Instagram has officially announced the launch of its latest feature, Instagram Stories. The new feature allows users to share multiple photos and videos together – like a story. The idea was to give users the opportunity to post multiple photos and videos a day, without fear of “over-posting.” Users will be able to edit their content with text and drawing tools. Then the stories will disappear. If this is beginning to sound like a not-so-subtle Snapchat takeover, you’re not alone.
Similar to Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows users to share as many photos and videos as they want. They appear in a slideshow format and do not appear on a profile grid or feed. Like Snapchat, users can edit images with drawing tools, filters and text to personalize each pic. After 24 hours the photos and videos will disappear.
But the major differences between the two mostly involve saving and adding content and photo customization. While a user cannot save a full day’s Instagram Story like on Snapchat, they can still post slides from their story to their permanent Instagram feed. In addition, old content cannot be added to Instagram Stories unless it is re-imported or there is a screenshot (as opposed to Snapchat, which lets you share Memories with a time stamp). For photos, Instagram Stories does not have native selfie lens filters, 3D stickers, location filters and speed effects, but that might change in the near future. Instagram Stories also offers three different brush options while Snapchat currently offers one.
But Instagram Stories may be good enough to slow Snapchat’s growth, especially amongst existing Instagram users. Instagram Stories appear at the top of the feed, so there’s no way to miss them. The core drawing and text overlay tools are there. And most importantly, you don’t have to build a new audience on a different app. Dozens of my friends are already playing with Instagram Stories, and a few have in fact stopped Snapchatting.
If Instagram Stories is a success, it may be able to defang its most dangerous adversary. Facebook’s previous attempts to clone Snapchat like Poke, Slingshot and Bolt all failed, largely because they tried to make an “even-better” version of Snapchat that could go toe-to-toe with it as a standalone app. Here, Facebook wised up and baked a good-enough version into an already popular app. Instead of trading on its core Stories format, Snapchat must instead compete with bonus features, authenticity and the strength of its early community. Instagram didn’t kill it with good-enough, but it may have hurt Snapchat’s ability to reproduce.