If you're a loyal snapper, you probably opened this blog post ready to be outraged. If you're on the fence like I've been, you're hoping to find answers on which platform to commit to. Either way, we all need to cut Instagram Stories some slack and accept that it's here to stay. While yes, this new feature is a clear ripoff of Snapchat stories, this isn't the first time platforms have borrowed from their competitors. Here are some examples:
- Instagram offered filters first, Snapchat took it up a notch.
- UStream introduced live-streaming, and Periscope made the experience mobile.
- Periscope offered an opportunity for live video, Facebook Live was introduced.
- Twitter introduced hashtags and handles, they are a staple for many social networks.
Ideas are borrowed everyday. (If you don't believe that, you need to read the book Steal Like An Artist.) Popeyes popped off after KFC and nobody is complaining about better fried chicken. There are hundreds of businesses that do the same thing. If we're being honest, your business isn't that innovative either, and it is something that someone has done before. It's just the world we live in. If an idea works, someone is going to steal it and do it better. And that is just what Instagram did, but they have some work to do.
Nov. 10 Update: More Engagement
As of Nov. 10, Instagram Stories update brought two new features: @mention and use the Boomerang camera in Stories. You can finally get some followers from starring in your friend's story. Win! In addition to that, verified accounts are testing the inclusion of links in a story. No more begging for viewers to "CLICK THE LINK IN BIO!" They will be able to visit links directly from the post. It's so lit guys, you don't even know it.
Why Instagram Stories Wins
A larger built-in audience.
You probably have more followers on Instagram than on Snapchat. Debate me if I'm wrong about this, but that's my educated guess. Snapchat is a place to be "Rachet" where your close friends and family can see you being "the real" you. With Instagram stories, this can be unappealing since you have an audience that has become accustomed to perfect pictures, none showing a single flaw or inappropriate behavior. However, the amount of people on Instagram alone is reason enough not to ignore the platform and Instagram stories. Instagram has double the users that Snapchat has —~300 million daily active users versus about 150 million daily active users. If you have been struggling to jump on the live content bandwagon, Instagram stories might be a great alternative without the need to download and decode another app.
Easier to measure.
The metrics are so clear on Instagram. You know how many people you follow, how many people are following you, number of likes per post, etc. Snapchat only has your Snapscore, which is vague and nobody really understands. Instagram Stories also have better metrics which show you both a total number of views and who those viewers are. It puts that information in one easy to find place instead of making you click a trillion times for it like Snapchat does. Brands and users already see the difference. Nike, for example, generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story that it posted on Tuesday, the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike's best video got 66,000 views, according to Nike and its social media agency Laundry Service. That's a huge difference. My first Instagram Story got over 400 views on Instagram, while my best snaps barely make 80. The sheer size of Instagram and your following there already gives it a huge advantage, but the ability to be able to clearly measure how you're doing on there is priceless for a brand.
Easier to understand.
Instagram Stories have many of the same features as Snapchat, but with a focus on obvious labels and buttons to make the experience better. You always know what to do next - unlike on Snapchat. On Instagram, you can clearly see:
- where one person's story starts and the other begins
- how to comment
- the stats of each post (without having to click into each individual one)
I spent a few minutes swiping around the screen trying to figure out how to send messages and post pictures from the camera roll. Many adults are still trying to figure out all the swipes, filters, bells and whistles, while teens have adopted the platform much faster. This presents an advantage for Instagram to cater to a different audience and give the live storytelling experience to those who just couldn't or wouldn't get Snapchat. A lot more people have adopted the Instagram Stories feature, faster. While Snapchat was a slow progression for users to get on the platform, many users jumped right in on the first day Instagram stories roll out and continue to use it daily.
More opportunities to grow your community.
"Hey go watch so-and-so's snaps." I get these texts often and do nothing with them. Snapchat doesn't make it easy to share content or to make content go viral. In my opinion they cater more to their revenue and to large brands than they do their users. The focus more on content creation and less on content consumption. If you're a personal brand, you want more people to consume your content, so consumption is key. On Snapchat, the brands are the star of the show and the first thing you see in your feed. There is no "Discover" page, sharing option, straight-forward search option, or tagging mechanism. This makes it very difficult for users to grow their audience and be found on the platform. You don't get sucked into the black hole that Instagram creates. You know what I'm talking about, when you end up on your boyfriend's, friend from high school's, cousin's page. You aren't sure how you go there through all the clicking but you're ashamed. On the flip side, imagine how many people have found and followed you in that way.
Instagram does have a few flaws however, like the weird never-ending left swipe action to get through the stories. I predict this will mean less engagement for your stories, because you have the possibility of getting lost in the mix. If you're anything like me, you probably follow way more people on Instagram than you do on Snap and therefore, you have triple or quadruple the amount of stories to sift through. That will inevitably hinder you from being able to pick and choose the stories to watch and you might get overlooked by your followers if you aren't posting often enough.
Lack of filters.
While I don't use them much, filters are a Snapchat staple. They are engaging, interactive and well done. Although this is the biggest complaint I've seen, depending on your personal brand, you don't need the dog filter from Snapchat. You say it's "boring" without filters. I say become a better storyteller then, because them flower crowns and butterfly filters won't save you if your content is trash. Instagram is forcing you to become a better content creator, rather than torturing us lip syncing your favorite sone with the dog filter on. No that's boring. Aside from the interactive filters, there are no geolocation filters or time stamps on the Instagram story. How are people supposed to follow along with my life if they don't know the time of day and where I am? Cmon son. This is a widely engaging feature and one that I'm sure Instagram will consider adding soon, along with a "Following" label. Let us hope.