Is Instagram Stories a Rip-Off?

When Instagram released their “stories” feature on August 1, there were an onslaught of memes, articles, and videos accusing Instagram of copying Snapchat.

However this is what Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom had to say about that in an interview:

“When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.

Facebook invented feed, LinkedIn took on feed, Twitter took on feed, Instagram took on feed, and they all feel very different now and they serve very different purposes. But no one looks down at someone for adopting something that is so obviously great for presenting a certain type of information.”

Systrom is saying they just adopted the stories format Snapchat has made popular just like how hashtags and the “@username” handles were adopted from Twitter and how feeds were adopted from Facebook. Every social media platform is constantly changing, improving, and evolving in its own way to better accomodate users and make things easier for people. Instagram adopting Snapchat’s story feature might seem like a total rip off of Snapchat’s feature, but the fact is that this has happened in almost every other social media platform such as adopting the use of feeds, hashtags, or the “@” handles.

If a social media platform isn’t constantly improving and innovating, then it will die out and become obsolete. This isn’t the first time that Facebook tried to come out with something similar to Snapchat such as when it came out with its Slingshot app which had failed. However, Instagram adding stories to its platform might just work because Instagram was always about sharing your experiences, which started out with just pictures and now includes videos and stories. According to statistics, Instagram already has around 500 monthly active users, which is more than double the number of monthly active Snapchat users, so Instagram users can easily utilize the story features on a platform they have already become familiar with rather than download another platform altogether such as Slingshot.

Instagram is a carefully curated feed of pictures and videos so sometimes it might not be easy to share those day-to-day experiences that you might want to share with others. However with the added feature of stories, users are able to share their experiences that might not be “Instagram-worthy” or be fit to be captured in just a single photo or video. Instagram influencers will be able to give a personal look into their lives with Instagram rather than having to move over their existing audience to Snapchat to see bits and pieces of their lives. Businesses will be able to give their audience a personal look into their events or behind-the-scenes of their business rather than just posting a single photo or video about it, giving a more immersive and engaging experience for their audience.

There are also several ways in which Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories differ. For one, Instagram Stories is a lot more easier to manage and understand than Snapchat, which the older demographics (30 plus) seem to have a hard time understanding how to use. The Instagram Stories also has more drawing features and text features than Snapchat which hasn’t done much to improve its color palette or other features. And Instagram has the discover feature while Snapchat still doesn’t have a way of finding other Snapchatters in different niches unless you use Ghostcodes, which is a third-party app. What’s also great about Instagram Stories is that you can post a story to your Instagram account if there’s a picture or video you want to keep as a memory permanently on your Instagram feed whereas Snapchat you’d have to just save it onto your camera roll to share again later. To check out some more features on how Instagram and Snapchat Stories are similar and different, you can go here.

The main point that I wanted to share was that Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories are similar but can be used in very different ways. Snapchat is more for personal story sharing with close friends and family (which is probably why they don’t have a discover feature) though it is now becoming more widely used by that it does require a discover feature if it’s to keep up with its growth. Businesses have also been using it as a way to establish a more personal connection with their audience and customers though many still have a hard time knowing how to use it from a business standpoint. Instagram, on the other hand, has already established itself as a platform most businesses want to get onto to build a social presence. Entire businesses and e-commerce sites have come out of building a following on Instagram. And Instagram has more brands and companies on its platform and has done its part to accomodate businesses with its business profile update. Snapchat will need to come out with more features and updates soon if it’s to keep up with what Instagram is doing to allow users and businesses to share their experiences and stories with others.

In the end, I would advise to keep both your Snapchat and Instagram accounts if you have both. However if you haven’t even started on Snapchat, it’s really up to you whether you want to move onto Snapchat or just stick with Instagram to share your stories there on top of your pictures and videos. We have yet to see what updates Snapchat and Instagram will come out with but just remember to be consistent on whatever social media platforms you are on and to be providing value to your audience. In the end, what matters is that you are able to adapt, adjust, and provide the same kind of value whatever social media platform you decide to take on. Always be open-minded to changes and find out by trial-and-error which method works best for you.