What’s the Story, Instagram?
Introducing: Instagram Stories
Instagram released new functionality to all users last week – say hello to Instagram Stories. Each “Story” is a video and/or photos, optionally with sound and/or text overlay – hosted for just one day. Instagram describe it is “a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile.”. The moment our apps updated, the new feature was widely labelled as a carbon copy of Snapchat.
Instagram is the worldwide emporium of visual delights, where we are treated to lovingly filtered photos and carefully curated posts. Since the update, users do not share only the best “moments”, but “everything in between, too”.
We are not the only ones questioning the decision to add Snapchat features to Instagram – The Flash Pack commented last week on the “Imitation Game” and many others have made this opinion heard on the Instagram blog.
High volume, low quality?
I have not posted an Instagram Story yet – indeed, none of my team have done so. I know my colleagues to be early adopters, with typically shotgun-like response to all new social media features, functionality and apps, so this seems very unusual. Perhaps it is our Britishness which prevents us, but I neither feel the need to share the “in between” moments of my life, nor would I wish to occupy my followers time, with disposable thoughts and uncherished snapshots. Often a criticism of social media – particularly about Facebook – that oversharing and stream of consciousness can be boring at best, and at worst, a potential signal of imminent/current unemployment.
Cool Story, bro.
Meanwhile, my friends, influencers, style crushes, and fellow IGers from near and far, are posting Stories for me to enjoy. The up-close-and-personal, hot-off-the-press, glimpses “backstage” of the lives, offices and faces of a select few IGers, are occasionally interesting, but so far I have found Stories to bring very low quality visual content. I appreciate this new feature delivers vivid, honest and captivating invitations to engage fans, but when I want to hear throwaway thoughts, with text scrawled across images and video, I’d rather visit Snapchat.
Imitation without flattery.
Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but Snapchat should not feel so special. I wrote a blog in 2014 on this very subject titled: The Oligopolistic Nature of the Social Media Landscape. One of the main characteristics of an oligopolistic market, is when a provider makes a move, the others (of which there are only a few) follow quickly, to negate competitive advantage.
Top social media agency owner, strategist and thinker, Gary Vaynerchuk recently gave his two cents on the subject of Stories / Snapchat, and called it “borderline silly” that Snapchat has not yet introduced LIVE video (as in Facebook LIVE and Twitter’s Periscope) and assured it soon will. This trend of homogenisation of the major social networks has been a “thing” for some time – they start by hooking us in with a niche, then wish to “keep” us by offering “everything”.
If you can’t beat them, join them?
It would appear the Facebook world-domination strategy of “be everything to everyone”, is making its way over to Instagram. But does this update risk diluting the very essence of why we all fell in love with Instagram? Will it earn even more engagement from the already top performing social network? There is no functionality to “Like” a Story, so although it delivers the power of 1-2-1 interaction, it does not deliver the strength of social proof. How can the luxury sector adhere to the strict quality control of brand guidelines, yet invest time to produce content for such short-term exposure? Perhaps the more agile nature of SMEs, local businesses and independents, mean smaller brands have more opportunity to harness this new functionality – but do they have the time?
Are you using Instagram Stories? Have you spotted any brands using the new functionality well? Let me know over on Twitter @ladyofsocial
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