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Instagram's rip-off of Snapchat with their Stories update is quite a job well done. Facebook appears to finally be able to combat the Snapchat threat after many tries. The UI is both smoothly integrated and familiar enough (partially because it's similar to Snapchat) so that it has a low learning curve for users.

Everything changes now for businesses. If Instagram is a magazine and Snapchat is glimpses of reality TV, businesses just got forced to figure out how to do reality TV for their magazine audience. Here are a few thoughts:

Businesses now must manage two feeds on one platform.

This second Stories feed needs to be considered in addition to the traditional one. Because Story updates are at the top of the feed, user attention goes there first, meaning businesses need to be there as much as possible.

As everyone adapts to Stories, expectations of businesses to maintain both channels will increase. Not doing so puts a business at risk of losing followers' attention to a competitor that does.

Japanese companies in particular will be challenged. Many prefer a non-responsive approach on social networks and rely on an outside party for community management (most of which don't have experience with the similar Snapchat).

Users' new behaviors and algorithm changes will dictate strategy.

After users become accustomed to Instagram Stories, will their attention lean to Stories or the traditional feed when using Instagram? Because of potential shifts, the value of traditional posts versus Story posts will change.

When users post to Stories, a colored ring appears around their profile picture. How this affects users' psyche will be interesting. The presence of a colored ring may encourage visitors to engage longer with that account. 

And finally, the algorithm. While Stories appears chronologically at the moment, it will likely be incorporated into the algorithm eventually. This could affect how businesses' posts get seen, and quite possibly end up being a pay-to-play system like Facebook's.

My profile, showing that I've recently posted to Stories. The colored ring is inviting an engagement and places my profile right at the top of every follower's feed.

My profile, showing that I've recently posted to Stories. The colored ring is inviting an engagement and places my profile right at the top of every follower's feed.

Instagram vs Snapchat. Only time will tell.

Instagram immediately gives most users and businesses a further potential reach than Snapchat, which is a big advantage. Instagram Stories, due to the nature of the platform and ability to upload content created outside the app in the same manner, will likely end up a lot more curated and less "in the moment" than Snapchat's. It's already a highly curated experience (possibly the most out of any major social network) and the network is a lot more open, meaning random eyes may come across it and most want to put their best foot forward.

My post to Instagram Stories was created outside of the Instagram app, and was used to supplement (or tell the story) of my last post.

But because of that, some users may continue to prefer the closed walls system of Snapchat. That sense of privacy is one that helped make Snapchat popular with the young in the first place because it acknowledged the desire for teens to want to shut parents, teachers and any other unwanted prying eyes out of their personal lives. While businesses may naturally prefer Instagram, where users end up spending their time is what matters and that remains unknown.

Whatever the outcome, the road for businesses has been set. More and more people have been preferring content that disappears because it's viewed as more honest and intimate. The importance of addressing that by creating more authentic video content in near real time just got pushed onto every single business with an Instagram account.

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If your business or social media agency has no experience with Snapchat, you may want to find someone who does because Instagram Stories is similar. To learn more about Snapchat, check out some of our blogs below:


via TAM
We help businesses bridge to and from Japan via social.

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