On an Internet that remembers everything, is appropriating the tech to forget the sincerest form of flattery?
That’s the question that came to mind when Instagram announced the premier of Instagram Stories, which at first glance seemed incredibly familiar. Snapchat, after all, had pioneered the “stories” format, but there must be something different about the Instagram version – or else why would the baby sister to Facebook even bother?
Where Instagram Gets It Right
As it turns out, Instagram Stories bring innovation to the video and photo stories format, despite many accusations to the contrary.
Although Snapchat has been around since 2011, there are still things about the mobile app that make it difficult for new users and even more troublesome as a commercial format. Instagram seems to have corrected many of those problems in their reimagining of the disposable Instagram Stories format. Unlike Snapchat, which is kind of an insider’s app, you have to know how to use it to know how to use it. Instagram is hoping to bring new people into the fold with helpful tools and smarter algorithms.
These are some of the basic differences marketers (and your audiences) will notice between Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories:
- Learning Curve. You can think of Snapchat as an exclusive club and Instagram as more of an app of the people. While Snapchat has lots of hidden features that are meant to be discovered (all part of the experience of the app), Instagram Stories has written documentation that tells you exactly where to find everything you’re going to need. Easter eggs are fun, but only if the eggs are hiding things you don’t really need—hiding editing tools and color palettes is just a cruel and frustrating practice.
- Finding Friends. As a user, one of the first things you’ll probably want to do on either service is find your friends. We’re all used to social media by now, this is how it works. On Snapchat, you basically have to know exactly who you’re looking for, but on Instagram Stories you can import your Facebook friends or let the algorithm suggest feeds you might enjoy. From that perspective, Instagram Stories is immediately more interesting because you’ll have dramatically more content to consume right away.
- From a marketing standpoint, there’s nothing as sweet as a good stash of data. Snapchat is basically devoid of it. You can get information on how each snap is performing, but it’s a painstaking task. Instagram Stories, on the other hand, was designed with the thought that someone might be interested in looking at numbers in mind. It’s extremely intuitive and powerful, giving you many of the same types of insights as Facebook.
Instagram Stories Built with Marketing in Mind
Instagram Stories is a fabulous experiment and deviation from both Snapchat and original Instagram.
You can give your audiences exclusive behind the scenes style looks at their favorite brands that are guaranteed to live for a limited time only, and it happens with such ease and grace that you’d think it was made for mobile marketing. Except, it kind of feels like it was. Where Snapchat was definitely meant to be an app for user-centric creation, Instagram Stories feels more geared toward content consumption—and, inversely, content curation by media moguls.
Because of this one obvious flaw, Instagram Stories may end up being very short-lived. Despite the success of Snapchat, if Instagram Stories feels too much built for business to the users meant to socialize there, they’ll reject it. Instagram, after all, has always been about taking amazing filtered photos of a user’s adventures, new outfits, cats or dinner. These were photos meant to live forever, not photo stories that anyone hoped would go away forever in 24 short hours.
It may become the next big thing, but it won’t be with the Snapchat crowd. The adopters of Instagram Stories will be similar to the users who are already there and on Facebook. But that demographic, known as the “olds” in Snapchat analytic terms, continues to be a powerful force that can’t be ignored. It’s going to be interesting to see how this Instagram vs. Snapchat battle plays out, and if the parents of the Snapchat generation are willing to adopt the same disposable attitude to media in the long run, or if Instagram Stories is a fleeting novelty.