Can Instagram's new 'Stories' feature take away Snapchat's marketing power?

Experts give their take on whether the new ‘Stories’ feature in Instagram which is similar to Snapchat’s own would pose a threat for the latter

e4m by Ronald Menezes
Updated: Aug 16, 2016 8:16 AM
Can Instagram's new 'Stories' feature take away Snapchat's marketing power?

Snapchat has been known for its self-destructive 24 hour photo stories and innovative filters, and a number of developers taking note of the increasing user base of Snapchat, have been making attempts to replicate it. A few weeks ago an app called ‘Snow’ was making news for copying Snapchat’s features to the tee. Now Instagram has pulled off the unexpected and launched the stories feature in its app.

 Instagram now looks to provide an entire package of services to its users through a single platform. It lately launched the ‘videos you might like’ section that showcases videos for users that they could probably connect to. However, the new stories section has taken users by surprise.

Facebook itself had been testing Snapchat’s self destructive features on its platform but little was it known that it would be passed on to its sister concern - Instagram.

Brands can look forward to Instagram’s new update in order to connect with its potential consumers. Along with Instagram, brands can now also stream videos and upload photos for its viewers and use the same content on both platforms. 

Experts from the social media and gaming industry give their opinion on whether they felt that the new stories feature would pose a threat to Snapchat’s popularity and would advertisers or brands now think and weigh their options before moving to Snapchat as a platform for advertising.

Will the new Instagram ‘Stories’ feature be a threat for Snapchat?

Gautamm Mehra, Business Head (Social Media) of iProspect Communicate2 said, “I think Snapchat will hold its ground and not feel the heat from Instagram. The filters and disappearing pictures have always been a part of Snapchat. My need for Instagram and Snapchat is quite different. People use Snapchat to connect and share posts with close friends and Instagram is a different platform all together.”

Mihir Karkare, Co-founder and VP at Social Wavelength was of the opinion that it could be a threat to Snapchat only because Instagram has a larger audience on its platform. “For example, when Twitter had the ‘follow’ feature on its platform, Facebook quickly took to it and applied it. What happened after that was only a result of Facebook having a larger audience and now a major part of the revenue for Facebook comes after benefiting from applying the feature on its platform. Facebook has grown phenomenally post that. The good thing about Snapchat is its continuous updates to its filters and if they continue to evolve like that, it will do well.”

Siddharth Hegde, MD and Founder, Ethinos Digital Marketing said, “I don’t know about a threat but current or existing Snapchat users will not move away from the app and will continue to stay. The real threat could possibly be from non Snapchat users who haven’t been on the platform but have been using Instagram for a long time. For example, a 30-year-old man may not use Snapchat but if he has been using Instagram and sees the new feature and likes it he may not want to move to Snapchat at all. Facebook has proved it in the past by introducing the hashtag feature on Facebook and that has been its philosophy. If something is working on a platform, they are ready to adopt it.”

Anila Andrade, Associate Vice-President, Operations, 99Games said, “At one point everything converges to one platform and that is what happened with Instagram. People are using a lot of platforms now but I don’t think that Instagram’s latest update to its app would be of any threat or create any pressure on Snapchat. The feature that Instagram has updated has always been Snapchat’s USP and no one can take that away from it.”

Will Snapchat lose out to Instagram in terms of brand marketing?

Brands may not prefer Snapchat over Instagram if the story continues to be the same, believes Mehra. “Snapchat may have to alter their strategies in order to bring more advertisers on board eventually. Instagram has Facebook’s database and that makes it easier for them to get access to a wider audience. Snapchat on the other hand is majorly focused on the youth and not for a larger audience which could affect its client base and that limits Snapchat’s strengths. However, I feel that brands will wait and watch how Snapchat changes its strategies in order to attract more advertisers,” he added.

According to Karkare, marketers don’t decide their strategies on the basis of features but on the reach and size of audience. Snapchat does not have a large user engagement base and brands that are marketing currently with Snapchat will not move away as they know the niche audience that they are dealing with and would keep it that way.

Hegde said, “It’s not easy for brands to work with Snapchat because you cannot have flexible spends, whereas on Instagram brands can keep their budgets as per required and it remains flexible. You can’t do the same content, however, on Instagram and Facebook and that is the challenge for brands here”

In Andrade’s view, “Innovations are always being made in the industry and there are many others who follow suit. Even in the case of Pokémon Go, it was an innovation and eventually many developers may have planned to make a similar game. That doesn’t mean that the original developer or innovation loses out. I feel advertisers will wait and watch as the story unfolds, but I feel that snapchat would still maintain what it currently has only because it has a certain appeal to a specific set of users and that is again its USP.”

While experts feel that brands will wait for a while before making decisions what remains to be seen is how Snapchat would react to the entire episode and how quickly it could bounce back with an answer to Instagram’s open acceptance of newer and innovative ideas no matter where they come from.

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