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The world of social media is forever changing, and those who don’t evolve are lost in the dust. Likely with that in mind, on August 2, Instagram announced a major transition with their introduction of Instagram Stories. But many are calling it a direct rip-off of Snapchat. Here’s why.
Snapchat Basics – A Messaging App with Disappearing Snaps
Snapchat allows users to send “snaps” (pictures or videos) directly to other users, which means they do not need to be “posted” to an account. The pictures disappear after an allotted time of up to 10 seconds. “Stories,” which are compilations of snaps, are shared with all of a user’s followers and can be viewed for up to 24 hours before they vanish.
For more fun, Snapchat provides filters, which are essentially graphics (still or moving) that are placed over images. Overlay filters are applied to alter the image appearance and can be as simple as coloring effects or as complex as the addition of a full grown beard. Location-specific geofilters are frequently available and personalized geofilters can be created by users through a somewhat complicated, fee-based process.
While Snapchat was initially known as an app for teenagers to fearlessly share photos that would make their parents cringe, its audience base has expanded dramatically to 150 million daily active users.
Instagram Basics – A Community-Based Photo Sharing Platform
Historically, Instagram offered a place to share pictures ― either publically or with a select group for private profiles. Like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is community based. Hashtags allow users to place their photographs into searchable categories, and direct messaging capabilities provide the ability to communicate one on one with other Instagram users.
Similar to the “follow” feature on Facebook, Instagram lets users subscribe to accounts. Because subscriptions guarantee a place within the newsfeed, despite metrics used within the newsfeed algorithm, the act of subscribing is like a content filter.
Instagram 2.0 – The Introduction of Disappearing Stories
The new Instagram Stories allow users to group a day’s worth of photos and videos into one “story.” Like Snapchat, the stories disappear after 24 hours. With this release, Instagram also added the ability to alter photos with text and drawing tools.
Instagram claims they are making this change to allow for the sharing of highlights without the fear of over-posting. It also alleviates the perceived need to ensure every shared image is socially acceptable enough to receive a significant number of likes and comments.
However, to shrewd followers of social media, we see a play at increasing paid branding opportunities. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so much of the content posted on Instagram is seen on Facebook as well. Through the use of Instagram Stories, advertisers can further their branding initiatives in a number of ways, including the live streaming of events.
Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories ― Who Will Win?
The saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” But in the world of social media, a more fitting expression is, “You can beat ‘em… just do what they do better!” After all, think back to the days of MySpace or Friendster. With the introduction of Facebook, these social media platforms were essentially wiped out. (Some readers may not even know what Friendster is!)
Should Snapchat be concerned with the integration of Instagram’s newest feature, Instagram Stories? Instagram already has double the number of daily active users in comparison to Snapchat. For users with a large following on Instagram, this evolution may reduce the continued need to stay active on both platforms.
We’re waiting to see how Snapchat responds. Snapchat employees publically ridiculed Instagram’s copycat move. Fair, but irrelevant. It’s Snapchat’s turn to make a move. And we’re waiting to see what it will be.