Understanding the New Instagram Update and Why They Imitated Snapchat



“Now that Instagram will allow their users to create content in a more fun, easy, and recognizable way, it means that Instagram, as a marketing platform, immediately becomes a more important part of your overall social media strategy.”


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Instagram just launched “Instagram Stories” to encourage people to share more moments throughout their day. For many people that use Instagram, it has become their photo Hall of Fame, where only the very best of the best are posted.

Now, trying to flip that mentality on its head, Instagram’s latest feature update takes a page directly out of Snapchat’s playbook. Learn what Instagram Stories are, and why it’s a major update for users and marketers to know about:

Introducing Instagram Stories + What They Look Like

Instagram Stories are exactly like Snapchat Stories. They even have the same name! As you share multiple photos and videos (including Hyperlapse videos, slow-motion ones, Boomerang snippets, and pre-recorded content), they’ll appear together in a slideshow format. That’s your story.

You can share as much as you want throughout the day (no need to worry about flooding someone’s feed). Stories disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in users’ feeds.


What The Experts Are Saying About Instagram Stories

We asked Bing Chen, prolific Snapchatter and former Global Head of Creator Development at YouTube, for his thoughts on today’s release:

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery, however I’m excited for the new Stories feature and the next phase of Instagram–they need it. Snapchat Stories, in contrast to Facebook–at large–has demonstrated humanity’s persistent desire to share personal experiences authentically. Instagram also has a unique ability to leverage its interest graph–of architecture, fashion, photography and more–to richen their own approach.”

How to Know When There Are Stories Ready For You to Watch

Now that you know a bit about Instagram Stories, you should also know that stories from people you follow appear in a bar at the top of your feed. These include Stories from your friends and favorite accounts you follow. When there’s something new to see, the profile pictures of the users will have a ring around them.

Start Watching Stories of Your Friends and Favorite Accounts

Similar to Snapchat Stories, you have full control over how you consume Instagram Stories. Once you tap someone’s icon (their profile photo), the slideshow will automatically start playing (make sure you have the sound on). You can tap the screen to advance “segments”, or swipe left or right to go to the previous or next user’s story.


Stories Contain Direct Messaging, Not Likes and Comments

If you want to get someone’s attention, or react to their Story, the only ways to do that are by watching the Story itself (you can see who views your content) or by sending a Direct Message straight from the Story.

Just tap the lower-left side of the screen to send a private message to that person via Instagram Direct. No likes, no hearts, no public interactions… Just. Like. Snapchat Stories. (via Instagram).


You Can Add Text and Draw on Stories

Within Stories are text and drawing tools. This is also just like Snapchat, but one of the most praised features of the new Instagram Stories is the neon pen. It’s not the standard one-color pencil effect that Snapchat is known for.

Rather, it creates beautiful highlights and artistic details while still writing clearly and accurately. The three drawing tools within Instagram Stories include a normal pen, a highlighter to color beneath text or add light-tough color effects, and a “neon pen” that draws in white with neon color borders.


Privacy Settings + Public Accounts

Your Stories will mirror the privacy settings you currently have on your Instagram account. Private account Stories can only be seen by the account’s followers, and you can even hide your Stories from specific people that follow you.

For example, if you didn’t invite someone to your beach party, and you don’t want them to see all of the exciting photos and videos you take while playing in the sand, you can hide your Stories from that specific person. They’ll never know you even posted. ?

If you want to watch the Stories of an account you don’t follow, you can go to the account’s page and tap on their profile photo to view their Stories from the last 24 hours. Be warned that they can see who watches their story, so creep cautiously.


See Who Watched Your Story

When watching your own story, simply swipe up to see which of your followers and friends watched each photo and video in your Story. One of the most interesting parts is the ability to post a particular part of your Story to your actual, “permanent” Instagram page that will appear on your account and in your followers’ feeds. Just like the good ‘ole days.

Remember When Facebook Acquired MSQRD?

Earlier this year, Facebook acquired MSQRD, an augmented-reality mobile app that allows users to record live video selfie animations, just like the selfie Lenses on Snapchat.

Most people wondered why and how Facebook would integrate MSQRD into their platform, but now that Instagram Stories is out in the wild, it would appear as if that was Facebook and Instagram’s plan all along.

It wouldn’t surprise me if very soon you’ll be able to create an Instagram Story with some fun animation layers to add to your face. From animals and celebrities to food and other crazy filters, MSQRD, if integrated, will be a fun, wild way to spruce up your Stories on Instagram.


What This Means for Marketers

One of the baseline reasons that Snapchat gained so much momentum over the last year or two is because of the amount of time that its users spend with the app. In May of this year, Snapchat said its worldwide daily active users (roughly 100 million) spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes every day on Snapchat (via Business Insider).

And here’s the mic-drop statistic that Snapchat told advertisers (until Instagram Stories emerged)… “Of those using it every day, 60% are also creating new content, whether it’s a photo or chatting friends, so it’s not just people passively watching.”

If eyeballs equals dollars, then yes, it makes sense for Facebook and Instagram to completely imitate one of Snapchat’s greatest features, especially among Millennials and Gen-Z users.

Think of Facebook as your hyper-personalized, social newspaper you pick up the morning and skim through during the day. It’s also the nightly news that helps you wrap up the day with entertainment, information, and community updates.

Snapchat, if you will, is your digital “can-and-string” full of inside jokes and friendly updates you send directly or to your whole network over the course of a day. Why send a mundane text when you can send a photo, video, and highly-personalized message in roughly the same amount of time?

Instagram Stories is going to lower that impressive Snapchat daily active user stat. They already have the network, the infrastructure, the comfort-level, and the global audience. As hot and popular as Snapchat seems to be, their global footprint doesn’t come close to Instagram.

Instagram has over 500 million users who log in ever month, 300 million who log in every day, and more than 80 percent are outside the United States (via The Verge).

Now that Instagram will allow their users to create content in a more fun, easy, and recognizable way, it means that Instagram, as a marketing platform, immediately becomes a more important part of your overall social media strategy.

Simply put, the more time people spend with an app or platform or community, the more reasons it gives you to invest time and money into that same area of focus.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to learn about the latest trends in Snapchat at Social Media Week London. Attendees will learn Snapchat 101 from the experts mastering the platform for their respective brands. Sign up to attend here!

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