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Stories as told by Instagram and Snapchat

How Instagram's newest feature impacts social media.

Stories as told by Instagram and Snapchat

Earlier this month, Facebook-owned Instagram launched Stories, a feature that allows users to upload chronological pieces of content that can be played continuously and disappear after 24 hours. If that feels familiar, that’s because it is. The new feature has received quite a bit of flack for what users are calling a blatant rip-off of Snapchat. Instagram even copied Snapchat’s name for the feature verbatim. Both apps, Instagram only a year older, have been known for their massive appeal to millennials and brands.

A few weeks ago, we published a blog post about Snapchat and what to consider when implementing it into you school’s social media lineup. Many of the tips and pointers we highlighted in the article are relevant on the new Instagram feature recently rolled out, particularly due to the fact that Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories are nearly identical in both concept and execution.

So, curious about Instagram Stories? Here’s what you need to know.

The Difference

At its core, there isn’t much of a difference between Instagram Stories and the platform that inspired it. Where Snapchat beats Instagram is supplemental features and experience. Snapchat is way ahead in terms of unique filters, facial recognition, etc. It seems as though Instagram only wanted to imitate the core aspects.

For Instagram, the introduction of Stories will not revolutionize how Instagram is used, but it will impact how it’s engaged with. Quite simply, Stories has added yet another dimension of usability and content creation to what is already one of the most beautiful social networks out there.

With the ability to use the traditional form of posting or the new Stories feature, users now have a multitude of ways to engage with an audience, whether that’s with well-edited professional looking photographs, or raw POV footage uploaded directly from a phone that feels more personal.

Will it stick?

In short, yes. Instagram, and the rest of the Mark Zuckerberg’s army have taken the “if you can’t beat them, copy them” approach. It seems like a safe bet to say it won’t fail due to Instagram’s already massive user base and the familiarity most users already have with newly added features.

For most universities, the appeal of Instagram Stories lies in the ability to experiment with a new kind of content distribution without having to build an audience from scratch or learn the ins and outs of a new app. This massively shrinks the barrier to entry for universities, who likely already have a sizable audience on Instagram. Indeed, for universities who were wary, but still considering Snapchat, Instagram Stories may now be the smarter option.

The Evolving Social Landscape

The fact that Instagram decided to compete head-to-head with Snapchat – especially after Mark Zuckerberg’s failed attempted to buy Snapchat last year – is a big deal. It’s hard to say who this will benefit most. Both social networks are extremely competitive and have similar active user numbers. Snapchat’s edge is with users under 25, a key target demographic for colleges and universities, while Instagram’s edge is with users over 25. Time will tell which medium will prevail but it’s a close race now, and Instagram deserves credit for being able to jump right in and compete.

For now, universities should be open to testing both platforms due to their growing popularity. Instagram solidified Snapchat’s place in the competition as a threat. It’s proven the model of 24-hour handheld photo and video is a wave of the future.

Still nervous to jump into ephemeral content? Check out our tips on using Snapchat from a few weeks back. Apply those lessons, with Snapchat or Instagram’s Stories feature, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the etiquette and technique required for an effective Story campaign.

The Bottom Line

If you took our advice and your school is already using Snapchat, don’t ditch the model or decide to focus on one over the other. Find a way to implement both or focus on one until you determine whether or not the results are positive. If Instagram copying these features from Snapchat means anything, it has proven that the ‘Story’ model of publishing content is more popular than ever and probably the best new way to connect with an audience.

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