"If you can't beat them. Clone them!"
"If you can’t innovate, imitate."
Even taken with a pinch of salt, these represent a pretty accurate outline of Instagram's - the photo editing app - latest update for their smartphone app.
Smartphones have historically provided users with unique apps for unique tasks: want to be witty? Tweet; need to rant or wish someone happy birthday? Rant on Facebook; seen a nice sunset that everyone has already photographed? Upload it to Instagram.
But! Singular functionality is no longer good enough and Instagram is just the latest in an expanding line of apps increasing their primary functionality beyond the original brief. Facebook for example introduced a Whatsapp-style messaging system; Twitter & Snapchat introduced in-app messaging and earlier this month Instagram launched 'Stories'.
This in-app feature shares a similar (some would say exact) idea to Snapchat's Story's, and allows users to, "share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile". Backlash on some social media was expected and quick to judge.
But they haven't actually copied them have they? Well sort of. Well sort of yes. Well yes.
The Facebook-owned platform made the bold move in order to - according to Mike Isaac of the New York Times - directly compete with Snapchat after various failed attempts to purchase the company. Although this may appear at first glance to be an own-goal by Instagram, its larger user base and need for innovation makes this move actually pretty sensible.
The death of Snapchat?
As so subtly (but brilliantly!) pointed out above, Instagram's deliberate copying of Snapchat has in affect removed the need for users to have both apps. The 500 million users of Instagram verses the 150 million Snapchaters, indicate that Snapchat's unique user base and revenue streams could be under threat.
If advertisers and corporation begin to think that they have more chance of engaging with a larger audience on Instagram via Stories, then expect to see them flock in their droves.
Adam Padialla of Social Times certainly believes this to be the case, commenting that as users began moving towards Snapchat it made sense for the Facebook-Instagram axis to 'adapt-or-die' in terms of their users.
"Although Facebook had become an advertiser’s dream with its laser-targeted ad network, the cool kids were starting to migrate to Instagram. Hence the purchase; hence the update. If you can’t innovate, imitate!"
Adam Padialla, The Social Times
What does this mean for Digital Marketing?
In terms of Digital Marketing and the wider marketing & advertising community in general this move raises a number of cool opportunities.
The first being related to the demographic's of Instagram's users. Padialla notes that Instagram's users were on the whole, older. CMI's Joe Pulizzi agrees, with his blog actually titled "Instagram Launches Snapchat for Older People"!
The older user base - with more purchasing power - presents the opportunity for your company to appear in a new, more human light. Stories could be used to show the human side of your company via your employees! Daily in-office or behind-the-scenes stories would provide your customers with a friendly, softer side.
The instant (no pun intended) upload 24-hour limit on Stories means you could present offers and promote deals straight into your customers hands. This is perfect for e-Commerce sites that want to quickly increase traffic and interest around new products.
Essentially: 'Hey look this is cool' rather than 'Hey?! Hey?! Hey pay attention to me!'.
This developement by Instagram follows our Educate and Inform best practice rather than traditional marketing which looks to constantly interrupt the audience.
Using this method of communication will have a far higher chance of success as users will engage with your company without you having to constantly 'poking' them. You will also get instant metrics regarding engagement and can adjust strategies accordingly!
These are early days so who really knows where this little battle between Snapchat and Instagram will end up. Do we think this is the end of Snapchat? No unlikely. Snapchat enjoy's a slightly different demographic and its core functionality remains intact; the ability for users to send photos that last 10 seconds, not a lifetime.
The update on Instagram will present new opportunites to get messages, brands and content out there, and provides a great new platform for Digital Marketing. Both platforms will find new users organically and people will naturally use one more than the other.
The winner out of this is the average user. They have a cleaner interface of Instagram with the functionality and innovation of Snapchat all in one app.
So what do you think? Have you used Stories yet? Are you a company thinking of using it for you next campaign? Let us know below.