Instagram has made headlines recently by implementing a “stories” feature. So naturally, I found myself clicking through a few friends’ Instagram stories and I couldn’t help feeling deja vu. Not only have I seen these pictures before, but in this order, all the while tapping to get to the next photo. It was twenty seconds ago on SnapChat.
Photos only remain for twenty-four hours, you can draw on them and include videos. Wait, am I on SnapChat or Instagram?
My questions were many, but mainly I just wanted to know why. I also wanted to know what this meant for marketers like myself.
The “why” behind Instagram stories kinda seems obvious once I thought about it. They were feeling the pressure from SnapChat. Instagrams daily active user number was declining. They were no longer the bell of the ball. Marketing blogs and experts were lauding the value of SnapChat for your brand and Instagram wanted a piece of the pie.
But are Instagram stories really the same as SnapChat? Not really. The stories feature of SnapChat is really just a small part of what makes it so great, not just for brand but for users. What makes SnapChat so powerful is all the easily accessible content from brands. All the Buzzfeed articles, the Olympic highlights, the Cosmopolitan articles about how to look good in a bikini, the Refinery29 articles about how to properly shave your legs. That’s right. Articles.
SnapChat has a Discover section that allows you to access content from brands that you don’t follow. It allows those articles to intersperse great photos, videos, slideshows, memes, infographics and more. SnapChat still reigns supreme. Discover is a great title for this feature of SnapChat because it allows users to actually discover new stuff. Instagram stories just seem like a desperate, ill thought out move to keep pace.
So that’s the “why.” But what does it mean for marketers? Well at the end of the day, Instagram still has five times as many users and they have the resources of Facebook behind it. SnapChats user base also trends younger so if you’re selling something expensive or you operate a B2B business, your target demographic might trend a bit older. That makes the case for using Instagram in general, but what about the stories?
Well Instagram has a very different feel than many other social media platforms.
Twitter and Facebook are a volume game. Generally, the more you post the better. And quality isn’t important. They’re more real time conversations. The quicker the better. But Instagram is different. It is a more artful, thoughtful medium. Individual users hold their friends, pretty strictly, to the one post a day rule. There are filters, captions, multiple takes to get the perfect shot. Instagram is not an in-the-moment platform. Its a curated, photo/video collection of your life, brand, etc.
So Instagram stories brings this element to the app. You may want to share some funny content happening in the moment, but you don’t want to clutter up your profile with it. Now you put it in your story. A story that has 500 million users that aren’t almost exclusively millenials.
I doubt Instagram stories will ever replace SnapChat, but I think in time it can carve out a niche for itself as a less serious, more in-the-moment version of Instagram itself. But please, Instagram, don’t call them stories.