August 4, 2016 / By Emily Gach
Instagram’s most recent application brings an addition to the platform that may feel familiar to any avid Snapchat-er.
The Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform launched “Stories,” a feature nearly identical to one Snapchat made popular in 2013. Instagram adopted this method of sharing, allowing users to create streams of content, which can be viewed any number of times over a 24-hour period before disappearing. Instagram’s niche in the social media space has become a vehicle for polished and curated posts, with most users treating the platform as a type of “highlight reel” instead of a platform for casual posting. The allure of Snapchat and “Stories” is their transience and relaxed nature, which inspires imperfect sharing – the feature is Instagram’s attempt to inspire more frequent and authentic content from its users.
For all their similarities, there are clear deviations between the features of each platform. For one, Instagram’s “Stories” are noticeably more accessible than Snapchat’s. The application walks you through how to adorn and share your photo with directional prompts and buttons, a fresh contrast to Snapchat’s ambiguous icons. Instagram’s “Stories” also aren’t time-limited in the way that Snapchat’s are. Instagram users can pause a story reel or tap the left side of the screen to go back a slide, which presents less of a time constraint than Snapchat’s constantly progressing stories. Additionally, Instagram’s “Stories” have a greater emphasis on drawing tools with three different types of brushes to choose from and custom color control with pre-made color palettes.
The focus here isn’t about copying the Snapchat Story framework, but how this framework plays into Instagram’s hugely relevant presence in the social media space. Instagram users already have their social audience and this feature will capitalize on that social graph that’s already in place. If Instagram can leverage its current user base into posting on this feature it will prevent some users who are unfamiliar with Snapchat, or have never grown comfortable with it, from ever giving it a chance.
The real opportunity is for Instagram accounts that are widely followed for their appealing and attractive posts to now connect with their followers on a more authentic and engaging level. For example, since its launch yesterday, I’ve seen Instagram Story posts from a middle-aged blogger who “could never figure out Snapchat” and an artist who now showcases the progression of her paintings in real time. To this point, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom noted that with Instagram “Stories,” “you have a completely different audience. If you’re a business, if you’re a celebrity, if you’re an interest-based account, you can have a giant audience. It’s going to feel very different.”
Brands, celebrities and influencers are now presented with a more genuine vehicle to create narratives, which will change the way audiences receive branded content. Instagram “Stories” should allow popular accounts to break past the glamorous fog of Instagram to reveal a more unfiltered voice and personality within the app, which will change the way audiences receive promoted content for the better.