You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Instagram launches “Stories”, a Snapchatty feature for imperfect sharing

ICE Graveyard 2/08/2016 Josh Constine

People only post the highlights of their life on Instagram, so today the app adds its own version of “Stories” to poach goofy, off-the-cuff, everyday content from Snapchat. It works exactly like Snapchat Stories, allowing you to post 24-hour ephemeral photo and video slideshows that disappear. But since Instagram Stories appear at the top of the old feed, your followers will inevitably see them without you needing to build a new audience in a different app.

Instagram Stories is rolling out globally for iOS and Android over the next few weeks.

You could call it Snapchat for adults, a way for brands to post more without overwhelming people’s feeds, an alternative to Instagram’s Like-driven success theater, or a blatant ripoff.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wouldn’t disagree with you. When confronted about Instagram Stories being a clone of Snapchat Stories, he surprisingly admitted “They deserve all the credit”, 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.”

The Moments In Between

With 500 million monthly active users, 300 million daily actives, and now 250 million users on its Direct messaging feature, Instagram is enormous expansion for what Snapchat pioneered.

Facebook wants to own more unique, must-see original sharing that was reportedly down 15% year over year as of early 2016. But boosting sharing frequency has been hard for Instagram since people only post their most polished selfies, sunsets, and meals.

Systrom admits he hadn’t shared to Instagram at all during the six days before we met because none of the moments seemed special enough. “Instagram is a curated feed, but you only get to see the highlights” Systrom laments. Instagram’s sweat and blemish-hiding filters encouraged that social norm. And while Instagram recently started sorting its feed, people still worry that posting multiple times in a row will seem like they’re spamming their friends, so they hold back.

Stories creates a place for content that’s not “good enough” for the Instagram feed, or at least is too silly to fit in amongst the art. Since everything disappears, you don’t have to be ashamed of that awkward face or stupid joke forever the way things posted to your real Instagram profile reflect on you forever.

Facebook has tried multiple times to copy Snapchat with standalone apps like Poke, Slingshot, and Instagram Bolt. No one wanted another app, and they all failed and were pulled from the stores.

But Instagram may have found a breakthrough for solving this problem. Instead of burying a Snapchat competitor in another app people don’t need, it’s put it front and center of one they use all the time. And instead of trying to be special with weird mechanics like Slingshots reply-to-reveal content, it’s cloned Snapchat Stories down to the pixel because it’s already proven to work.

How Instagram Stories Works (Deja Vu)

It’s easiest to think of Instagram Stories in terms of what’s the same and what’s different from Snapchat Stories.

The Same

  • The Stories format laces the last 24-hours of 10-second-max photos and videos you’ve shared into a slideshow you can tap to fast-forward through
  • Everything you post disappears after 1 day
  • You shoot full-screen in the app or upload things from the last 24 hours of your camera roll (recently added to Snapchat with Memories)
  • You adorn your photos with drawings, text, and emoji, and swipeable color filters
  • You can save your individual Story slides before or after posting them
  • Your followers voluntarily tap in to pull your Story and view it, instead of it being pushed into a single feed
  • People can swipe up to reply to your Stories, which are delivered through Instagram Direct private messages
  • You can see who’s viewed your Story

Different

  • Instagram Stories appear in a row at the top of the main feed instead of on a separate screen like Snapchat and are sorted by who you interact with most, not purely reverse chronological like Snapchat
  • Anyone you allow to follow you on Instagram can see your Instagram Stories though you can also block people, opposed to building a separate network on Snapchat
  • You can swipe right or tap the Stories icon in the top left to open the Stories camera, opposed to Snapchat defaulting to the camera
  • You can hold the screen to pause a slideshow, or tap the left side to go back a slide, oppose to Snapchat’s time-limited, constantly progressing Stories
  • You can’t add old content to Instagram Stories unless you reimport or screenshot, while Snapchat lets you share old Memories with a white border and timestamp around them
  • Instagram offers three brush types for drawing: standard, translucent highlighter, and color-outlined neon, opposed to Snapchat’s single brush
  • Instagram offers custom color control for drawing with an easy picker as well as pre-made palettes like earth-tones or greyscale, while Snapchat custom color control is much more clumsy
  • Instagram currently lacks location filters, native selfie lens filters, stickers,  3D stickers, and speed effects but you can save content from third-party apps like Facebook-owned MSQRD and then share them
  • You can’t see who screenshotted your Instagram Story, while Snapchat warns you
  • You can’t save your whole day’s Story like on Snapchat, but you can post slides from your Story to the permanent Instagram feed

No Likes, No Judgement

At their core, the use cases are identical: Shoot, decorate, and frequently share little clips from your life. Instagram lacks some of Snapchat’s advanced features, but it’s built where many people, especially adults, already have a social graph built.

It’s that placement of Stories atop the Instagram, a simple design choice, that could make Instagram a hit. People love to vie for attention. If you give them a new window to show off through that’s smack dab at the front of an app their friends use, vanity will kick in and people will fill that space with their face and creations.

When Instagram launched six years ago, it was a new network open to experimentation in front of friends. People were trying to learn how to make art from camera phones. But over time, Instagram evolved into a game where everyone seeks to win the most Likes and validation. And so they only share the most exciting, pretty parts of the their life, and everything else is swept under the rug.

Eventually Instagram became the core permanent profile of the mobile generation, and everything you posted had to be good enough for you to be judged by forever. Teens created fake Instagram profiles called “Finstagrams” only their closest friends could see just so they could post whatever they wanted without grubbing for Internet points.

Now Instagram is offering a different way to share with no likes, no public comments, and a lot less pressure.

“We’re north of 500 million people using the product” Systrom concludes. We can either let the system evolve the way it evolves — I think that’s a great consumption business. But we want to make sure to keep the soul of what made us love it at the beginning: Share whatever I want, when I want, with who I want. The daily use case.”

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon