Instagram just announced Instagram Stories, a new feature that functions almost identically to Snapchat’s My Story. While it isn’t a fully original idea, or even Facebook’s first attempt at the format, combining it with Instagram removes the headache of actually using Snapchat.
I’m not being hyperbolic by calling it a Snapchat clone. Instagram Stories have the same ephemeral nature of Snapchat’s My Story and posts last for 24 hours and all posts are collected together and shown slideshow style. Just like Snapchat, again, users can add text or use various drawing tools to spice up their videos or pictures.
There are a few differences. Missing at launch are geofilters and face filters that are ubiquitous on Snapchat but Facebook may have shown their hand that face filters are coming soon enough with their recent acquisition of MSQRD. Instagram Stories allows you to make a particular part of a story more permanent and part of the Instagram timeline with just a quick click of a Share button.
Embracing this format moves Instagram away from only being about polished content. When Instagram launched, it improved everyday mobile photography and encouraged visually appealing stories. This set high bar for content creation and gave users stage fright, limiting the amount of sharing from users. When brands adopted Instagram, most wouldn’t be caught dead uploading photos that weren’t shot professionally.
When Snapchat launched, it encouraged more frequent and candid sharing. It grew quickly as it embraced being creative with the kind of tools you’d find in MS Paint or Kid Pix that inherently brings a certain charm and authenticity. This has proved perfect for brands that want to curate a personality and seem more relatable, particularly to a more youth oriented demographic, but brands haven’t fully flocked to the platform.
Because the Snapchat format hasn’t fully matured for brands makes the timing of the release of Instagram Stories impeccable. Instagram Stories removes some major hurdles in getting brands to jump on the bandwagon. Building an entirely new network is like having to rebuild your movie collection every time a new format comes around. Snapchat didn’t make building a following easy in that the best way to acquire followers has been to share a QR code. Instagram has had the benefit of being able to build a network quickly by recommending users to to connect based on connections on other networks like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram Stories is available right out of the gate to all followers.
Snapchat still has sponsored geofilters, which is a paid format not worth giving up on. But when it comes to telling stories about your brand, it might be time to migrate away from Snapchat or skip trying it altogether.