I think we can all agree that August 2nd, 2016 was a weird day for everyone not living under a rock. It was the day that our beloved photo- and video-sharing service introduced “Instagram Stories” to the world. Change is good. Change is necessary…Right?
Usually, yes. Especially in an industry that transforms so quickly that companies within are either forced to adapt or die. However this change that Instagram has made through its introduction of “Stories” just didn’t feel right.
First of all, it was a blatant copy of Snapchat Stories. Instagram didn’t even try to create a different name. Was that intentional or just lazy? We know what you’re doing Instagram. We KNOW.
Secondly, is a Stories feature even relevant to Instagram? I always considered Snapchat to Instagram as what Twitter is to Facebook. Snapchat is where it’s okay to get a little weird, not care how pixelated your photos are, and post videos from your drunken nights downtown because hey, they’ll be gone by the time you manage to crawl out of bed the next day. Instagram on the other hand has always been a ~classier~ place where you post pretty pictures and share things that you don’t mind your grandmother seeing. So what’s the point of adding Stories to it? The pictures I deem worthy for Instagram are typically filtered works of art. No way am I going to spend 20 minutes deciding what contrast and exposure to set my photo to, only to have to automatically wiped away 24 hours later. Even Instagram promotes itself as a vessel used to showcase the most aesthetic and creatively appealing content out there. So why include Stories if that content is only temporary and limited to those that follow you?
There are only two real ways that I see Instagram benefiting from this Stories feature:
- Celebrity users. The sting from Kim Kardashian’s takedown of Taylor Swift via leaked videos on her Snapchat is still fresh. The whole ordeal lead to thousands of new Snapchat followers for Kim Kardashian and more importantly, thousands of conversations that all conveniently revolved around Snapchat. Maybe Instagram watched this happen and wanted in on future action. Giving celebrities one platform for both permanent and temporary content certainly sounds nice. Especially for users that have already amassed millions on followers on Instagram and don’t want to have to start recruiting all over again for Snapchat.
- Advertising. AKA: the big bucks. There was certainly a lot of backlash when Instagram first announced they would be allowing advertisements to be included on users’ home feeds but that has sense died down as Instagram ensured that the marketing content is required to meeting the visually appealing standards of the service. Allowing advertisements into the Stories bar would be just an extension of this and maybe even be more comfortable for users to see. The success of allowing advertising on this feature has certainly already been proven by Snapchat’s recent revenue reports. Maybe Stories is just another way for Instagram to make a little more money.
Regardless of my feelings or speculations about Instagram Stories, it looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a while. It’s a cliché but only time will tell if this feature will be as successful as Instagram wants it to be. In the meantime, you can reach me on Snapchat (@liss.mkc)!
My 2017 Perspective:
Ah well here we are, a full year later and I find myself feeling rather humbled. Yes, Instagram Stories has surpassed Snapchat in daily users by a long shot. And yes, they continue to copy a lot of Snapchat’s best features, like filters and ads (putting their own twist on it of course).
In retrospect, a small piece of me knew this was how it would really play out. How could Instagram Stories fail? Facebook is a force to be reckoned with and when Snapchat turned down their $3 billion offer, we all should have seen this coming. Nobody puts Mark in the corner.
That being said, I have seen my assumptions about the “purposes” of each platform continue to hold true respectively. Yeah, we still post our drunken nights downtown on Snapchat. But with Stories, Instagram lets us show the classier version of our nights. You know, before they went downhill. There you’ll find the cute boomerangs of sparkling drink glasses clinking together, maybe with some fancy stickers added just for funsies. That much hasn’t changed. This example goes to show that Instagram Stories are definitely here to stay, but that they act more as an extending feature of Instagram and less as a carbon copy of Snapchat.
Personally, I still find myself using Snapchat consistently more than Stories when I want to share insignificant little bits of my life, but I see many of my peers taking to Instagram more every day. Truthfully, I just hope Instagram doesn’t make a pattern out of copying Snapchat, because I don’t want to see those damn Bitmojis any more than I have to.