People only post the highlights of their life on Instagram, so today the app adds its own version of “Stories” to poach goofy, off-the-cuff, everyday content from Snapchat. It works exactly like Snapchat Stories, allowing you to post 24-hour ephemeral photo and video slideshows that disappear. But because Instagram Stories appear at the top of the old feed, your followers will inevitably see them without you needing to build a new audience in a different app.
Instagram Stories is rolling out globally for iOS and Android over the next few weeks.
You could call it Snapchat for adults, a way for brands to post more without overwhelming people’s feeds, an alternative to Instagram’s Like-driven success theater or a blatant ripoff.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wouldn’t disagree with you. When confronted about Instagram Stories being a clone of Snapchat Stories, he surprisingly admitted “They deserve all the credit,” but insisted “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”
How Instagram Stories works (déjà vu)
For a quick guide to how Instagram Stories works, check out our animated instruction manual.
It’s easiest to think of Instagram Stories in terms of what’s the same and what’s different from Snapchat Stories.
- The Stories format laces the last 24 hours of 10-second-max photos and videos you’ve shared into a slideshow you can tap to fast-forward through
- Everything you post disappears after 1 day
- You shoot full-screen in the app or upload things from the last 24 hours of your camera roll (recently added to Snapchat with Memories)
- You adorn your photos with drawings, text, emojis and swipeable color filters
- You can save your individual Story slides before or after posting them
- Your followers voluntarily tap in to pull your Story and view it, instead of it being pushed into a single feed
- People can swipe up to reply to your Stories, which are delivered through Instagram Direct private messages
- You can see who’s viewed your Story
- Instagram Stories appear in a row at the top of the main feed instead of on a separate screen like Snapchat, and are sorted by who you interact with most, not purely reverse chronological order like Snapchat
- Anyone you allow to follow you on Instagram can see your Instagram Stories, though you can also block people, as opposed to building a separate network on Snapchat
- You don’t have to be following someone to view their Instagram Stories, which can be viewed from their profile as long as they’re public
- You can swipe right or tap the Stories icon in the top left to open the Stories camera, as opposed to Snapchat defaulting to the camera
- You can hold the screen to pause a slideshow, or tap the left side to go back a slide, as opposed to Snapchat’s time-limited, constantly progressing Stories
- You can’t add old content to Instagram Stories unless you re-import or screenshot, while Snapchat lets you share old Memories with a white border and timestamp around them
- Instagram offers three brush types for drawing: standard, translucent highlighter and color-outlined neon, as opposed to Snapchat’s single brush
- Instagram offers custom color control for drawing with an easy picker, as well as pre-made palettes like earth-tones or grayscale, while Snapchat custom color control is much more clumsy
- Instagram currently lacks location filters, native selfie lens filters, stickers, 3D stickers and speed effects, but you can save content from third-party apps like Facebook-owned MSQRD and then share them
- You can’t see who screenshotted your Instagram Story, while Snapchat warns you
- You can’t save your whole day’s Story like on Snapchat, but you can post slides from your Story to the permanent Instagram feed.
Now Instagram is offering a different way to share with no Likes, no public comments and a lot less pressure.The bright-colored text and sloppy drawing may feel a bit out of place on Instagram at first, which is why Instagram was smart not to simply add the Stories creation tool to the main feed’s default uploader.