Imitation is Flattery: Insta v Snapchat

Yesterday Instagram announced Stories, a feature admittedly taken directly from Snapchat. A dedicated channel of content viewable for 24-hours before it disappears — it’s a carbon copy.

We’ve seen many attempts from Facebook to snatch up a piece of Snapchat’s audience. These attempts — a standalone app, touting arrival of similar features in Messenger, the mention of features in FB itself — all flopped hard. Unfortunately for Facebook, it’s become too big to venture into that space without alienating the audience it’s trying to attract. Incase you’ve forgotten, Facebook is no longer the sole home of the Millennial audience. Facebook’s where your Aunt goes to ask you how you’re doing on your new profile pic. “Love to your Mum too darl xx Aunty Jan.” To put it simply: Facebook isn’t cool, and they’re certainly not down wif da kids (the audience they want). Back to the story: this is where Instagram comes in.

Instagram, the Facebook-owned app, is still cool. It’s got, at last I looked, a 300m monthly active user base (MAU). AKA 300m people are sharing their life through perf filtered pics and happy vids posted to the platform. Snapchat’s MAU isn’t public but reported to be somewhere around the 100m MAU mark. ⅓ of Instagram’s audience. Insta’s problem and Snapchat’s point of difference was the types of content and the barriers to sharing that content. While Insta was for beautiful flat lays, beach pics, and your latest meal; Snapchat was for crash-zooms, nudes, and talking shit to an audience with little consequence or judgement. It’s that last bit, the little consequence or judgement, that Facebook lacked.

We all know what it’s like to share things on a social platform. Many people get nervous about posting because they don’t want to look silly, feel judged, or see their posts fail. Reactions (likes etc.), comments, and shares made it very easy to validate friends, it also made it easy to validate their insecurities. Because of these mental barriers, people share less or less frequently, and put more effort into posts, often deleting if they don’t reach a certain personal goal (number of reactions or comments etc.). I think it’s safe to say we can all relate to this in some way.

Snapchat has reached a real danger zone now. Instagram is not only cool, but more people already use it, and they’ve tackled the issues holding back people from engaging and sharing content by introducing stories. This is a huge move and if users are willing to abandon ship and get behind such a gutsy play, Instagram could seriously hinder Snapchat’s growth.

The ball is in Snapchat’s court. This is one interesting story to follow ;)

Mā te wā. Talk tomorrow :)

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