Last week, Instagram announced “Stories” — a new feature that lets users post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Stories provide Instagram users with a new place to post content at a higher frequency. Instagram is typically reserved for brands’ best looking pictures; the Stories feature opens the floodgates for users to post moments that are less planned, less “picture-perfect” and more spontaneous.
The only catch is that this new feature is not new to social media at all. Snapchat has the same feature, and get this — it’s also called “Stories”. In an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom admitted to using the same format as Snapchat. In fact, Systrom said “they deserve all the credit.”
Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
This “rip-off” of Snapchat, as some pundits are calling it, may be less of a blatant copy and more simply a progression of social media applications as a whole. For example, Facebook invented the “News Feed,” then LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter all introduced their own versions of it. No one shamed them for using features that work well and are user friendly. Ironically, Snapchat adopted the filters feature years ago from Instagram!
Instagram is now returning the compliment, however it used very little creativity in making its version of Snapchat’s Stories feature. The only real difference is that you can rewind and pause Stories on Instagram, which I guess is a perk to users (but not necessarily marketers). At any rate, this nuance is far from revolutionary.
You’d think that with Facebook’s recent purchase of Instagram, the latter could have benefitted from the resources of the largest social media platform in the world, no?
Which Platform Is Better For Brands?
For a brand, Instagram is more welcoming than Snapchat because it has a larger and older audience. It’s also easier to search for a company on Instagram, even if you don’t know its exact handle on Snapchat. This helps brands build a larger following more quickly.
According to its website, Instagram has 300 million daily users, while Snapchat has about 150 million. The difference between the platforms is even more pronounced when you look at activity levels on the respective channels. Snapchat boasts 400 million snaps are sent a day, while 70 million Instagram posts are uploaded daily. This new update will most definitely increase posting to Instagram, and possibly correspond with a decrease in Snapchats sent.
Instagram has reached a point where some brands are apprehensive about posting pictures without including the wittiest captions and the best lighting. This reduction in posts has led to a reduction in authenticity for companies on the social media platform. The Stories feature is a new opportunity to add some authenticity to the content that appears in the feed. With Stories, brands now have a place to tell a different side of their story and breathe some new life into their typical posts and feed.
This new feature also has the potential to bypass the new Instagram algorithm. For example, on the story sharing space, the most recent posts are given priority over posts with the highest number of likes for old Instagram picture posts. Beating the algorithm means more viewers, which means more likes. And everyone wants more likes, right?
Brands now have more freedom and flexibility when venturing into the live video spectrum. Although posts aren’t fully live, per se, they can be viewed in a similar “instantaneous” fashion. Facebook and Snapchat have live video. For all practical purposes, Instagram does now too. It’s a very authentic and engaging way to interact with fans and consumers. Although Instagram Stories doesn’t allow for uninterrupted broadcasts like Facebook Live or Periscope, it will be a new platform for users to visit and get up-to-date, quick, bite-sized content.
If you already have an active presence on Instagram, this is an open invitation to reach consumers on their terms. Stories can’t be liked, so there is little risk in experimenting with Snapchat-like content. Create some light-hearted and behind-the-scenes content that you wouldn’t normally share on Instagram and see how it works using the new Story feature. Feel free to let us know how it goes by dropping a comment below, or sending us a link on Twitter.