Instagram Stories — They Brought the Fight to Snapchat

Introducing Instagram Stories which is a direct clone of the social network Snapchat

I was nothing short of surprised this afternoon. I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that Instagram now has a “stories” feature. I saw reactions from all across the spectrum that are normal when a heavily used app make a big update. You can now share videos or pictures to your Instagram Story and they disappear after 24 hours. Isn’t that kind of like Snapchat?

Is Instagram Stories Similar to Snapchat?

The short answer is yes, Instagram Stories is kind of like Snapchat. Instagram is not shying away from the Snapchat comparison either. Here is what the CEO of Instagram had to say about it:

“They deserve all the credit (Snapchat),” but insisted “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.”

I totally agree and respect Instagram for not dancing around the Snapchat comparison. It is almost impossible to ignore the similarities between Snapchat and Instagram, but does it really matter? What exactly is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories allows you to take a picture or video and share it to your stories feed. For only 24 hours, your followers are able to access those shared pictures and videos. As an add-on to the current Instagram experience, your stories feed will appear at the top of your Instagram feed. Once you update your Instagram app, you will be able to share and view Stories.

How Do You Take a New Picture or Video and Share it to Stories?

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  1. Press on the plus symbol at the very top left of the screen.
  2. Your camera will open up for taking a picture or video.
  3. Take a picture by pressing the camera button once or take a video by holding down the camera button until your video is done (just like Snapchat).
  4. Once you have taken your video or picture, you can doodle on it with the pen, write a message and swipe the screen for different filters.
  5. Press the check mark at the very bottom middle of the screen to share your picture or video.
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Press the check mark to share the photo to Stories

Once you share something to your story, it will show up on your feed as the first thumbnail.

How Do You Share a Previously Taken Photo or Video to Stories?

  1. Press on the plus symbol at the very top left of the screen.
  2. Your camera will open up for taking a picture or video.
  3. Swipe down on the screen.
  4. Swiping down will show you the photos and videos you have taken in the last 24 hours.
  5. Press on the photo or video you would like to share.
  6. Press the check mark at the very bottom middle of the screen to share your picture or video.
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Press on a previously taken picture or video to share it to Stories

View Your Story or Stories From Accounts You Follow

Above the most recent pictures, your story and stories from accounts you follow will show up at the very top of your Instagram feed. These stories will show up as thumbnails. Press on a thumbnail to view yours or any other story.

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Once viewing someone’s story, tap a video or photo to skip to the next one. Swipe down on a picture or video to exit Stories. If you do not exit Stories, pictures and videos will keep coming until you get to the end of your Stories feed.

How Do You See Who has Viewed Your Picture or Video Shared to Stories?

One of the best Snapchat metrics is viewing who has seen a snap in your story. Instagram has something similar. You are able to see who has viewed your picture or video shared to Instagram Stories:

  1. From the top of your Instagram feed, press on the thumbnail picture that says Your Story.
  2. Your pictures or videos will start rolling and you will see an eye with a number at the very middle bottom of each picture or video.
  3. Press on the eye or swipe down and a list of people who have viewed your picture or video will expand.
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Having Fun with Pictures and Videos

Similar to Snapchat, you can access different color filters, draw and type messages on your photos or videos. You can only access these after you take a picture or video:

  • Swipe left or right to access filters.
  • Press the pen icon at the top right of the screen to draw (three types of pens are available), all your colors are at the bottom of the screen.
  • Press the text icon at the very top right of the screen to type in a message (you can shrink it or expand it by pinching or spreading your fingers apart).

What Does the Stories Update Mean for Instagram?

Will Stories negatively or positively impact Instagram? Who knows, it’s way too early to tell. Maybe yes, maybe no. Some people will get mad, some will love it and most will probably use it at some point. I think we should all save our judgments until Stories has a chance to mature. Instagram will also develop against it and Stories should only get better.

Instagram Most Likely Expanded the Potential Active User Base

Instagram just hypothetically grew its active user base because someone like me can now use it. I’ve had a presence on Instagram for awhile but never really fit with the platform. I take bad photos. I’m not artsy and I really don’t like most inspirational quotes, therefore, Instagram has not really been my go-to platform for creating content.

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Now with Stories, I can share pictures or videos socially unacceptable in the understood Instagram code of conduct. In other words, I can approach Stories with the Snapchat platform mentality of showing life as it happens (#nofilter).

What Does Stories Mean for Snapchat?

Snapchat just got even more competition. It was a matter of time before Facebook launched a direct assault at the Snapchat platform. Whether or not the storming of Snapchat’s castle proves successful won’t be known for a while — maybe even years. Snapchat is gaining more and more momentum and hopefully this Instagram update will drive even more innovation.

What Does Stories Mean for You?

Pay attention to Snapchat and Instagram but do not get romantic about which social networks work best for your business (slight twist on Gary Vaynerchuk quote). As Carlos Gil mentioned in this video, A/B test, create content for each platform and see which one works best. In other words, figure out the winner and go all in.

Personally, I prefer Snapchat to every other social channel. You could say I’m a bit romantic about Snapchat and have some loyalty because of how it fits my style. If the tides change and Snapchat is not where I should be, I’m moving on.

Does it Matter if Instagram is Similar to Snapchat?

No. The Instagram CEO is completely correct. It’s all about how you take something to your network with your own spin. Look at Apple products. I buy them because I think they make the best computer, smart phone and tablet (they didn’t invent those). They market products with their own spin and understand me as a consumer.

A Better Snapchat and Instagram User Experience

We should all be rejoicing that Instagram added Stories. We should get a better Snapchat experience (from more competition) and a better Instagram experience (to compete more with Snapchat). This competition will certainly bring innovation on both sides (already evidenced by Instagram Stories). It’s a win for companies marketing on both platforms and for consumers using each channel.


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