“Great artists steal.” That’s a favorite Steve Jobs quote of mine. While the designers who created Instagram Stories may or may not be great artists, they definitely stole from Snapchat.
Not that I really mind. Here’s why…
Short-Lived Media Like Instagram Stories Keeps Us Real
When you know your post is only going to last 24 hours, you don’t care so much about how polished it is. And I think that’s a good thing. Raw, un-produced media is more like the way we interact with our friends in person. You don’t rehearse before asking your pal to join you for lunch. If you did, you’d be eating alone. The more we approach social media like we’re just talking from one human to another, the more authentic we our communication can become. Instagram Stories relieve us from the burden of trying to get things perfect, which makes social media more enjoyable.
You Can’t Worry About Metrics When There Aren’t Very Many
Sometimes the best features are when things are left off. Since you can’t Like an Instagram Story in the first place, you aren’t going to worry as much about how well a Story performs. As far as I can tell, all you can see are the number of views your story gets. No worrying about number of likes or responding to comments. This is like getting a credit card where you’re not allowed to see the bill or pay the balance. Update: I was just informed that some people think credit cards actually work this way. Whoops.
It’s Easier To Find Your Way Around
One of the things that bugs my about Snapchat’s Stories user interface is how hard it is to tell how many updates a user has posted. That little wheel in the corner of the screen just doesn’t do it to me. Instagram’s version, where bars are lined up on the top of the screen, feels like an improvement. And this is a small thing, but I love how you can move forwards and backwards between users in Instagram’s version.
That Highlighter Feature Is A Better Way To Do Text
If your text just doesn’t stand out agains the photo, the highlighter option makes your life way easier. Being able to make your text legible without having to use that black bar is just makes for better compositions.
OK, It’s Not Perfect
Instagram Stories are going to be pretty tough to use once they’re widely adopted. Scrolling across that bar along the top isn’t going to cut it.
The filters are kind of weak sauce. I mean, one of the reasons Instagram was so popular early on was because it’s filters let your lame photo of a cheeseburger look like it was slightly artistic and slightly less lame. Instagram should be a leader here, and it’s not.
Finally, Instagram has the chance to one-up Snapchat by letting people react to Instant Stories. Turning these from one-way updates to two-way conversations could be a lot of fun.
But I Still Love The Effort
Instagram Stories, along with Snapchat and Facebook Live, are the greatest changes ever to grace social media. Turning social media from a permanent record of events to a live, in-the-moment stream gets us acting like the real versions of ourselves – the version our friends see us as when they interact with us face-to-face.
Do you love or hate Instagram Stories? Let me know in the comments.
This post was originally published on Flag and Frontier, my marketing consulting business for B2B technology companies.