Some thoughts on Instagram Stories

An article by Joe Freeman 12-08-2016

Today, Instagram announced their newest feature, Instagram Stories. The blog’s got all the details, but in a nutshell, it’s a way to “ share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile” and the photos and/or videos disappear in 24 hours.

Sound familiar?

It’s Instagram’s next step in challenging Snapchat. Or at least keep people in their app rather than disappearing to Snapchat to share their off the cuff snaps and lol funtimes. Content is kept for longer within Instagram Stories (24 hours), but the premise is the same.

Rightly so, Snapchat is making waves. Or rather it’s made waves. Many users. Much millenials. Millions of snaps sent and viewed each day. I love it — and use it mostly to share snaps of my kids with my sister — but I rarely post much. I think that’s because I’m 34 and none of my friends use it. But they do use Instagram.

There’s much written about older people “not getting” Snapchat. It can be confusing and occasionally perceived to just be about certain types of images. Their latest update was probably done to be more logical to the older demographics (much to the annoyance of younger regular users they changed the discover stuff around) so they’ve recognised they need to expand their audience somehow.

And Instagram are now doing the same. Perhaps in reverse. They’ve got older users, and they see the value in this type of disposable content. The video on their blog features, arguably, older people. Certainly not the same age group you might expect in a promotional Snapchat film.

So, it’s Instagram’s next step in challenging Snapchat. It’s an obvious one — the private messaging might have been the first step — but where will Instagram go next?

Snapchat’s other super-popular feature is the lenses. You can vomit rainbows, be a dog, face-swap — you’ve seen them. Facebook bought Masquerade in March. Masquerade is a filters app that functions just like Snapchat lenses.

At the moment, Facebook’s not done a huge amount with it. But now their plan becomes much clearer. Masquerade functionality will come to Instagram Stories at some point soon. That’s what I’m betting on, anyway.

Joe with a beard

This is what I’d look like with a beard. Thanks MSQRD.

So when you think about Facebook’s attempted purchase of Snapchat for $3billion, it all makes sense. They saw the obvious value. But they couldn’t have it. So they’re making their own version.

I manage the social media for a national charity, and we’ve not (yet) adopted Snapchat, for various reasons. I don’t think I’ll jump on Instagram Stories any time soon (I’ve got other plans for it, for which I can see immediate benefits in using Stories) but if your charity does use Snapchat, Stories sounds like something you’ll be able to adapt to pretty quickly.

Immediately, using it for behind-the-scenes stuff around how your standard images and videos get produced and additional supporting content that goes into more depth are obvious ways charities can use Instagram Stories. But it’s also another channel for which you need to think about, plan and create content. So whilst it’s always nice to jump on new tech and opportunities quickly, I think Stories — like Snapchat — needs thought and planning.

I’m definitely excited to see how people start to use it and how the competition between Instagram and Snapchat hots up.

If you’re interested in how you can use Snapchat for your charity (and then also use the same considerations to think about Instagram Stories), Ross McCulloch of Be Good Be Social produced a great 30-page guide that might be worth downloading; Free Snapchat for Charities eBook — isn’t it just all nudes?


This article originally appeared on Medium: @JosephFreeman

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