By @TheMarkDalton

Yesterday Instagram unveiled its latest new feature – Instagram stories. Instagram stories live at the top of your newsfeed and allows you to pop into a stream of photos that expire after 24 hours. The photos and videos you post in stories won’t show up in your regular feed so you don’t have to fear spamming your followers by posting too much. 

The Good

It is a smart move for Instagram, an app which is gaining ground but still looking to reach more users. Instagram has become known for the perfect photos and what stories does is add an element which is rough round the edges, raw and in the moment without cluttering the main user feed.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and it is no secret that Facebook was aggressive in their approach when trying to get their hands on Snapchat. Facebook has tried launching competitors such as Slingshot, however this is without doubt the biggest competition Snapchat will have faced yet.

If you have used Snapchat stories before then this will be a familiar experience to you. It is basically the exact same concept. Here is the thing though, Instagram has actually made it easier to use than Snapchat. Snapchat has always be confusing to new users and adults frequently complain about how they don’t understand it at all which has allowed millennials to enjoy it free from parents.

Instagram has taken the confusion and made it easy to understand in their own way through simplicity. The stories mode on Instagram appears to be more well rounded thought out in comparison to Snapchat. There are clearly labelled buttons instead of swipes and there are subtle hints throughout the interface on how to use stories.

Instead of swiping up on a Snapchat photo to send a quick reply, Instagram has a basic ‘send message’ button on the story you are looking at. It is a simple change but it just makes things so much more transparent. Something people want in the current digital age.

The design of stories is slick, clean and looks more aesthetically pleasing compared to Snapchat. The fancy drawing tools and the ability to add text is there. With Instagram’s current standing in the social world – it has a huge network of people already using the app and has a sense of community already established. People are much easier to find on Instagram, something which Snapchat has struggled with.

It is a strong first step, one which Instagram maybe needed to make and one which Snapchat should be paying attention to. Personally, I am excited to see how they evolve Instagram stories next.

The Bad

It is early days for Instagram stories but the bottom line right now is that despite the fact it is aesthetically pleasing and looks really slick – right now it is like a poor mans version of Snapchat stories. When you compare the stories features side by side you really see a lot of areas where Instagram is lacking.

There is no massive range of stickers, no geo-filters, no geo-stickers, no bitmoji. There is a lot of neat little features missing and when you add them all together you realise that Snapchat stories right now simply offers more than Instagram.

If Instagram is to close the gap then they need to consider how they can evolve their own stories product. They don’t necessarily need to add geo-filters in the same way Snapchat has them but they need to figure out how to evolve it. A big advantage which Snapchat has had is their ability to shoot out new features and functions on the fly to their users.

Instagram stories is not necessarily bad, it just needs a lot of work!

The Ugly

Its time to address the elephant in the room. Instagram basically ripped the idea straight from Snapchat. There is no way to argue that, what we are looking at is basically a copy of the stories feature which Snapchat has been using to gain a massive base of daily users.

When Instagram revealed stories yesterday the internet was not happy.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said the following after Instagram stories was launched:

“This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

Snapchat and Facebook have been on a collision course for some time now. Snapchat has been breaking records and hitting high success. Now Instagram has stepped into the game so the next question is…

Who Will Win The War?

If Instagram nails the stories feature and goes all in to improving it and building on what they have then they could have something big on their hands here. Something which could be a threat to Snapchat. Storytelling is the game at the moment, if publications, brands or businesses are not deploying storytelling in some form, particularly after the Instagram update then they are missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Instagram needs to grow their stories capabilities and I believe they will do so. There have been a number of articles today talking about how Instagram stories is better than Snapchat. I personally feel that it is too early to make such a claim however I do feel that Instagram has a more solid platform to grow on. It is easier to find people on Instagram, there is a large brand and influencer presence there already.

So the question now is, will Instagram users bother to post stories in abundance. Time will soon tell.

As for Snapchat, well they need to keep rolling out their super fast updates and new features, something they have been great at doing. However they also need to start working and connecting with influencers on Snapchat because with Instagram now hot on their heels it will be important for Snapchat to retain and grow talent on their own platform.

Instagram has some catching up to do yet, but what they have right now is feeling good so far.

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