As an avid Instagram fan myself…
I was unsurprised by the statistic released recently which claimed that the average user spends nearly 30 minutes on Instagram every day. To be honest I probably spend longer than that on it. This change was put down to the introduction of the Instagram ‘story’ feature one year ago, which at first was slow to build in popularity but has now become the go-to preference for micro-vlogging ahead of Snapchat and their similar story feature.
Snapchat were the first to introduce this story feature to the mass market a few years ago. Users quickly took to it once they realized it was an extremely fun, flexible, and easy way to share snippets of their day, thoughts, or even just photos with all of their followers. For an app that previously would only allow you to share disappearing photos with selected friends, this was a big change. The snapchat story was the same principle as a Facebook status; but far cooler.
A game of clones
And so, snapchat was the ‘story’ king for a good few years, until last year, when Instagram released an update which included an extremely similar feature. Criticised for ripping off Snapchat at first, Instagram were swiftly forgiven when users realised the perks of this new update. The new ‘stories’ feature allowed them to be more casual and fun in the content they were sharing on Instagram, and they also found that good Instagram stories led to more likes and engagement on their shared photos.
The power of stories
Instagram stories now have a staggering 250 million daily users. A partial contributor to this astronomical number is the fact that, unlike Snapchat, Instagram users already have a solid ‘presence’ on the app in terms of the photos they had already shared, and the aesthetic or vibes that they had cultivated through their shared photos and on their profile. A few years ago, my sister and I were chatting about Instagram, and she confessed that she would put about an hour’s thought (on average) into deciding which photo to put up on Instagram from a night out the previous evening. I remember being baffled at the time but now understand completely, and am myself a culprit of the same particularity.
We are living in an age where whether we like it or not, everyone is subconsciously treating their personal online presence as they would a brand. The introduction of stories presented an opportunity for users, and influencers especially, to ‘advertise’ in an extremely informal way, and to encourage people who may be flicking through their Instagram stories to check out their profile and shared photos aswell. If something were to catch the attention of a follower, they would more than likely look up that user’s profile and browse through their photos. This is where Instagram was able to pull ahead of Snapchat in the race: If something captures a viewer’s attention on snapchat, they have nowhere else to look or go in order to find out more about the person whose story they have just watched. If the same thing happens on Instagram, there is an entire profile with bios, previously shared photos, and links to other social media at the ready.
The introduction of stories presented an opportunity for users, and influencers especially, to ‘advertise’ in an extremely informal way
For many people, Instagram stories presents an ideal format for social networking: one that allows them to have fun, be connected (through their Instagram profiles) and present the best version of themselves. Though Snapchat is still widely used, with the addition of its stories, Instagram appears to be leaving it in the dust.