On Tuesday, Instagram took their Stories platform to the next level by finally introducing a few long awaited features, including Face Filters, an eraser tool, a rewind function and clickable hashtags. All of these elements have been part of Snapchat for some time now (with the exception of the hashtags), so it was the next logical step for Stories.
While they’re still working on their geofilters and location based technology, this is a huge step towards being a complete competitor to Snapchat – even though Stories already is sitting pretty at 200 million daily active users compared to Snap’s 166 million total users.
Let’s take a brief look at the new features:
Face Filters: Instead of heading to Snapchat to look like a bunny and repost to Instagram Stories, you can now add those rabbit ears natively. There are eight filters to begin with, and there’s likely a ton more in the works. Currently there are no sponsored filters but it’s safe to say they’re well on the way.
Eraser Tool: Much like Snapchat’s eraser tool, you can now erase any doodling you do on an image or video. It doesn’t let you remove parts of an image like Snap’s tool, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Rewind: This one operates just like Snap’s rewind function, though Instagram hasn’t included the slow and fast forward options just yet. One step at a time, it seems.
Hashtags: Whenever you take a photo, shoot a video or snap a Boomerang and you add a # to your text overlay, it’ll automatically bring up a bar at the bottom of the screen with suggested hashtags. If you hit these hashtags, much like the user tagging feature, it’ll take you to a screen of permanent Instagram posts which also use that particular hashtag. This will likely grow into something where you can search hashtagged Stories, which would be pretty cool.
So now that Instagram Stories has taken the next step towards domination of disappearing content, we figured it would be appropriate to do a quick review of each of the four Stories features to see exactly how they can be best utilized and leveraged for your brand.
Snapchat: At this point, a significant number of brands have all but abandoned the OG of disappearing content, whether it’s because of the difficulties involved in growing a native following, the fact that their user base is predominantly teens (which may be outside of your target market) or even because it’s just tough to use sometimes. While it’s likely a good idea to maintain a presence on Snapchat for your brand, if you’re not utilizing it to the fullest extent or promoting it via your other social networks, your chances of success are quite low. Granted, Snap are said to be working on their discovery features but they still have quite a ways to go before it’s at a point where brands feel comfortable and confident with the app again. We wouldn’t count them out just yet so hang onto your accounts and keep them active, but we’d suggest you weigh your options as to where to best invest your social energy.
Instagram Stories: Clearly Instagram hit on a winner when it straight up jacked Snapchat’s entire business model. Instagram is the primary visual social network so adding a disappearing content feature makes complete sense for users, and incorporating it as part of Direct Messages at the top of your news feed keeps it in sight and at the front of your mind. Unlike Snapchat, your brand is very likely already a heavy user of the platform and has amassed a solid following, which can automatically be tapped into via Stories. You can give your brand a personality without having to worry about discovery issues or having to rely on the personal networks of employees. And now that Stories has almost all of the same features as Snap does, there aren’t too many reasons to go anywhere else for your disappearing content. As of right now, Instagram is steadily in the lead and it’s most certainly worth investing heavily in your Stories content and strategy.
Facebook Messenger Day: Facebook have really been going hard at improving their Messenger app of late, and one of their most recent updates has been the inclusion of their own disappearing content feature. This was a bit of an unexpected move, as you don’t think of a messaging app first when you’re looking for a place to post some disappearing Stories – and many a hilarious meme even came out of this move. The first drawback, aside from the fact that it doesn’t seem entirely logical, is that you’re restricted to using it for a personal profile only, seeing as Facebook Messenger isn’t available for Business Pages. We’ve found the best way to utilize this is to leverage your personal contacts for your brand. This can also work for your employees if they’re comfortable using their personal pages for business, and it can often have a longer lasting effect when an individual is promoting a brand rather than a company itself. We’re not sure how successful or ubiquitous this one will become, but we’re keeping an eye on it.
Facebook Stories: Just like their Instagram feature, Facebook introduced their own Stories that looks and functions in exactly the same familiar way as their sister company. However, also just like Messenger Day, Facebook Stories hasn’t had a huge uptake, likely due to the fact that it too isn’t the first place you look for disappearing content. Facebook’s demographic is the broadest of all the social networks, so there’s a large portion of people older than 25 who just will never use Stories at all, and especially not on Facebook. And as with Day, the only way for a brand to leverage this platform is by using a personal account, so unless you’re comfortable posting about your business to your friends list, this might not be the most relevant platform for your company. Between Facebook Stories and Messenger Day, we feel that Stories has a larger chance of succeeding so keep it active and we’ll be monitoring how it grows.