The highest form of flattery
Yesterday, Instagram introduced its newest feature called “Instagram Stories,” and our reaction — check that, the entire internet’s reaction — went something like this:
“So… it’s, uhhhh, Snapchat?”
Yup, pretty much. In fact, despite a few minor differences, Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories are clones. And Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, is fine admitting that.
“[Snapchat] deserves all the credit,” he said. “But 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.”
What kind of spin is the ‘Gram putting on it?
There are a couple differences between Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories that immediately stand out.
First, Instagram Stories let users pause (hold your finger down) or rewind back to the previous slide (tap the left side of the screen), which makes it feel less “self-destructive-y” (new word we just invented) than Snapchat’s version.
Second, Instagram’s new-ish sorting algorithm will prioritize Stories based on who you interact with the most, as opposed to whoever posted most recently like how Snapchat does.
But if Instagram wins this battle…
It won’t be because of subtle interface differences. And while being able to block specific followers from seeing your Stories is awesome, it won’t be because of that, either.
Rather, they’ll win because Instagram is now a two-for-one special that already has some legitimate advantages over Snapchat to begin with.
Remember when we talked about how hard it is to find new people to follow on Snapchat? Well, it couldn’t be easier on Instagram with the built-in search and recommendations since it’s plugged into Facebook rather than your contacts.
That means it’s a breeze to find and follow hundreds if not thousands of your favorite friends, brands, and celebrities and, as a result, Instagram Stories has the potential to serve significantly more content than Snapchat’s OG version.
And more content means more followers which means more engagement.
And more engagement means… more ads!
For the past couple years Instagram’s been turning on the jets when it comes to ad revenue. With just over 500m monthly active users, the ‘Gram is expected to pull $1.5B in advertising revenue this year and triple it to $5B by 2018.
In order to get to those numbers, however, they’ll need to keep the engagement up and Stories is one way of doing it.
But before you shed a tear for Snapchat, consider that they got to be a “thing” in the first place through innovation and there’s always a chance they’ll come up with another, equally addicting and stealable idea.
Or they’ll just turn into the new Vine.