Happy Wednesday everybody! I’m gonna be totally honest and say that my week has been more than a little interrupted by Instagram’s latest update. I know I probably sound crazy, but my head was completely spinning this morning as I was trying to wrap it around how Instagram Stories will impact every aspect of my career. I work in advertising here in New York and social media has obviously become a huge place for marketers and brands to advertise over the last few years. Of course I also use social media for LC’s Closet, so there’s a lot of figuring out and wondering how this change is going to impact both my 10-7 (yep I don’t start work until 10am) and my 7-12/weekend jobs.
I’ve been talking about getting back into writing my blog tips posts for the longest time (it’s been 10 months since my last one – hooooow has it been that long?), and I was going to get stuck back into it with an updated guide to mastering Instagram. It’s been almost 2 years since I wrote my original Complete Guide to Mastering Instagram for a guest post on Learn Inbound, and A LOT has changed on the platform since then. For example, Instagram was once the ‘life in square format’ platform, now you can post pictures in landscape and portrait format too. There’s also a more recent algorithm update, where images no longer appear in chronological order in your feed. I think this latest update – Instagram Stories – is definitely a great and super relevant way to get right back into my blog tips content.
First of all, the whole Instagram story thing made a lot of sense to me yesterday when I saw one of my favourite Snapchatters, Eva Chen, updating her Instagram story at no man’s rate. Eva is head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram and I had actually noticed how quiet she has been on Snapchat over the past few months. So it all started to add up…
So What Happened?
“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
Instagram basically stole the feature Snapchat totally owned – Stories! Yesterday they introduced a new feature that lives at the top of your Instagram newsfeed. Just like Snapchat (my Snapchat username is @lcscloset), it allows you to upload photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. These images don’t live on your Instagram feed – Your feed remains completely separate (you can add stories to your feed if you want to though), so it really is like 2 different apps in 1.
I do have to give Instagram’s CEO props for fully giving Snapchat credit for the feature and totally owning up to the fact they ripped off their idea. However, although there are some glaring similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat, there are also some differences that some people feel make Instagram Stories even better than Snapchat…
- The whole concept of Stories – Images and videos that completely disappear after 24 hours. This adds the ‘real’ aspect users felt Instagram was lacking.
- You can doodle and write on your Instagram Story masterpiece – A fun feature that was missing from the highly curated Instagram feed.
- Filters – Instagram also has some filters to add to your master piece after it’s been created… And they are good!
- You can see who’s watching. You can’t see who sees your Instagram feed posts, but you can see absolutely everyone who has watched your story – going 1 step further than Snapchat, where you can’t see who’s watched after a certain number of views.
- You can message people directly.
- Instagram Stories are easier to use – Every feature is super clear. For example, rather than having to swipe up to send a message to someone, there is a ‘Send Message’ button.
- You can watch anyone’s story (even those you don’t follow), as long as their account is public. All you have to do is tap their profile picture. You’ll know they have a story if there is a ring around the picture in the Instagram colours (I’m @lcscloset on Instagram if you want to see mine 😉 ).
- There’s some additional feature options. For example, there’s different types of pen features that I’m loving (I love the neon pen, in fuschia of course – my fav colour).
- No lenses – Although I wouldn’t rule these out in the future.
- Instagram stories have flexible privacy settings, that allow you to exclude certain users from viewing your stories, even if they follow you.
- There is an option to post (some of) your Instagram story on your main profile if you want to. This is where stories will come in as a great tool for marketers, brands and influencers to test the type of posts they share. If something goes down well on your story or gets a lot of positive feedback, it could be something that will work well on your Instagram feed.
- You can’t see when someone screenshots your story… So users can screenshot to their hearts content and you’ll never know.
- When you are finished sending a message on an Instagram Story, you are not directed back to the Instagram homepage. Messages are sent like a traditional direct message on Instagram. Unlike Snapchat, you get ‘stuck,’ for want of a better word, in the message. These messages also live forever (and ever and ever), rather than disappearing after they’ve been read.
To be honest, adding this feature makes total sense. Facebook wanted to buy Snapchat and Snapchat didn’t sell. It’s obvious that Facebook wanted in on the Snapchat action (it has a highly engaged young audience) and Instagram is the most suitable platform under their belt to incorporate this feature on. People are also looking for more ‘real’ moments and less of the curated, perfect moments were posted to Instagram everyday. But this update has left the marketer in me and probably a lot of other people out there with lots and lots of questions….
- Are people going to start hitting the unfollow button?
Personally, there are people I love following on Instagram that I literally cannot stand on Snapchat, so I don’t follow them there anymore. People follow certain people for very specific reason on different channels. So if they start seeing stories from people they really don’t want see, will they hit the unfollow button?
- Double content?
There’s also the question of double content. Do I post this on Snapchat? Instagram? Both? Obviously some people who follow you on Instagram don’t follow you on Snapchat and vise versa, but for the people who do follow you on both, they will get seriously bored seeing the same thing twice.
- Are engagements going to drop?
Stories are now right at the top of your feed, so the users eye is instantly drawn to them. As people scroll across to check out all the stories, does this mean they’ll be less likely to scroll down and engage with content in the feed?
- Will people with Stories get preference in the feed?
If you post a story and the people who follow you watch it, does that mean your content will show up higher in the Instagram feed? This is another question that goes back to Instagram’s algorithm update and outside of Facebook HQ, who the heck knows? But it’s possible.
- Is it going to be too much?
Instagram stories and the Instagram feed, Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Live, Twitter, YouTube, YouTube Live, the list goes on and on. There are so many different platforms fighting for users attention that I can’t help but wonder is this all going to get too much? I don’t know about you, but I know I’m guilty of falling into the rabbit hole of checking my Snapchat story for 5 minutes and an hour later I’m still scrolling (maybe I follow too many people?!). With this double feature now in Instagram, it’s another thing that going to eat up our precious time.
Brands are also going to want to get in on the action, so as we are hit with more and branded content, are we going to become complete immune to it? In 2007 the average person living in a city came into contact with 5,000 brands a day, surely with the rise of social media this figure has increased considerably?
- Is Snapchat dead?
I don’t think so. While I’m pretty sure they’re licking their wounds over at Snapchat HQ after this big blow to their uniqueness, Snapchat and Instagram still have two very distinct uses. Anyone who starts to use Instagram Stories in the same way they use Snapchat is being very foolish in my opinion. The audiences are different and they want and expect different content each platform. Jumping right in and bombarding people who like to look at your pretty pictures with a double up of your Snapchat content may not get the results you’re looking for.
Obviously this update is still super new and a little confusing, but I the deeper I get into reading up on it, the more I think it could work. It has definitely been really well thought out and like any great invention of the past, the first person created it (i.e Snapchat) and the second may well have just perfected it (Instagram)! I for one am very intrigued to see how this all plays out over the next few months…
Personally, I did like that Instagram and Snapchat were used in two very distinct ways. This update definitely blurs those distinct lines, but I do think it’s important to remember this when creating new Instagram Stories… In other words, Instagram Stories are not Snapchat and they shouldn’t be treated that way.
Anyway, you can still find me on both Snapchat and Instagram (I’m @lcscloset on both), so come follow along to see how this pans out.
What are your thoughts on the update? Love? Hate? Undecided? Let me know…
p.s. Erika is also sharing her thoughts on Instagram Stories on Retro-Flame today, so be sure to check that out too.