Taking a page from Snapchat’s playbook, Instagram announced the launch of their newest feature, Instagram “Stories” this week. This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried creating Snapchat clones, with stand-alone apps like Slingshot and Instagram Bolt, and ephemeral features like Quick Updates, all of which were quickly scrapped, but Instagram may have hit the jackpot with Stories.
(Video courtesy of Instagram)
There are blatant Snapchat resemblances, from the 24-hour expiration of the “Slideshows,” as Instagram calls them, to overlaying text and drawings on any photo or video. From your home feed, you can also swipe left to send a story and swipe right to bring up your direct messages; the same swiping features are implemented on Snapchat. And much like Snapchat Memories, users are also able to upload photos from their Camera Roll to their Instagram Story. The only difference: the photos, videos, or Boomerangs must be from the last 24 hours (Pro tip: you can screenshot an older photo to upload it to your Slideshow).
However, there are some other notable differences, like the ability to pause by holding down the screen, or tapping on the left side to go back a slide. To flex your artistic abilities, there are also three different brush options for drawing or writing on your Story: regular brush, translucent highlighter, and neon outline, as well as an extensive color picker to get the perfect shade (For a more in-depth list of similarities and differences, check out TechCrunch’s article here).
(Images courtesy of Instagram)
Instagram also looked to celebrities like Nick Jonas and Serena Williams to help promote the new feature, from Serena’s journey to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, to a day in the life on tour with the likes of Demi Lovato and Calvin Harris. Just like Snapchat gives fans an inside look of these celebrities’ lives, Instagram Stories aims to do the same with their already-robust audiences on the platform.
The platform launched Stories to encourage users to post more photos and videos, as content sharing on Instagram has declined significantly in the past few years. The New York Times states that a report from investment banking firm Jefferies indicated that Snapchat’s ever-increasing growth and production of new content could be detrimental to the app’s advertising platform. Users mainly use Instagram to post perfectly filtered and composed highlights from their lives, leaving no room to post more off-handed, everyday content for fear of spamming their followers. Because of this, most users do not post more than three photos a day (at most).
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom openly stated that Snapchat deserves all of the credit in the production of the Stories feature, a transparency move rarely employed by Silicon Valley head honchos. “This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it,” Systrom said. Essentially, don’t fix something that isn’t broken, but improve it to fit your objectives. Instagram’s adaptation of Snapchat comes with a cleaner UI and better overall design, as some of Snapchat’s features can feel clunky. And it doesn’t hurt that the photo quality, more or less, is unaltered on Instagram Stories, while it suffers quite a bit on Snapchat.
The Internet exploded with unhappy users after the launch of Instagram Stories, and memes were quickly distributed across Twitter and Instagram:
— katherine shelby (@katherineshelby) August 2, 2016
?? A photo posted by Daquan Gesese (@daquan) on
Facebook should just name its next product “Snapchat”
— ◕ᴥ◕ Pasquale D’Silva (@pasql) August 2, 2016
However, for brands and users with a significant amount of followers (see: influencers), Instagram Stories allows them to share supplemental content to their usual string of beautifully composed pictures, whether it’s behind-the-scenes footage of how a photo was created, or raw peeks into their lives without ever leaving the platform. Quite honestly, it’s a genius move from Instagram to allow its users to leverage the enormous amount of followers that they have amassed over years.
Can’t believe the last update of @instagram! Have you tried it? I’m very happy to show more of my city through Stories, move over my photo profile, tap it and enjoy your day in Venice ?✨ . . . . #vsco #vscocam #instagood #featuremeinstagood #seemycity #guardiancities #mytinyatlas #awesome_earthpix #beautifuldestinations #huffpostgram #wonderful_places #passionpassport #livefolk #shoot2kill #welltraveled #thebestdestinations #theprettycities
So what now?
We know Facebook purchased MSQRD, a faceswapping, selfie-filtering app very similar to Snapchat’s Lenses, back in March, so it will be interesting to see how it will be integrated with Instagram Stories. Seeing how much Snapchat’s Lenses are loved by users across the board, it’s a no-brainer for Facebook’s next steps to include dog filters and more Leo DiCaprio face swaps. Until then, users can save photos from third-party apps such as MSQRD and manually upload them into their Slideshows (swipe down, select, edit, and post).
With Facebook’s many, many blunders in trying to imitate Snapchat thus far, they finally seem to have found a solution with Instagram Stories. And with every new update or product launch, there will always be a group of users who will complain simply because they don’t like change. Whether you like it or not, Instagram Stories are here to stay, and it’ll be exciting to see how the feature will evolve from its current baby stage.
Do you prefer Instagram Stories or Snapchat? Will you stop using Snapchat in favor of Instagram Stories? Let us know below!