Instagram has announced the launch of Stories, a new feature which introduces the concept of fun and ephemeral posts that disappear after 24 hours. Sound familiar?
It wasn’t long ago when I was writing about the big battle between Facebook and Snapchat with the latter trying hard over the past year to challenge the most popular social network, seeing quite a lot of success in some areas.
However, Facebook wasn’t ready to lose its domination on every aspect, so it decided to use Instagram this time as an alternative way of battling Snapchat in what made it sp popular… its ephemerality.
Snapchat’s audience loved the idea of ephemeral content which disappears after 24 hours, as this was more authentic and spontaneous. Stories was all about blending many different snaps and creating a storytelling event throughout the day, that could be either consistent, or completely irrelevant from one snap to the next.
Instagram isn’t ashamed to name its new feature in the exact same way, using the same small circles for each user, only changing the spot the stories appear, placing them on top of the platform.
According to their blog post:
“With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.”
Instagram’s CEO gives credit to Snapchat
We’re not used to seeing one social network giving credit to another for an idea, but Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, couldn’t deny the similarity between the two Stories.
That’s why he mentioned this to TechCrunch:
“When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. 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.”
And he continues reminding us of the different audience:
“We’re bringing some new creative outlets with ‘neon drawing.’ You have different ways of navigating back and forth with this. You have a completely different audience. If you’re a business, if you’re a celebrity, if you’re an interest-based account, you can have a giant audience. It’s going to feel very different. I don’t believe these two things are substitutes, and that’s okay.”
How users reacted to #InstagramStories
We weren’t surprised to discover all the following tweets about #InstagramStories and how Instagram clearly copied Snapchat. These are some of our favourite reactions:
— Tv réalité (@realitetv_news) August 3, 2016
— Missguided (@Missguided) August 3, 2016
— Matthew James Morgan (@MattMO2Go) August 3, 2016
— James Mazey (@jamesmazey) August 3, 2016
What does it mean for Snapchat?
It will be very interesting to examine whether Snapchat will be affected by Instagram’s addition, especially in a longer term. As ephemerality arrives on a bigger social network, in the most obvious and identical way, will Snapchat be able to motivate its audience to remain on the platform?
The two social networks certainly share a common target audience, with Instagram reaching more users though, while it also has Facebook’s support in terms of popularity and innovation.
Snapchat still offers the face filters, the geo filters and the curation of live content, while the Discover section is hoping to establish a new type of content consumption. All these things cannot be ignored, but they may not be enough sooner or later, especially if Facebook and Instagram continue to imitate its features.
Now it’s up to Snapchat to react accordingly and strengthen its attributes, in order to proceed to a more mature stage where competition will only be higher. And that’s a really challenging task.
What does it mean for users?
Users of both social networks need to decide which of the two platforms they’ll use more from now on regarding this particular feature and this may depend on the target audience they prefer. As more users flock on Instagram, do you want to reach a larger audience, or do you prefer to remain loyal to Snapchat and its fun dog filters?
I am expecting a period of confusion soon with the fact that the features are too similar among the two platforms and this may affect Snapchat’s engagement, but this won’t last long, as sooner or later only one of the two will prevail.
Is there any reason to use both platforms to share your daily stories, or do you have so many stories to share that you’ll use each platform accordingly?
For the time being, I felt quite confused with Instagram’s initial layout for the Stories, which may be another factor on whether someone prefers Snapchat’s user experience.
What does it mean for social media managers?
Many social media managers must have thought: “Great, I was just trying to explain to my clients how Snapchat Stories work, at least I won’t have to do it again”
However, an interesting question is whether they should share different content on the two platforms when posting about a company now that they both have the same creative concept with stories.
Should you post the same stories on both, or does this mean that you’ll need to come up with more creative ideas to differentiate the company’s content from one platform to another?
Also, some people believe that Instagram’s move will be crucial for Snapchat’s future and this reminded them of Vine, and how it disappeared when everyone Instagram started copying it.
The discussion is ongoing and it’s a topic that is not expected to end soon.
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