I remember the glory days of Instagram Stories just like it was yesterday (well, it was only two months ago).
On August 2, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, began its rollout of Instagram Stories across the world. In a blog post, it said that the feature would let users “share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile”.
Instagram is where we share the polished version of our lives – cropped and filtered photos that show us having the best time, doing the best things, with the best people in the best places. It is very much a “my life is better than yours” platform.
Instagram Stories was designed to share more candid moments in our lives. The stories disappear within 24 hours, so they don’t affect the aesthetic of carefully curated Instagram feeds.
The feature was Facebook’s latest attempt to take down Snapchat – the instant picture and video messaging app that also deletes everything after 24 hours. Facebook has been at war with Snapchat, which has 150 million daily users, ever since it rejected a $3 billion acquisition offer from the social media behemoth.
Previously, Facebook tried to beat Snapchat with standalone apps including Poke, Slingshot and Instagram Bolt. None of them worked. This time around, Facebook introduced Snapchat-like features into a pre-existing app that is very popular. Instagram has 500 million monthly active users, 300 million daily active users and 250 million users on its direct messaging feature.
It should have worked. When it first launched in Ireland, popular Snapchatters bemoaned having to choose between the apps. Many declared that they would favour Instagram Stories as their followings on Instagram were bigger than their followings on Snapchat. But they spoke too quickly.
Two months later and a tumbleweed wouldn’t go astray on Instagram Stories. Out of the influencers I follow, most might put a single post on Instagram Stories during any given day but they continue to share the majority of their daily goings-on with Snapchat.
So why has Instagram Stories apparently tanked?
I have a few theories. It is quite glitchy. Stories take longer to load than on Snapchat, and breaks in between seem to take an eternity (admittedly I am a millennial so a few seconds can seem like forever to me when that little wheel is spinning). Plus Instagram Stories does not offer the same filters that Snapchat does, which can change your face into that of a dog, cause you to vomit rainbows, or act as an instant photoshop when you’re not looking your best.
Mainly though, copycat features tend to fail, so it is no surprise that Instagram Stories has not destroyed Snapchat. Official stats on Instagram Stories are yet to be released but Facebook introduced another new feature designed to target the Snapchat audience last week, suggesting the stories feature has not been a success.
In Poland on September 30, people were able to share illustrated filter-enhanced photos and videos that disappeared in 24 hours on Facebook’s Messenger app. Ring any bells?
Facebook tends to test new features in small markets, rather than mass rollouts, so this format in Messenger could be winging its way to a phone near you shortly. But given Facebook’s poor imitation history, I imagine Snapchat isn’t exactly worried about this one either. Some innovation at the world’s biggest social network wouldn’t go astray…