This week Instagram announced the launch of Instagram Stories, a new feature which allows users to compile multiple photos and videos into a slideshow which will make up your ‘story’. If your day to day life isn’t sufficiently interesting, then your story, which will be deleted after 24 hours, can be spruced up with text and wacky filters.
I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t someone think of this before?
Okay, so someone did think of this before, and if you know anything about social media at all then you’ll know that this is, to put it kindly, an emulation of the popular Snapchat stories.
To be fair to Instagram, they have at least acknowledged the debt their new feature owes to Snapchat. But why are they risking incurring the wrath of the internet by copying a well known and well loved feature of their most prominent and direct rival?
The Snapchat Effect
The answer is obvious – Instagram is clearly attempting to regain some of the market it has lost to Snapchat. The young upstart is now the social media place to share your life in real time. The transitory nature of the platform, with ‘snaps’ disappearing into the ether after 10 seconds if unsaved, seems to foster an environment of candour, with users willing to share moments of their life, for better or worse, which they may be unwilling to share elsewhere. Instagram meanwhile, has become a victim of its own success. Its polished filters allowed people to present themselves in the very best light, but it now risks being relegated to the place where people share the greatest hits of their life, while they share their actual life on Shapchat. Clearly, they hope to redress the balance with Instagram Stories, though only time will tell if they can compete with Snapchat on what has become its own turf.
What Instagram Stories Could Mean For Business
Despite Snapchat’s meteoric rise as a major social media player, it has yet to be fully adopted by the business world. This is partially explained by Snapchat’s (perhaps unfair) reputation as the playground of tweens and teenagers, and its relatively steep new user learning curve. Successful organic use of Snapchat has generally been limited to the major brands such as Starbucks, to charismatic individuals such as Gary Vaynerchuk, or to innovative bricks and mortar businesses who have made good capital out of the Snapchat geofilters.
Instagram is a different story altogether, however, and although it has yet to (and is unlikely to) reach Twitter and Facebook levels of business uptake, it has nevertheless established itself as one of the go to social media platforms for business. Social media marketers are well aware of the unique virtues of Instagram, with its smooth interface and its double tap like feature often resulting in engagement rates unthinkable elsewhere. Instagram also benefits from being a high profile, trusted platform, a status which Snapchat, despite its pioneering use of ‘stories’ has yet to achieve. All this adds up to something potentially exciting.
So what do you get if you combine the pioneering innovation of Snapchat and the impeccable usability of Instagram?
Only time will tell, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t excited by the potential of Instagram Stories, despite the fact that they’ve been lifted lock, stock and barrel from Snapchat. If Instagram can bring the same level of quality to Stories as they do to the rest of their platform, then the innumerable businesses who already use the platform are going to have a whole new way to articulate their brand to their customers, and to tell their business ‘story’ to all who want to listen.
If you have questions about the new Instagram update, or anything related to digital marketing at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us @seanclark