The Controversy

Instagram’s unveiling of its “Story” feature caused some waves in the social media realm. Critics of the feature say Instagram is attempting to take over Snapchat’s specialty, a sentiment that was echoed by some Snapchat employees. Fans of the new tool believe that Instagram has improved upon Snapchat’s original story concept by making the feature more user-friendly. Snapchat and Instagram have a history, or rather, Instagram has a history of copying Snapchat. Mark Zuckerberg tried to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3 billion—by informing Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel that Facebook was releasing an app identical to Snapchat in a few days. That app was Poke. Never heard of it? That’s because it failed. Snapchat said “no thanks” to Zuckerberg’s offer. Later in 2013, Instagram (owned by Facebook) launched the direct photo messaging feature, which is a close copy of Snapchat’s photo sharing concept. Why is Instagram copying Snapchat? Are they really just trying to improve their platform, or is this a way to knock Snapchat out of the game? You can decide that for yourself, see the video below for an in-depth breakdown of the Instagram vs Snapchat saga.

How Instagram Stories Work

Instagram users can post a story one of two ways, either by swiping to the left anywhere on the feed or by tapping the small plus sign in the left corner of their feed screen. Once the story is live, the viewers are determined by your profile’s privacy settings. If your Instagram profile is public then anyone can view your story. On private profiles, the viewers are restricted to those who follow your account. There is a way to hide your story from specific users if you want to be more selective. Instagram also has a section of its Help Page dedicated to Stories.

How Instagram Stories are Different

It’s worth noting that while Instagram Stories are different than Instagram videos and photos, they’re essentially identical to Snapchat Stories. Instagram stories function differently than Instagram videos. Stories disappear 24 hours after they have been posted (which is also the main comparison point between Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories). Additionally, Instagram stories allow users to see who has viewed their video or picture. This is different than Instagram videos and photos, which only shows the number of likes and views, but not the specific users who viewed them.

So What?

In a world of constant updates, additions and platform restructuring, another social media change might be easy to overlook. However, it’s important not to do so. Regardless of the identical nature of Instagram and Snapchat stories, the Instagram’s new feature is likely to increase their appeal. An article by AdvertisingAge reports that the Instagram Story platform appeals more to brands because it allows for a more integrated strategy versus utilizing both Instagram and Snapchat platforms. Instagram is known for being brand-friendly and the addition of stories only made it more so. The story feature allows the sometimes faceless manager of the account to add a personal touch with their followers. The Instagram story is a new tool that can be utilized to strengthen brands and build connections.