly what features each platform offers.
What exactly is Instagram Stories?
In a nutshell, Instagram stories is pretty much exactly the same as Snapchat, in that it enables you to post to post 24-hour ‘in the moment’ photos and videos slideshows that disappear.
Stories key features:
- 10-second-max photos and videos
- All stories disappear after 24 hours
- You can either upload directly from the app or upload from your phone
- Photos and videos can be enhanced with scribbles, text, drawings emojis and swipeable colour filters
- You can see who has viewed your stories
- Thanks to Instagram direct private messages, people can reply to your stories
- Stories are listed by who you interact with most.
- They show up at the top of your main feed.
- Instagram stories have no likes or public comments.
Even Instagram’s CEO, CEO Kevin Systrom, agrees that it’s a complete copy of Snapchat and that they deserve all the credit. However, he says ‘this isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.’
Both Facebook and Instagram have tried to reproduce similar platforms to Snapchat but on additional apps, and they have failed. Systrom probably concluded that there’s no need to create another app, when you can just replicate Snapchat’s successful formula within Instagram itself.
There’s minor differences in the way each platform runs, for example, Instagram has three types of drawing and SnapChat has a single brush, and you can pause a slideshow in Instagram Stories whereas on Snapchat it’s time limited. However, on the whole, they essentially do the same thing.
Currently on Instagram, most users only feature the highlights of their life. Which means that we have a rather warped sense of reality. Perhaps Instagram stories is exactly what the world of Instagram needed, so that people can share random little snippets of their lives
Instagram Stories represent content that isn’t perhaps shiny or polished enough to make people’s main feeds. This is quite refreshing, because it means stories can be raw, exciting and more instantaneous.
Bloggers may wake up in cold sweats stressing about whether that last pic they posted on their feed was pretty or cool enough, but stories disappear, so perhaps people will be a little more open.
This could open a world of opportunities to advertisers in the future, however, Systrom says that they won’t focus on monetisation until users love it. Marketers will just have to wait with baited breath. However, it’s probably safe to assume that this feature is likely to be successful, given the uptake already, the type of users on Instagram and the sheer size of the platform.
We will probably end up seeing Instagram selling adverts that point people to a brand’s story. This shows a lot of promise for many sectors, but especially events, the music business and even politicians. People will be shown stories that seem more exciting, current and pressing, rather than being directed to a static, over-polished Instagram feed.
Until this happens, Snapchat is safe when it comes to advertising, but when Stories is monetized, this could quickly change and advertisers could be tempted to move over to a bigger, more successful platform.
So is this the end of SnapChat?
Many brands may feel that Instagram is a more marketable platform to produce this sort of advertising, especially as Instagram has a much larger user base. Instagram now has a whopping 500 million monthly users and counting.
There’s obviously some hard core Snapchat users who will remain loyal, and may not feel the need to use Instagram stories, but they are likely to be the minority.
Some may say that Instagram stories is a complete rip off of Snapchat (to be fair it kind of is), but others might see Insta’s version as a platform that’s better adapted to its audience and more well considered.
Stories just seems a little less complicated and more straightforward to use, whereas Snapchat can feel a tad jumbled. Apple’s Bud Tribble wisely said “If you take something and make it your own … it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing. That is part of Apple’s DNA.” This sort of rings true for Instagram Stories.
It’s fair to say that the audience on Snapchat is significantly younger, with 76% of Millennials using Snapchat. Advertisers targeting this younger crowd might see Snapchat as a superior platform to reach out to youngsters on.
Snapchat was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown when they were students at Stanford University. It does kind of make you feel bad for Snapchat, especially as big bad Facebook owns Instagram, and everyone wants to see the little guy win (especially over a giant like Facebook), but in this case, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.