As you’ll all have no doubt seen by now, in the last fortnight Instagram launched a Stories feature, at face value almost identical to Snapchat’s own Stories functionality. As Pablo Picasso (may have) said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.
Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom is shameless in this regard. He gives Snapchat full credit for the format. Truthfully, the raw format makes sense if Instagram is to capture more of users’ everyday, less-polished moments – the moments Snapchat has made its bread and butter.
And while many may be quick to label Instagram Stories as a rip-off that could never match Snapchat’s intimate nature, one only has to look at the top of their Instagram feed to see the rate of uptake.
Format, format, format.
Snapchat’s success can be attributed in large part to the format – the ability and expectation to share and see real and raw snippets of everyday life and random moments. It’s this imperfection and authenticity that has set sharing on Snapchat apart from sharing on other social platforms.
Research by Social Soup earlier this year showed that the top reason Australians viewed Snapchat as different to Instagram was that there’s “less pressure on posting quality content”. So when there’s less pressure on everything shared to be a work of art, guess what? We all share more freely. And where we share more freely, we consume more freely, and stay for longer.
Take the self-described ‘King of Snapchat’ DJ Khaled. No production, no preparation – by just hitting the record button on Snapchat, he gives his millions of followers a real window into who he is and what he’s up to.
The battle for attention.
So the format works, but how loyal are Snapchatters to the yellow ghost? Globally, around half of Snapchatters are also on Instagram.
What remains however to be seen is whether this group will trade off their time in Snapchat in favour of using Instagram Stories. American app usage data shows that the launch of Instagram Stories has had no noteworthy impact on Snapachat’s daily usage so far.
The likely reason: Snapchat is just plain fun, in a way that Instagram has a long road ahead to challenge. What other app on my iPhone am I going to spend minutes playing around with to see an augmented reality dog version of myself?
Certainly don’t write off Instagram Stories as a laughable attempt to cash in on a trend. For both an expanded audience that’s not yet jumped onto Snapchat and many existing Snapchat users, Instagram Stories presents a simple and intuitive interface that leaves no room for confusion. Conversely, Snapchat’s highly-visual gesture-based interface that helped make it so exciting to initial adopters and ongoing loyalists does leave many scratching their heads.
Many brands, publishers, celebrities and influencers already have massive followings on Instagram. Audiences they can share Stories with right away, without needing build their followers from the ground up again on Snapchat.
Under the careful hand of Facebook, Instagram will inevitably roll out smart and effective advertising opportunities for brands. Presumably this will include the ability for placements to be planned and bought in line with existing Facebook and Instagram advertising, and the rich analytics we’ve come to expect.
Watch this space.