Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories. Does Better UX Translate to Better Storytelling?

Cue a video of Millennials traipsing through the woods, 20-somethings seemingly more concerned with sharing the experience than the actual great outdoors. Cue a woman shopping alone, sharing pictures of a “Drive” inspired jacket in order to make a collective purchase decision. Cue people at a karaoke bar — but not just any karaoke bar — the type where you rent a private room with the sole intent of not singing in front of strangers.

Do these seem like great, creative stories? Stories that should be shared with the world? Hell no. While Instagram’s promotional video is less than inspiring, it’s gotten the social media world abuzz. This week the company introduced Instagram Stories, a new feature that allows you to stream and share multiple photos and videos together in a slideshow format.

“Our mission has always been to capture and share the world’s moments, not just the world’s most beautiful moments,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram, told the New York Times.

Instagram’s more than 500 million users can now share their stories — even mundane ones like hiking, shopping and singing karaoke — to the public or their friends.

Instagram Stories Copied Snapchat. Period.

There is no denying that the feature is a blatant copy of Snapchat Stories — even the name is the same — which Snapchat launched in 2013 to its 150 million daily users. In internet and social media time, that’s basically an eon between the launch of the two, but users already claim that Instragram made the feature much easier to use.

Exactly like Snapchat, Instagram Stories’ photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in a feed. In both apps, the stories are limited to 10-second videos and are displayed in a row of small circles inside the app, which let you draw or add stickers to photos and videos you share.

Unlike Snapchat, the Instagram feature offers clues throughout the interface, making it simple to use. The drawing feature is just as powerful, but most importantly the buttons are labeled, so you always know what you’re looking at — what you’re creating — and where you’re going next.

In the New York Times interview, Systrom claims Instagram Stories aims to lower the bar for sharing all types of photos and video.

“This format unlocks a new version of creativity for us,” he said.

Hopefully it’s true. Unlike his company’s drab promotional video, hopefully this enhanced UX will translate to better stories. Stories that aren’t diluted by a user’s inability to grasp the platform’s bells and whistles. Stories that are timely, poignant and worth sharing.

Instagram’s promotional video ends with the age-old adage, “Everyone has a story to tell.” The question remains, should you tell it? If so, how? And more importantly, will anyone care?

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