With the recent release of Instagram Stories, there's been a lot (a lot) of talk about it just being a copy of Snapchat Stories. The discussion has varied from what that means for social media to what the pros and cons are, and what the similarities and differences are, to finally whether or not its ethical. But the question social media folk and businesses alike will soon come around to asking is "does the lack of innovation from Instagram even matter?"
Don't misunderstand, we love Instagram. And Snapchat. Who doesn't? And we love watching a young platform grow and evolve and with it a purpose, a demographic, and a lifestyle. But let's be honest, isn't Instagram just tactfully keeping up, not innovating?
Historically, Instagram is a Cautious Follower
- In June of 2012, Vine was founded and by October of the same year it was acquired by Twitter;
- In the same year Facebook acquires Instagram;
- Vine officially launches in January of 2013;
- Facebook releases longer "Video on Instagram" in June of 2013;
- Snapchat releases "Stories" in October of 2013;
- In the fall of 2013 Facebook tries to buy Snapchat for $3b in cash (and is declined);
- Instagram releases "Stories" in August of 2016.
Even these few of examples of Instagram's major "developments" show that they're not really innovating anymore, they're just kind of tweaking what's already working elsewhere, brushing off their hands and saying "voilà". That's not to say they haven't been slowly working toward being a platform for businesses as well as consumers, but where's the innovation?
And Now, Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is Facebook's way of competing and delivering even more video content. Platforms such as Vine, Snapchat, and Periscope have resulted in video being the hottest ticket in social media right now. After the failed acquisition of Snapchat, it makes sense for Facebook to focus on adapting the platform they already own (Instagram). Every social platform is fighting for video content domination, and with Stories, Instagram has tactfully caught up.
So, does this lack of innovation matter?
As a small business you're constantly looking to grow and expand, and stagnancy doesn't suit that. So it's part of your job to keep an ear to the ground and be aware of what's going on in social media and be open to it (and plan for it). So in that sense, yes, it matters that Instagram has released a new feature because Instagram is continuing to grow as a hotspot for businesses, small and large - as is Snapchat - and leveraging new platform features is usually beneficial.
On the other hand, the innovation debate doesn't matter because it's your demographic that dictates what social platforms you're on, the content you're producing, where you're having successes and where best you can achieve your goals as a company. The fact that Instagram (or any other platform) may not be innovating, and instead simply copying features from other platforms, doesn't really matter in that context.
Your success at reaching your demographics does't rely on these new features. They can certainly be useful and create more opportunities, but at the end of the day, the content you produce with the features available is what will build and maintain a following. Even if Instagram had never introduced Stories, those business who were curating great, targeted, feeds with the existing features were still finding social media success.
Innovation is always desired, but as a business on social media you shouldn't get too wrapped up in the arguments of what features are better where. Instead, stay in the know, run tests, take each debate with a grain of salt, and run each platform to best suit your demographics, leveraging each feature to benefit your social media presence.
If you want to reach a new demographic, know what audience platforms are reaching and start planning.