Last week Instagram announced a an update to their platform called “Instagram stories” and it’s safe to say everyone was talking about it. Well, nearly everyone. As usual people were quick to voice opinions and make quick decisions, many saying this would be the death of Snapchat. Why? Because, by their own admission, Instagram stories is a direct replica of Snapchat stories.
I voiced my initial thoughts to a friend of mine about whether I thought it would even take off, and wanted to wait a week or so before I blogged more openly.
So what are Instagram stories?
If you’re not familiar with Snapchat then the fact they ripped off copied spiel bergs story telling platform won’t mean much. Stories sit at the top of your Instagram home feed and are a series of images or/and videos stitched together over a 24 hour period to create a ‘story’ – a story about your day, what you’re doing, where you’ve been etc. Most of this content is created in real time but you can pull through pictures and videos you save to your camera roll from else where within that 24 hour period. You can then (much like snapchat) overlay that picture or video with a filter (which changes the colour) and you can add text, emojis and doodles.
The great thing about stories for Instagram is that, as a channel, it’s mostly been about sharing a single photo here and there (and editing it like crazy so it looks ultra profesh!) but now you can use stories to give a more real time insight into your life and what you get up to – without flooding the home feed of your followers with seemingly non-important stuff.
Why is that a win for Instagram? Because they’ve recognised story telling is the way forward, they have the user bare (it’s the second most popular channel in the world) and they think/hope this will keep people on their platform rather then go anywhere else to story tell (like Snapchat) It’s all very Facebook-esque thought don’t you think? Lets give our user base what they love elsewhere on here as an attempt to stop them from leaving. Does it work? I’m not sure it does. Facebook introduced hashtags and they don’t work…In my experience people like to use platforms in different ways for different things. Millennials especially don’t care that they have 10 different apps lets say, each serves a different purpose and a different need.
I do think Instagram stories will work well for brands, organisations and individuals who have a massive follower base there already and I’d be interested to know how their engagement rates on Instagram stories compare to those of Snapchat. I have a feeling they won’t, but in comparison to your standard ‘sticky’ photos/videos that sit on your Instagram profile – you’ll certainly see more engagement by way of views (due to how they’ve positioned the stories feed) – I certainly have.
Another great thing about Instagram introducing stories is the certainty of it familiarising the notion of story telling and ephemeral content (content that disappears) to those who have chose not to look at snapchat to date. I really hope that if those users have a go with Instagram stories, see how others are using it and enjoy it – it will shift their perception of Snapchat. From my experience as a snapchat trainer, too many people are avoiding the opportunities of snapchat because they have pre-conceived ideas about what it is or what it can do.
What about Snapchat?
Ok, so here’s a quick outline of the differences between what Snapchat offers and what Instagram does. Each piece of content you create lasts up to ten seconds and all snaps you send (either to your public story or 1:1 with a friend) disappear once it’s seen (your story lasts 24 hours).
There’s much more choice by way of filters, lenses (that change regularly), stickers and drawing options that allow users to be more creative when story telling. The growth rate has been phenomenal in the 5 years since it launched, much larger than any other social network out there and it boasts 10 billion video views per day. According to some reports, that’s more than Facebook itself.
It’s definitely not going to stop people using Snapchat who are already using it and having kept an eye on things in my circle of contacts on Instagram, I’ve not been seeing it used much…that may change…we’ll see.
How have Snapchat responded to Instagram stories? Just yesterday it was announced they brought discovery app Vurb – which can only mean one thing…a search functionality. That’s exactly the right answer. Although don’t get me wrong…I’m more than ok with the lack of search function on snapchat…there’s a ton of alternative ways you can build your follower base.
I polled my twitter followers a couple of days after the new feature appeared on Instagram and I’ve also been asking my snapchat followers what they think too. Interestingly the majority of people are giving it a thumbs down. Unless, as I mentioned previously it’s been someone who has a huge following on Instagram already – in which case they’re simply leveraging this element of Instagram and seeing good interaction levels, understandably.
So, should you be choosing one or the other?
No…as with the case with all social media, it’s about evaluating who your customers are, where they hang out and then going there…if there’s potential in Snapchat and not Instagram then work hard at getting your customers to join Snapchat…or vice versa. Instagram stories is just another element of Instagram, another tool, to help you communicate and connect with your community by reintegrating a real time element to it’s platform.
For some, that isn’t what they want from it, for others it will be precisely what’s been missing.
But what it does do is highlight a shift in digital communications and social media marketing that Snapchat can take credit for – story telling is huge right now. People want to connect with people and they want it to be personable. Whether those people represent a large business or a one man band. The evolution of social media as a comms method in business has always been gate crashed by marketing – adverts, scripts and well produced pieces of content. That’s disconnecting you from your audience. I said it some months back but channels like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope are stripping all that back and are putting authenticity first, and that’s why they’re so popular. Because people connect with genuine moments and that’s all you can be when it’s live. Don’t ignore it…