Instagram recently launched a new feature called Instagram Stories, described by the social platform as “a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day… As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.”
With upwards of 500 million active monthly users, Instagram has a massive audience. It’s not surprising, then, that the new feature has sparked a lot of conversation among users. Some had positive feedback:
if you think about it… #Instagram stories actually makes a lot of sense and is a solution to various ‘Instagram social rules’
— henny kravitz (@gimmesnax) August 3, 2016
But a lot of fans just compared the new feature to Snapchat:
It’s no secret that Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013 and Snapchat turned it down. Therefore, the introduction of Instagram Stories is not all that surprising. For fans of Snapchat and Instagram, though, it doesn’t make the launch of the new feature any less annoying.
1. Listen to your users and perfect your platform.
To continue to engage a massive audience and appease key financial stakeholders, Instagram has to keep introducing new features. But, did Instagram have to parallel Snapchat so closely?
Instead, the app could have honed in on features its users have actually been calling for that would make its experience smoother. For example, the ability to repost another user’s image without using a third-party app like Repost for Instagram or Repost on Websta.
Last year, Instagram responded to users that were using third-party apps to collage photos, and then post to their feeds by offering Layout from Instagram. But, incorporating Layout into the Instagram app itself would make a lot of sense and, again, make the app’s experience less cumbersome.
2. Name it something other than “Stories.”
As Instagram decided to incorporate momentary content sharing, it could have at the very least been more creative with naming it. When adding an image or video to Snapchat, the slideshow feature is called “My Story.” Instagram making “story” plural is not different enough – it’s the same thing. In other words, Instagram Stories is literally copied from the name of Snapchat’s feature.
Snapchat has 150 million daily users, meaning it’s not an unknown platform where no one would notice that it’s been ripped off (not meaning that would be OK either). With such vast resources available through Facebook, it’s frustrating that they couldn’t have come up with another word (i.e. tales, diaries, etc.) to name the feature.
3. “So, it’s Snapchat?”
With the obvious similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat, it’s not surprising that critics of the social platforms have a lot to say – both negative and positive. In its announcement on the blog about Instagram Stories, though, Instagram could have been more forthcoming with how Stories is different than Snapchat. The blog explains the tools within the feature but, as some of its fans have called out in their posts, there are usability differentiators within Stories that make it a new experience. Instagram should have led the conversation with that, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room.
It’s no secret at the Overit office that I am a fan of Snapchat, but I love Instagram too. It’s visually engaging and easy to use. With Instagram Stories, a number of anti-Snapchat users will foray into real-time and creative social media, which is awesome. However, a bit of creativity and varying messaging could have gone a long way with this announcement.
All in all, it hasn’t even been two weeks since Instagram introduced Stories, and change is never happily embraced (remember when Facebook redesigned its newsfeed?). It will be interesting to see how Instagram updates Stories, and how Snapchat will respond to the direct competition.