Thoughts on Instasnap, Snapgram, and Gramsnaps

There is quite a storm going on with Instagram’s latest move. If you somehow missed it, they conveniently borrowed the widely popular story feature from the messaging juggernaut Snapchat.

If you don’t know anything about stories, it’s a way to share photos and views to a 24 hour timeline that people can review.

I’ve been a huge fan of Instagram since the early days. I love photography and help a lot of startups build mobile apps around photography. I cannot wait to show off what I’ve been up to over the last two years.

Given that love, and in a more casual sense, Snapchat entered the picture. Stories captivated me. Being able to create quick digests of my day, share them among those who followed me, and reflect on them in the evening, was a draw. Being able to consume the daily thoughts from content producers is another big win. I follow a lot of entrepreneurs who share their thoughts in a Q/A format.

One thing I’ve just never understood about Snapchat. Discovery.

Discovery Sucks

Of course, this isn’t news. But it’s one of the primary reasons I see people dropping the app in a heartbeat.

Now, to be fair, Snapchat has largely stuck to it’s roots, while focusing more on revenue generating paths. But the Achilles heel continues to be discovery. I’d follow many more content producers if there were easier ways of finding them. Instead, I’ve got to jump through needless hoops.

Regardless, I found a group of people who product amazing content and that’s kept me coming back. In addition to my personal friends, I find a lot of value from following Mark Suster, Gary Vee, Justin Kan, and others.

I follow a lot of people on Twitter who I’d love to connect with on Snapchat. If they wish to remain private, that’s fine.

Time Ticking

I’m not in “Snapchat is dead” boat by any stretch of the imagination. This is the natural evolution of product development. It remains to be seen how well influencers adopt Instagram stories, and how well each product team moves from here.

For people, especially marketing types, considering, “Do I use Snapchat? Or Instagram?” It’s a fairly simple answer.

Instagram nailed it’s integration of stories. Despite what the product people think out there it was a bold and intelligent move, executed on a different level. With Facebook’s ability to activate an immense amount of users, and paired with the base Instagram experience, you’ve got a lot of solved problems out of the gate.

  1. You can hide your posts from specific people by Profile > Options > Story Settings > Hide Story From
  2. You can limit those who send you messages to only the people you follow
  3. You can easily traverse backward and forward through stories (swipe left or right), including individual moments of a story (tap left or right side of the screen)
  4. You can post content you’ve captured within the last 24 hours (swipe down on the post screen)

All of these gestures I accidentally discovered within minutes of using the app. No crazy tap-and-hold business.

There are issues. I’ve listened to people who love Snapchat filters. Clearly, this has to be on the top of Instagram’s pile of product enhances once they iron out any stability updates.

Who iterates faster? I’d give that edge to Instagram/FB.

Without a doubt this will be a blow to Snapchat for those who really love that aspect of Snapchat. These numbers are still nothing to overlook, but for those who used Instagram and Snapchat, in parallel, will have serious doubts pushing content to both platforms. At least as long as there is no convenient tools to do such a thing.

Product People

Like the game industry, product people tend to obsess over this much more than the average user. Product people shame businesses for copying features. But, that’s how this business works. If you create a great idea people will take it if it fits into their game plan. It’s a natural cycle.

At the end of the day the average user only cares about the product working for them. Does the integration of a new feature enhance my ability to use the application?

Thankfully, Snapchat doesn’t have this issue, but for new startups this reveals something very important to think about.

If you’re working on something new you can’t put all of their chips on red — offering a well-rounded feature instead of a purpose-driven business. What happens when [insert company here] just implements your feature and activates their immense brand around it?

Moving Forward

It’s amazing how fast things move in the social space. It’s too early to call, personally, given how much I’m already invested in Snapchat. I do get the sense that I will be deleting Snapchat and I don’t get the reasons for new users, who already happen to be on Instagram, to take advantage of Snapchat like I did.

As a new brand, who loves the idea of stories? It’s a no brainer. Stick with what you’re probably on — Instagram.

Only Snapchat knows where the future is for them. But I get the sense that they’re on their heels. That’s not a bad position to be in.

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