With new Stories feature, Instagram, ahem, borrows from Snapchat

If you can’t beat ’em, snap ’em.

Instagram is rolling out a new feature today called Stories that vanishes photos after 24 hours, just like Snapchat.

Posts in Stories won’t show up on the user’s profile grid or in feed, and will disappear after 24 hours, like they do on the rival photo sharing app. In addition to the new ephemeral feature, Instagram also allows user to make their posts more interesting with text and drawing tools.

“This is Instagram trying to replicate Snapchat,” said Jason Parks, president of digital marketing agency The Media Captain. “It is worth it for Instagram to attempt this to see whether or not they can capture this type of ‘story’ messaging. It will make Instagram users more likely to involve video stories, which is going to be the future of social.”

Users can tap on someone’s profile photo to see their story, and can tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person’s story. If they want to leave a comment, they can tap and send a private message to that person via Instagram Direct, but users cannot “Like” or publicly comment on posts in Stories.

The new text and drawing tools in Stories
The new text and drawing tools in Stories

If users set their account to private, their story is visible only to the followers.

“There’s definitely some risk of being a follower in a space getting more crowded by the day, but doing the math on Instagram daily users, there’s definitely a better-than-average chance this will succeed,” said Matt Paddock, gm of digital agency Grow. “Also, it’s an easier sell for brands who haven’t yet jumped into Snapchat but do have familiarity with Instagram as an ad platform.”

The announcement comes on the heels of  Instagram’s new algorithm, and will surface stories from people they follow in a bar at the top of their feed, in the order of “likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.”

The interface of Instagram Stories looks like Snapchat Stories.
The interface of Instagram Stories looks like Snapchat Stories.

Brands have yet to use this new feature, but the biggest brands are already very active on the platform and many were quick to push out video ads when the platform opened its API last year.

Instagram’s Stories feature does look like a copy of Snapchat Stories. The ephemeral messaging platform redesigned Discover and Live Stories with new tiles and subscriptions and opened its own API to advertisers last month.


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