Instagram Stories are the newest addition to Instagram and they’re exactly what you probably think they are. They allow users to add photos or short videos to their own temporary collection that exists for 24 hours. They can add doodles and text too, plus view everyone else’s creations by tapping through them. Yeah, it’s basically an exact clone of Snapchat stories.
One week in, almost no one I follow on Instagram is regularly using them. Sure enough, a solid 4 out of 5 times I open someone’s Instagram story, the person is telling friends to follow him on Snapchat.
So let’s take a look at why this utter failure of a product is an utter failure of a product, shall we?
Instagram Stories Solve a Problem Snapchat Already Solved
Instagram solved a problem for Facebook and Twitter users back in 2010. It created a simple place where people can post one beautiful photo at a time that they wanted to show off with a nice caption and filters to complement it. Instagram’s feed was a simple stream of all these photos and it wasn’t cluttered with other content like status updates, videos and links. It was solely a photography app.
Instagram Stories is doing the exact same thing Snapchat does, so no wonder no one cares to use it.
Then Snapchat came along as more and more people began sharing photos. Snapchat understood that not every photo is necessary to post and keep forever on social media. Some people just want to share photos to briefly document a moment in their day that’s not meaningful enough to keep.
Now, Instagram Stories is doing the exact same thing Snapchat does, so no wonder no one cares to use it. Everyone is already on Snapchat. Did Instagram really think that Snapchat users were suddenly going to migrate over when they’ve already built up an audience on Snapchat? Even if Instagram just wanted Stories to coexist, that doesn’t make sense either. People aren’t going to open Snapchat, add a photo to their story, then open Instagram and repeat the same process.
Snapchat Isn’t Instagram’s Competition
Snapchat and Instagram fulfill two different needs.
Facebook has traditionally failed to recognize its true competition and now that Facebook owns Instagram, it’s easy to see why Instagram is making that same mistake. Snapchat is not the same as Instagram; it’s not the competition.
The simplest way to figure that out is to examine the user base of both services and see users are signed up for both. Almost everyone I know that has Snapchat also has Instagram and vice versa. That means they fulfill two different needs and therefore aren’t in competition with each other. Easy as pie to figure out.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom boldly gave credit to Snapchat for the format in a TechCrunch interview. He said that his company wants to build upon it. Still, right now it’s a carbon copy. A clone doesn’t give people a reason to use Instagram more frequently, an innovative new solution does.
Stories Add More Complexity for Instagram Users
Instagram’s implementation of stories is just complicated and out of place. Stories are at the top in small horizontal thumbnails while the rest of Instagram as we know it fills the screen. It looks like Instagram is trying to squeeze two separate services into one app.
Instagram Stories is just another way a clear disconnect is shown between Instagram and its users.
Plus, now users have more decisions to make when they want to post a photo. Previously, if it was temporary, they went to Snapchat and if it was memorable they went to Instagram.
The new thought process after opening Instagram goes something like this. Should I post a photo or just add it to my Instagram story? Maybe I should do both. But wait, if I’m going to add it to my Instagram story, should I also add to my Snapchat story? Do I have to do all three? Maybe I’ll just post the photo to Instagram and to Snapchat and omit Instagram Stories.
Ridiculousness. Software additions should always make life easier and provide clear benefit to the end user. Instagram Stories does neither.
Instagram Stories is just another way a clear disconnect is shown between Instagram and its users. Much like Instagram changed its feed from reverse chronological to algorithmic to the dismay of its users, Stories are another feature solely for Instagram’s gain and very little for our benefit.