I am assuming a vast majority of my readers have an Instagram account. If you are an active user on Instagram you will have noticed the latest feature Instagram came out with. I think most everyone was baffled by this update. Basically, the update is Snapchat. Yep, simple as that. Instagram’s latest feature is the ability to post your choice of 10-second videos or individual photos to a new section of the app called “Stories”, how ironic.
I strongly believe this is due to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg (that’s the CEO and founder of Facebook for those that live under a rock) sees the true value, both in the long and short term, of Snapchat. If so, this is a direct result of Zuckerberg’s failed $3 billion deal back in 2013. When asked why he didn’t take the deal, Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel made the comment, “the short term gain isn’t interesting to me.”
However, Spiegel should be honored. As we all know, mimicry is the highest form of flattery. That’s exactly what Instagram has done with this update; mimicked Snapchat. They are trying to replicate the attention Snapchat has received over the past 3 years. They are right to do so. Although Instagram did not need an engagement boost (as it currently sits the #1 app in terms of engagement), this update, in my opinion, has certainly boosted statistics even more. However, much of the engagement Instagram Stories are receiving is users directing their followers to their Snapchat accounts.
This is causing an attention arbitrage for both Instagram and Snapchat. I believe content consumers will use this new feature to engage directly with their favorite celebrities and personalities on both platforms. In anything, Instagram has created a larger and more engaged audience for Snapchat and itself.
Although this newfound attention arbitrage is a positive, I do see some backlashes in this new update. First and foremostly, it is loud and noisy like Twitter. The last couple years Twitter has suffered from reduced engagement as the platform has become a content push atmosphere. Users can’t possibly keep up with everything their favorite accounts are up to. Similarly, Instagram’s new feature sports little profile bubbles at the top of the normal Instagram feed. Users scroll through and tap on the individual picture bubble to view the respective account’s story. In my opinion, this isn’t a very good organizational system. Instagram users who follow hundreds or even thousands of accounts will have a hard time sifting through the various stories. This is something Snapchat excels at within their application, separating personal snaps from alphabetically organized stories.
Additionally, Instagram Stories aren’t experiencing nearly the engagement that Snapchat has acquired. From personal experience, I have had around 10% or less engagement with Instagram stories and nearly 90% with Snapchat Stories. I do believe the Instagram stats will increase with time, however. Instagrammers are still hesitant to use the new feature and prefer Snapchat for such quick informative content transactions. Consequently, this new update could hurt or benefit Instagram in the future. Either users will find the addition compact and useful, or they will see it as a cluttered mess and will boycott using it altogether. In either case, I feel this benefits Snapchat as users are linking their Snapchat handles in their Instagram stories, as stated above.
Will Snapchat rebuttal Instagram’s update?Should Snapchat be scared? Has this hurt Snapchat in any way? Instagram?
Not immediately, if at all. I don’t think there is cause for concern (yet). The new update has proven beneficial for the brand thus far. Instagram is showing that Snapchat is doing something right. If they weren’t, why bother coping the behemoth social platform? Similarly, Snapchat shouldn’t be scared. They should stay alert and privy to such updates and should constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve their own social experience, just as any good company or brand should. Lastly, no harm has been done to Snapchat, as of now. I don’t see this update being a problem for them. However, I do feel it has helped Instagram and will continue to do so.
This doesn’t mean Instagram will eat Snapchat, similar to what Facebook did to MySpace a few years back. In fact, I highly doubt Instagram has the capacity to do such a thing. However, I think we will start to see more and more of this digital world war. Apps will continue to land grab for attention and try to be the next one-size-fits-all platform, like Facebook. Apps and platforms will battle, but at least for the near future, I don’t see any one platform emerging as a lone victor.