Social media trends

Instagram vs Snapchat: The Battle of the Stories

Over the last few weeks you may have noticed the appearance of ‘story’ bubbles at the top of your Instagram feed, with updates from people you follow. You may also have noticed that each photo-video compilation, in which users can add personalized drawings, captions and emojis,  disappears after 24 hours. “What an amazing, innovative, original idea!” you might be thinking. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last three and a half years, that is. But, if you, like 100 million other people, happen to use another very specific image messaging app, or have so much as looked at said app, you might find the new function a little…familiar.

Okay, let’s call it as it is. It’s basically Snapchat. Instagram has blatantly and unashamedly stolen the idea of ‘stories’ from Snapchat. They’re not even trying to deny it.

Snapchat released the stories function in October 2013. Now, 10 billion videos are viewed on the app every day. Clearly, Instagram wanted to get in on that action. Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO, doesn’t try to deny that the idea for their new update was taken from Snapchat. He says that each platform has created ideas that have then been adopted by others; Facebook with the feed format that so many other platforms now use, Twitter with hashtags, Instagram bringing filters to the forefront. Systrom says that taking inspiration from Snapchat stories for their own Instagram version is no different. He even credits Snapchat for the idea.

Systrom says it’s all about taking the idea and putting your own spin on it; but there aren’t as many differences between Snapchat and Instagram stories as we might have hoped. This leads us to beg the question; is it necessary to take someone else’s ideas at all? There’s a difference between being inspired by the work of others versus taking the product of their inspiration, with no creative work on your part.

Facebook, the big brother of Instagram, has tried (keyword: tried) to borrow ideas from Snapchat in the past; to little or no success. For example, in 2012 Facebook released Poke, an app that was particularly Snapchat-esque, with ephemeral photo messaging. Don’t worry, we hadn’t heard of it either; evidently it was a total flop. In fact, it no longer exists. We can’t help but wonder if Instagram stories will meet the same fate. Even if not, it’s doubtful Snapchat faces any real threat with Instagram’s latest update. Stories are only one function of Snapchat, and there are many aspects that are still unique to the app. Let us know when Instagram has a feature to morph your face into a bee with a chipmunk voice.  

We recently published a blog post about using Snapchat for social media marketing. Many of the features that make Snapchat so great for marketing are not available on Instagram with this update, which is part of why Snapchat will still have a strong foothold if Instagram stories take off. However, the new feature may prove useful for giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business, just as we’ve seen with Snapchat stories. It’s also handy to be able to reach a wide audience with your stories if you’ve already built up an Instagram following, but haven’t achieved as large an audience on Snapchat yet. Still, we maintain that Snapchat has a lot going for it even if Instagram stories gain popularity.

We think there’s something to be said for originality and innovation. While you might be tempted to copy that business you see doing social media or digital marketing well, just think that there’s potential for you to do it even better. By copying others, you are not guaranteed to live up to the full potential you may reach with your own, fresh idea. The world is ever-changing, especially the digital world. Taking ideas from other people means you’ll end up one step behind the crowd. Why not try leading instead?

Need some ideas for how you can stand out on social media? We can help! Let’s work together toward innovative solutions.