When Instagram launched the “Stories” feature we’re pretty sure everyone did a double take and then went right over to make sure Snapchat hadn’t opened up by accident. Well, kids, it turns out you weren’t hallucinating. It seems Instagram literally has zero chill and has decided to jump on the very lucrative bandwagon.
Let’s set the stage with a little back story because it is delicious. July 2011 three best friends from Stanford University launch an app called “Pictaboo” and by the end of the summer, it had only 200 users. As is usual with tech startups, the friends fought over money and by August one friend got booted out and things got really interesting. By fall 2011 the app got renamed “Snapchat” and all the millennials began flocking to it because the internet never forgets and they learned that the hard way. By 2012 Snapchat had exploded and everyone wanted a piece including Facebook who tried their very hardest to create the next Snapchat, which they tried to do with several stillborn apps such as “Poke” in 2012 (a Snapchat clone), “Slingshot” also in 2012 (ANOTHER Snapchat clone) and a final “self-destructing message” feature on Facebook Messenger which thankfully never launched.
It’s common knowledge that Instagram was bought by Facebook in April 2012 for a billion dollars. Let’s just pause and let that sink in because a billion is no joke. Now fast- forward a bit to 2013 when after their many failures Mark Zuckerberg tried to finally get Snapchat for his own however he got curved by CEO Evan Spiegel who turned down his offer of 3 billion dollars.
Now instead of Mark and Instagram to just take their L gallantly and exit to stage left, he decided, to approve the roll-out of the “stories” feature which is an EXACT COPY OF THE SNAPCHAT STORY IN EVERY WAY. Even Instagram Co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom admitted it, telling the New York Times that “other companies deserve all the credit” for popularizing disappearing photos and videos. To be honest, we admire their brass, even though they kind of did what Reggie Bush did when he got another girlfriend that looks exactly like Kim Kardashian, which is when you lose something just get something that looks like the thing you want but really isn’t.
Even though Instagram might have copied off of their competitor, you have to admit that it seems to be working out pretty well for them. Like it was said on the Instagram blog “Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too.” and users have really gotten into the spirit of the story and embraced it wholeheartedly, the images and videos put up there are decidedly less polished and curated than what we’re used to seeing on the social media platform. However, it’s kind of a double-edged sword, because on the down side Instagram has always been the place to post your most epic, amazing, envy-inducing “my life is so much better than yours” photos and as such many users especially the cool kids as well as brands and influencers pride themselves on the aesthetics of their Instagram profiles and with the introduction of the “Stories” feature the whole polished look seems like its being pushed to the back of the line.
Snapchat might also be winning with the intimate, uncut, unscripted, laid back vibe it gives off, all users (celebrities included) tend to post more casual images and videos and Instagrams vibe of a carefully crafted aesthetic might flow over into the stories and turn it into another place to be even fancier and more superficial than ever before. However it’s a well known fact that Snapchats user base is on the young side with an average age range of 13 – 25 and it’s on this point that Instagram has the advantage, because everyone and their grandma is on there (for real check out this cool ass grandma) and with that diverse user demographic the stories will definitely reach a wider audience than Snapchat.
One thing we’ll have to watch out for though, is how well Instagram stories does in the long run, with the effort they’re making, trying to get the fun and laid back vibe of Snapchat they seem to be trying to become a place where people post not just the picture-perfect images, the special moments, the curated stuff; it’s now a place where you’re allowed to be human, you can be silly, messy and all the intrinsically human things we usually reserve for face to face moments or Snapchat.