In “Bambi Meets Godzilla,” an unknowing little deer munches cheerfully in the meadow just long enough to generate a few “ah’s” from the equally innocent audience. A few seconds later a prehistorically large foot appears and Bambi is no more. As the guys laughed at the gallows humor they were pummeled by their dates with weak fists and firm “how could you’s?” These divergent reactions pretty much sum up our feelings about Instagram Stories.
With the launch of Instagram Stories, Facebook is cast (yet again) in the role of Godzilla’s foot. A few years back they pretty much obliterated Foursquare and Gowalla (which Facebook had acquired), simply by adding the check-in feature to Facebook. It couldn’t be any more obvious that Facebook’s goal with Stories is to squash Snapchat. Stories, for those of you who aren’t on Instagram, is pretty much an exact replica of Snapchat – a fact worth ranting about.
Admittedly with over 100 million users and pundits like Jay Baer calling it “the second most powerful social network,” it might be hard to think of Snapchat as the naïve Bambi but “bear” with us. Snapchat is the youngest of the big 6 and caters to a younger audience. Snaps are the epitome of adolescence, spirited ephemera to be shared with minimal forethought. And then there is the fact that Snapchat had the youthful audacity to turn down a rumored $3 billion offer from Facebook. So yeah Snapchat is Bambi and we’re rooting for you.
Then along comes a lumbering Facebook to crush Snapchat’s dreams. What’s amazing here is that Facebook didn’t even try to hide its steps. Stories is feature for feature, function for function, a near perfect replica of Snapchat. If this happened in another industry, particularly in one with a dominant competitor like Facebook, it might be classified as “predatory” and cease and desist orders would surely have been granted. But even if Stories isn’t a violation of trademark law, it is a violation of entrepreneurial imagination – surely Facebook you could have brought something new to the party?
In this analogy, Instagram is or perhaps was the pristine meadow, ripe with beauteous panoramas and blissful close-ups. Flicking through images and videos on Instagram was a brief vacation from the mundane with soothing if not nourishing eye-candy for the soul. Forcing Stories into Instagram is like dropping a video arcade into Bambi’s meadow – it might attract some younger users but the disruption is bound to change the place and not necessarily for the better.
With the fatalism that made the boys laugh at Bambi’s demise, we at Social Media Explorer begrudgingly encourage all marketers out there to start experimenting with Instagram Stories despite its lack of originality. As is typical with big platform changes, the spoils come to the early adopters, the ones who recognize that being first offers its own perceptual rewards. Sorry Bambi, we’ve shed a tear but life goes on!