So Instagram had a HUGE update a few weeks ago for those of you who missed it. They launched an update to the platform that also introduced a new feature - Instagram Stories to its user base. At first glance it seemed as though they had replicated a number of the features found on Snapchat (and lets be honest they have, well parts of it anyway). After deeper investigation, it seems that many of the features and navigation currently found on Snapchat are now there on Instagram Stories.
What is the need for Instagram Stories?
So the big question is why? Why would they copy something and not create something new? These questions dominated the headlines for the first week or so after the update. There was criticism at Instagram and their parent company Facebook for not being original. I get it, but at the end of the day does it really matter? I think not, because they’ve been incredibly smart here. Let me explain.
Snapchat has seen incredible growth in the past couple of years and is the fastest growing social media platform, not only with users but for brands and companies alike. This was great for Snapchat but not for some of the older kids on the block like Instagram and Facebook. So, why the shift? Why did brands and companies start to look towards Snapchat? I believe there are three main reasons:
- They obviously saw more people jumping onto Snapchat, using it and posting their own content and wanted to be where everyone else was, increasing their reach. In addition, Snapchat has attracted a younger user base than Facebook and Instagram currently enjoy and by adding this new feature, they would potentially be able to market themselves better to a young audience that that currently don't have access to.
- The Snapchat experience felt newer and more fun in some ways, with filtering options, integrating music, emojis and drawings it was very easy to customise your own content
- Lastly the 24 hour shelf life, brands were able to post content for 24 hours only, meaning real time and live events plus Snapchat take overs (where popular celebrities or influencers would hijack the account for a period of time) could receive great coverage without cluttering the traditional feed of say Instagram or Facebook.
It wasn’t all roses though. The advertising options were at first very limited on Snapchat and still are, in the this part of the world. Snapchat requires an incredible amount of content generation and this can be time consuming and costly. Not to mention that not everyone is on Snapchat yet plus migrating an audience from one platform can be tough if they are not ready or willing to change.
This is why for me Instagram stories makes a lot of sense from a brand perspective. A lot of brands can now leverage their existing fan base and expose them to things they have never seen before such as filters, real-time editing and destructible content. I believe it will only be a matter of time until we start to see ‘sponsored’ stories that allow brands and companies to advertise in a similar manner they currently are used to.
These types of new features are great from a user perspective too. If I take my own account as an example (@digigeekster), prior to the Instagram Stories update, I hadn’t posted anything to the platform since May 17th! Now I am using it again. I love the 24 hour shelf life, drawing and filters plus I have started posting images on my own timeline again. Sure, there are some users (large social media influencers) that have put up an Instagram Story talking about Snapchat but at least people are using Instagram again.
So, does this mean that Instagram Stories is a Snapchat killer?
No in my opinion Snapchat still has legs but they will need to make sure they are running fast as they have a pretty big monster chasing them now.