How Many Instant Video Messaging Platforms Do We Need?

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Last week, Instagram pulled the rug out from under Snapchat by releasing a new feature, Instagram Stories. The easiest way to sum up the new feature? It’s a nearly identical clone of Snapchat inside Instagram.

Now individuals and brands who have worked to build up their Instagram followers can tap into that well established audience for maximum views of their fun, authentic behind the scenes content, and general ephemera.

For consumers on Snapchat, most follow 30-50 friends max. On Instagram, it’s not uncommon to follow a few hundred. There is a huge difference between getting unedited, on-the-fly stories from 30 close friends and getting over 700. If you’re a completionist, seeing all these unwatched story bubbles at the top of your Instagram feed is likely to induce serious case of FOMO.

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What do Instagram stories mean for brands? Let’s make this really easy with a pro and con list.

  • Instagram Stories Pros: Exponentially higher view counts for posts than Snapchat. Most brands already have a sizable follower base on Instagram, so when brands post content in Instagram stories, it almost certainly guarantees that most of their followers will see it. Instagram Stories also seems to be a big hit with people who have been reluctant to get on Snapchat, but are daily Instagram users.
  • Instagram Stories Cons: The space is very crowded at the moment. With all the press coverage and social buzz about this new feature, it seems like brands and individuals alike are trying it out. This means brand stories may get lost in the mix, especially considering that the Stories are served up in an algorithmically determined feed; however, even the con has a bonus pro, the stories play seamlessly from one into another automatically. This means a brand message can be nestled in between stories from trusted friends and family and served to a captive audience.

Snapchat’s drawback has always been its mystique, which may be part of it’s appeal to the elusive generation known as the millennial. Snapchat began as a private message service. Your posts weren’t originally meant to be seen by more than one person. Snapchat didn’t always have the “My Story” feature. It was regularly thought of as a sexting app for teens, mostly due to the disappearing messages.

It’s always been difficult for consumers to follow brands and influencers on Snapchat. Snapchat was meant to be shared with one’s nearest and dearest—those whose contact info is already in your phone. With the later addition of ghost codes and usernames, it was a bit easier to find brands, but still not intuitive.

Now individuals and brands who have worked to build up their Instagram followers can tap into that well established audience for maximum views of their fun, authentic behind the scenes content, and general ephemera.

So who wins between Snapchat and Instagram? It’s a little early in the game to declare a winner. Considering the lightening speed that platforms are adding new features, who knows what’s next, but right at this moment, it looks like Facebook and Instagram may have won this round. That is, if you call unabashedly copying someone else’s platform down to the name Stories, “winning.” But that’s a debate best settled by dozens of think pieces on Medium.