So, what do we make of Instagram Stories?
For the purposes of getting to the point of this post, let’s park the fact that Instagram Stories is the most blatant form of plagiarism of Snapchat known to modern day tech and look at the new product from a “two days in what do we think?” from both a user and brand perspective.
First up, the users.
Opinions so far seem to sit in one of two camps. The louder being “oh god, Instagram, what have you done?”
The feedback on this side seems to be near devastation at the loss of what was the most beautiful social network of them all. And to a certain degree, I understand this.
Instagram’s founding vision was all about creativity and aesthetics. The ability for anyone to capture and better an image via filters was one of the main reasons it gained so much popularity; anyone could be a professional photographer. It became the place that the most distilled and controlled record of your life could be kept.
Instagram stories has fundamentally challenged this notion by taking the haphazard, low fi style of Snapchat and given it the primary banner space within the app. Suddenly the idea of beauty and creativity has been overridden by the noise of unconsidered, ephemeral content.
Those who are enjoying the addition cite the support because it streamlines the number of accounts they need to use. Rather than switching between Snapchat for (quote) “stupid but funny shit” they can now do that on the one app.
I’d hesitate to put my money on this meaning a ton of people will delete Snapchat and convert their disposable content posting to Instagram overnight, but without a doubt there will be a substantial number of people who’ll opt for the now dual functionality within Instagram over two apps.
The brand point of view is interesting.
Particularly in the last year, brands have been scrambling to answer what their Snapchat strategy is; something we’d have laughed at when the app was only known for nude selfies. While most brands have been well established on Instagram for years, Snapchat provided an entirely new audience and proposition – and one that was probably the most polarised from that which Instagram stood to serve.
Now, social media managers around the world will be scratching their heads trying to understand what on earth the differentiator is.
From the few people in this field who I’ve spoken to they seem to see little reason to change what they’ve been doing on Snapchat to what they’ll now feel the need to produce on Instagram.
There has also been feedback that the slight functionality differences such as swiping back and forth between stories and the UX within Instagram give it a slight edge.
However, before brands jump to switch up any long worked on Instagram strategy there are a few important things to consider.
First and foremost, the user behaviour when opening both apps. Typically Snapchat is opened upon a prompt. The user either wants to send a snap or see one someone had sent them. As such, discovery tends to come as a secondary intent. Instagram is the opposite; it begs discovery. People go there to explore.
My inkling is that this won’t so much affect the the content that is published on each platform, but more likely the frequency. However, whatever route brands chose to go for, accommodating user behaviour needs to be the primary consideration.
Secondly, brands need to remember this is a new functionality; we are in the magpie phase. Shiny new things get engagement and interest via novelty. While the view rate between each platform may be hugely different, this is likely to plateau over time. As always, it’s important to watch the numbers and use them as a guide.
In reality, it’s too soon to know who will ‘win’ the consumers’ placement of 24 hour stories. My prediction is that the users who are cynical right now will likely follow suit with their past behaviour when other major platforms have made changes and just get used to it. I’m not convinced this copy cat move is enough to kill Snapchat, however, it may be they lose some of their users who are equally active on Instagram owing to one app simply being better than two.
Brands? Again, it’s too early to know how impactful this will be and as with anything the best course of action will be to test, learn and listen to what the consumers are saying through the numbers. It’s worth bearing in mind that the power of Facebook Inc’s data will no doubt rear its head and offer a superior, more robust ad targeting opportunity. But for now, milking the learnings from organic activity will be the best port of call.
I also think if Instagram was bold enough to pull this move, they’ve got more up their sleeve.
To be continued.