This post was originally written in August 2016. Since then, Instagram Stories has continued to evolve- coming out with stickers, highlights and the ability to archive stories.
To celebrate Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s recent engagement to former Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr, Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, gave him the ultimate congratulatory gift.
He jacked Snapchat’s best-known feature and featured it atop the Instagram feed, once again illustrating that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — or just outright copying. Instead of face swap, we got app swipe.
As you may have noticed, either via news headlines or by simply opening Instagram and saying “well hello there, you look familiar,” the photo-sharing giant released Instagram Stories, a feature that is remarkably similar to Snapchat Stories. And by remarkably similar, I mean it’s the exact same thing. Systrom even gave Snapchat “all the credit.” Basically, you now have the option to create Snapchat-like stories in Instagram and those stories are featured at the top of your feed.
Something tells me the Winklevoss twins just reached out to Spiegel for a coffee date.
As both a millennial consuming more digital content than I care to admit, and a professional social media marketer, here are my opinions of what Instagram’s latest feature means for Snapchat, brands, and the future home of your selfies.
Same Feature, Different Users
Snapchat and Instagram may have the same story feature, but they do not have the same users. Thus, your social media strategy will fail if it’s the same on both platforms. Your brand’s social media analyst should not only consider demographics, but also customer journey.
Is your business objective to build awareness? Invest in Instagram advertising and create a story that differentiates you from the competition. Are you seeking to test a new product or run a special promotion? Engage and delight the devoted souls who are your Snapchat followers.
Put simply, your top-of-the-funnel fans are more likely to be intrigued on Instagram, while your brand ambassadors want to be rewarded with exclusive, special content on Snapchat. Why is Snapchat more exclusive?
That brings me to my next point …
Following a User on Snapchat Is a Process
Do you realize how much work it is to follow someone on Snapchat? First you need to know their username — usually discovered via a separate social media app (typically Twitter or Instagram) — then you have to physically close out of that app, open Snapchat, and either manually enter the username or upload a screenshot of a fingerprint-like ghost (all this, assuming you’re not “nearby” that person’s smartphone, another way to add friends).
This is the manual labor your current Snapchat followers had to go through to follow you.
In addition, users voluntarily watch stories. Therefore, the names you see under your story are your brand ambassadors, loyal advocates, and evangelists. Marketers know it’s essential to keep current customers happy, and smart marketers know doing it right can help reach even more customers.
Your newly acquired Instagram Stories watchers can’t hold an a candle to your ride-or-die Snapchat warriors.
The “Oh, My Grandma Is Now on Facebook” Effect
“We want to make sure to keep the soul of what made us love it at the beginning: Share whatever I want, when I want, with who I want.” — Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO in an interview with TechCrunch.
Just last week I cleaned out my Snapchat friends from about 100 to 40. I got over the initial guilt of deleting sorority sisters I haven’t texted since senior year and kept my news feed strictly to people, bloggers, and brands whose stories I actually care to watch.
More important, only this hand-selected group is able to see my stories.
This exclusivity means I can truly “share whatever I want, when I want, with who I want.” Because unless you’re a Sunday school teacher or a Teletubby, you’re not going to abide by that carefree rule of thumb on Instagram, where everyone and their mother follows you.
Snapchat monetizes stories and filters now, but it’s only a matter of time until Instagram follows suit. For this reason, research shows that social media advertising budgets will increase as we plan for 2017.
Whichever app can find the delicate balance between the “cool factor” and the paid advertisement experience will be the app that holds onto its audience.
In Conclusion …
It will be interesting to see how Instagram accommodates the potential hundreds of stories that one person could be following while still maintaining a seamless news feed experience. It’s clear that adding stories into its existing platform is going to be more successful than its past attempts at a Snapchat-esque channel (Slingshot, anyone?), but I’m not about to bury Snapchat in the social media graveyard.
Rest in peace, Google+, and may you find cold comfort in joining Myspace and Friendster.
If you’re like me and love to see technical similarities and differences in app nuances, this helpful article may tickle your fancy.
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