According to Jean-Luc Godard (not to be confused with Jean-Luc Picard, of Star Trek): “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
He is, of course, referring to art. And that all art is thievery. Nothing is original. We are all products of something or someone before us. The written word, for instance, is a product of what the author has consumed. Visual art is a reflection of what the artist is inspired by. Modern day music and those who create it is derivative of those that pioneered it. That’s the nature of influence: it’s a replication of what resonates with and inspires us.
Ergo: Instagram Stories. The latest feature addition to the visual social media platform that was rolled out this summer in a creative attempt to keep up with the Jones’, or rather, Snapchat. And while some may call it blatant poaching, to close observers and those who understand the nature of marketing, it was remains a smart move.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom won’t disagree with you if you’re of the opinion that their latest addition is a pseudo rip-off: “They deserve all the credit…[but] This isn‘t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”
Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. Instagram Stories is just the latest addition on the evolutionary scale of art.
So! Now that the dust has settled and we’re all a little less shell shocked as a collective internet tribe by the reveal of a feature that looked pretty similar to the platform that we all like to take filtered selfies with, we thought we’d break down how the two stack up.
We put both under a microscope, because we’re avid social media consumers (and because we can’t resist an opportunity to play around on our phones), to cross compare!
But first, let me take a selfie:
For the uninitiated (we’re looking at you Dads over 50, people who use ROTFLMAO more than 3 times in a text), ‘Stories’ are exactly as they sound. They’re visual content that tells a chronological story from your day. A combination of instant video, pictures, filters, text, and the never overrated, always acceptable, emoji to share your brand in a fun and interesting way. And while it may seem like they’re exactly the same thing, they’re actually quite different.
Snapchat is a fun way to post your day-to-day activities while also looking like a puppy or hippie child. It’s social media gold, surpassing Instagram and Tumblr as the fastest-growing social app, according to Global Web Index. It’s the spontaneous (and, albeit, sometimes scandalous) messaging app, a place where you can say/do whatever you wanted without fear that it would leave a permanent mark on your record or gather sighs and judge-y eyes from your internet friends and elementary school teacher.
Instagram, ever polished and littered with food photos, has transformed itself into a content butterfly. Materialistically, Instagram lacks the fun, cheeky filters that Snapchat is so renowned for. But where it lacks in face swapping and voice changers, it makes up for in professional photos with a slew of filters, an archive of hashtags to link your content to, and now, through the Stories roll out, sleek text through colourful pens and brush options to transform your videos and images.
Instagram Stories, more or less identical to Snapchat’s, is an amazing tool for brands to amplify their content. While Snapchat is fun and engaging, it can be a more difficult place for brands to plant their feet – with no immediate links or ties to their other social media platforms, the ephemeral platform feels isolated with its entirely new framework and a feed that is often difficult to navigate. Snapchat’s one-way flow of their Stories also makes it more complicated to view Stories again, unlike Instagram, where you can toggle back and forth to consume content.
Compare that to Instagram, with an easy to use feed, ease of ability to find and locate people, not to mention that a brand has an already established audience that the Stories feature is able to reach. Instagram Stories also allows you to emulate a less curated version of your brand’s aesthetic and personality, such as tours of your office, the ice cream you ate for breakfast, or a behind the scenes peak at a day in the life. You’re building an identifiable voice while also portraying the personality behind it, showing depth and sincerity.
Instagram is also a magnificent tool to consume content. Most of us, when we open up Instagram, it’s because we want to engage and absorb visuals, not create. Whereas Snapchat prioritizes content creation over consumption, landing you on your camera screen as soon as you open your app, placing discovery and content consumption second. Which isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re creating branded content for your audience, you want your viewers to actually view and consume.
Which is good news for your brand when it comes to creating your stories. Your audience already follows you on Instagram, so they’ll already be privy to the additional stories you’re throwing their way.
Measuring your content consumption is also easier on Instagram. In Snapchat, you have a Snapscore, a number that lives on your profile page, which can be difficult for the less tech savvy to find, and is sum total of all Snaps sent and received, calculated by a complex algorithm to validate your created content.
Instagram, on the other hand, measures your content through clear, public tallies. Your number of posts, number of users following you, numbers of user’s you follower, number of likes per post – Instagram breaks it down for you with its open viewer counter that is in one place, rather than Snapchat, who makes you kind of dig for it.
This is ideal if you want to measure the success of your content and engagement for your brand.
The bottom line is that Snapchat started something. It laid the foundation for a new kind of social media consumption and user behaviour, literally re-inventing a method and means to engage and connect, even creating a new vernacular for the digital age (‘did you see my story from last night? Check out this ‘snap’ I got from My Mom). It’s commonplace behaviour that Instagram took, turned on its head, made a few minor tweaks, and called it something different. Except not really: both features have the same name.
While Snapchat is by far and large where the cool kids hang out, Instagram continues to be the platform that has more users, audience engagement, and ultimate tool for brand amplification. The addition of Stories to their platform, albeit similar, proves to be the best method for emulating a brand’s personality.