Recently, Instagram announced an update to its platform that will allow users to post photos and videos that are set to expire after 24 hours. Stories are able to be edited the same way snaps are on Snapchat — with text, stickers, emojis and drawings that overlay a photo or video. Stories will appear at the top of a user’s profile or in a bar at the top of the news feed. Users’ profile pictures in circles indicate that the user has an active story available for viewing; a colored circle around the profile picture means there is a new story that you haven’t seen yet. Instagram users can reply directly to a story by using the “Send Message” feature in the bottom corner of a live story. This new feature follows the same security settings that are in place for Instagram profiles – if your profile is set to private, your stories will be private. If your profile is public, your stories will also be made available for anyone to see. However, you can hide specific people from looking at your stories and prevent them from seeing content posted to your story in the future. The update is a clear and direct copy of Snapchat’s story feature, with many details duplicating Snapchat, down to the way a user can see who has viewed their story. Instagram is framing this update as a way for users to share the events of their days without “overposting.” The language of the update suggests that Instagram is sensitive about the self-imposed restrictions that many young people have made for the platform. For them, Instagram is a much more selectively-curated space than Snapchat or other channels.
What this means for brands:
It is too soon to tell whether or not Instagram Stories will overtake Snapchat as the reigning story-hosting platform. For now, Snapchat should certainly not be abandoned or neglected – it continues to be one of the fastest growing apps, with 150 million people using the service each day, six billion daily video views and the most effective (and fun) way to reach a uniquely young audience. Brands should feel empowered to cross-promote their social presence across all platforms. Instagram Stories offers a new opportunity to remind Instagram followers of Snapchat accounts they may have not known existed. As with all platform updates and new features, don’t get too attached too quickly. Facebook tried its hand developing a Snapchat-rival app called Slingshot more than two years ago. Snapchat devotees did not see the value in downloading another nearly identical app, leading to Facebook closing the doors of its Creative Labs department and removing Slingshot from app stores.