In the past fortnight we have seen yet another significant move in a continuous game of social media chess.
In the battle to reign victorious as king of the platforms, Instagram announced the release of ‘stories’ – a feature almost identical to that of its rival, Snapchat, which allows users to share photos and videos in a slideshow format for their followers to see.
It seems that to be better isn’t always to be creative or different, sometimes taking a winning formula from one of your opponents, and implementing it as your own will also do the trick!
There are plenty of ways to look at this move from Instagram. Is it competitive? Is it desperate? Or is it simply necessary in an industry where the ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ cliché doesn’t apply?
From Instagram’s perspective I think the perceived benefits of introducing stories were just too big to ignore, regardless of whether it looked desperate or unoriginal. Instagram stories have already been lapped up by brands and celebrities, who boast substantial followings, while offering another interesting feature to the average Instagram user that could potentially attract them away from Snapchat.
“Snapchat deserves all the credit for stories feature”
It seems even Instagram CEO, Kevin Stystrom, is under no illusion that Instagram’s update is more or less an identical copy of Snapchat.
In a recent interview with Tech Crunch, the Instagram CEO said that Snapchat deserved “all the credit” for stories, before insisting; “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.”
Instagram users can doodle on images using a paintbrush tool, exactly like Snapchat. Users will also be able to add text to the bottom of images and videos, exactly like Snapchat. Content uploaded to a user’s story will then only be accessible for 24 hours before expiring; you guessed it, exactly like Snapchat. In fact, the only feature Snapchat still holds as its own are filters – for now anyway.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow for the photo-messaging platform, which has enjoyed substantial growth in recent times. Snapchat will undoubtedly see Instagram’s decision to adopt stories as underhand, especially as it seems almost no attempt has been made to develop or tweak the concept.
Instagram has shown that they are willing to ‘play dirty’ even if it is a well-intentioned update made to improve user experience. Somehow I don’t think the ‘deserved credit’ will be much of a consolation for Snapchat’s producers.
Instagram has taken an important piece from Snapchat’s board, as they push harder than ever for the social media checkmate.