Instagram Stories—Great for Brands, Bad for Snapchat

Instagram announced on its blog that it’s adding “Stories” as a new format that will be rolling out in the next few weeks. Sound familiar? That’s because the functionality is nearly identical to Snapchat’s “Stories.” The content disappears within 24 hours, allowing users to share unedited moments throughout the day without worrying about over posting. Plus, there are no likes or public comments on Stories, so users can relax, have fun and get creative with text and drawing tools. What does this savage play by Instagram mean for brands?

The Good:

  • Lower content expectations. Brands that may not have a steady stream of real-time content for Snapchat now have an easier way to test the “Stories” format without the expectation of keeping a separate account active.
  • Less investment. Brands don’t have to spend time and money growing their following on Snapchat if they can leverage their existing audience on Instagram. This helps level the playing field for smaller brands.

The Bad:

  • Not free for long. Instagram is owned by Facebook, which means it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a “pay to play” channel, while Snapchat still allows brands to earn high organic reach and doesn’t use an algorithm to filter users’ feeds.
  • No way to measure success. Instagram’s blog post doesn’t mention any measurement tools for brands. Sure, brands can tap the new tool, but how can they analyze and optimize their content? Brands need data in order to justify new investments.

The Ugly:

  • Uncool, Insta. Didn’t their mothers ever teach them not to steal other people’s ideas? As an innovative, leading brand in the social space, could Instagram really not put a unique spin on the functionality of Stories?

Only time will tell whether Instagram or Snapchat will win over users with Stories, but the format is here to stay because users want to share both their highlight reel as well as their everyday moments. They want the social recognition that comes from likes and the carefree fun of disappearing content. With that in mind, when testing Stories, brands should focus on transparency and creativity to appeal to this audience.

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