Instagram has just launched a new feature that's exactly like Snapchat's 'Stories'. They're not even trying to pretend otherwise - here's what Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom had to say about the similarity.
"Just like when Facebook invented the [News] Feed, and every social product was like, 'That's an innovation, how do we adapt that to our network?' You're going to see stories pop up in other networks over time, because it's one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order"
Here's how it works:
Called, unsurprisingly, 'Stories', Instagram's new feature will be accessible via a set of circular icons representing people you follow on the platform that will soon be present along the top of your Instagram feed.
As you can see from the image sequence, click on one of these icons and you'll be taken to that users' story - a collection of photos and videos (up to 10 seconds) that they've uploaded in the last day, presented in slideshow format.
As per Instagram's announcement:
"You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won't appear on your profile grid or in feed."
Exactly like Snapchat Stories.
"...tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person's story. If you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. Unlike regular posts, there are no likes or public comments."
It's pretty surprising to see a platform so obviously copy another's ideas - most of the other Snapchat-like features Facebook has tried (note: Facebook owns Instagram) have at least attempted to put their own spin on it or be less overt. But the real question is what will it add - if anything - to the Instagram experience?
While Snapchat has seen massive growth - now reaching more than 150 million users per day - the key to Snapchat's success has been differentiation. What you can do on Snapchat you can't do anywhere else, and, quite possibly, most people wouldn't want to. Snapchat has it's own ethos now, it's own following - will people really want to do the same type of thing on Instagram, a platform which, historically, been more about more artistic and crafted images?
Yet at the same time, Instagram had to do something - according to a study from Piper Jaffray published earlier this year, Snapchat has overtaken Instagram as the preferred social network among teen users.
Part of the problem, some have suggested, is that Snapchat is a place where you can constantly keep your friends updated, whereas on Instagram, most people post far less often. The addition of Stories works to address this.
What Instagram stories doesn't have, as yet, are Geofilters and Lenses - but Facebook, via MSQRD, has the capacity to add similar features. It'll be interesting to see if that's what comes next.
And here's the thing - Instagram currently has 300 million daily active users, which, as noted, is double the amount that Snapchat's seeing. According to Pew Research, around 55% of Instagram's audience is aged between 18 and 25, meaning that there's a lot of daily active users who switch between both Instagram and Snapchat, which is also focused on the same age bracket. Given this, you can also assume that a lot of those users have built similar networks of friends on both apps - if they can now do all the things they would switch over to Snapchat for within Instagram, maybe they won't actually need to switch over to Snapchat at all. And if Facebook does round it out with MSQRD masks, filters, even maybe a live-streaming option (which Instagram has said they've been looking into), this could be Facebook's best bet yet of slowing the audience migration and keeping them on their platforms.
As such, I'd expect Instagram to announce some big, flashy new additions to the option some time soon to maintain the initial hype and momentum.
To create a story post on Instagram you'll click on this new + icon in the top left of your home screen.
Your story follows the privacy settings of your account - if you set your account to private, your story will only be visible to your followers. You also have the option to hide your entire story from anyone you don't want to see it, even if they follow you.
"When watching your own story, swipe up to check out who's seen each photo and video. You can even choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile."
So, Instagram Stories is now a thing. Whether it's the next Slingshot or the next Facebook Live, we'll have to wait and see.
Instagram Stories is rolling out globally "over the next few weeks" on both iOS and Android.