Snapchat Was Just Forced to Copycat Instagram

A story of impulse, habit, and the battle for your camera.

Instagram is putting the heat on Snapchat. And I love it.

I quit Snapchat stories a few months back. I was tired of all the sleazy featured stories that were always plastered all over that page, so I decided to jump ship and try Instagram stories instead. I, like many, had rolled my eyes when Instagram first copied Snapchat like this, but I was surprised to find that Instagram’s story tools have gotten good. Really good. Instagram has better captioning tools. They’re more flexible, more interesting, and allow for more creativity. They’re fun!

But more importantly, Instagram stories are better because you can post pictures or videos from your phone’s camera roll. This allows for even more creativity. I can post time-lapses or photos that I’ve edited in other apps. The stories I see from my church and local businesses are amazing. These people are putting a lot of time into creating incredible, professional looking stories.

Why doesn’t this happen on Snapchat? The answer is found in this app update that popped up in my feed about two weeks ago:

Snapchat used to have this weird white box around any post that you didn’t take directly with Snapchat’s camera. It was awkward. The idea was to force people to use the Snapchat camera.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When something cool happens in front of you, what do you do? More than likely, you pull out your phone. Then what? Do you launch the stock camera app, Snapchat, Instagram, or something else? I think many, many, people would answer that they open Snapchat.

Snapchat wants to be your camera app. They want everything you capture on your phone to go through Snapchat first. And they want you to share every moment – as long as you captured it in their app.

I’m sure Instagram wants this too – but they’ve decided to take a different approach. Instagram has decided to let you post whatever you want to your story, whenever you want. Instagram is aiming for quality over quantity. Maximum engagement looks like this: Take lots of pictures, caption them quickly, and post them to your story. Curation is different: Take lots of pictures (using your full-quality stock camera app), and then post the best on your story.

There is no way I’m going to document my entire life using both Snapchat and Instagram. That’s why this battle is important. And Snapchat was just forced to give up some ground. Instagram copied Snapchat, that much is for sure. But I honestly think Instagram is doing the majority of the innovating in this space now. I guess copycatting can go both ways.

4 thoughts on “Snapchat Was Just Forced to Copycat Instagram

  1. I find taking pictures on my phone to be distracting, mostly in a social environment. Also, taking pictures of food is super rare for me! Those are the reasons why Instagram and Snapchat aren’t my cup of tea. Twitter is more up my alley, but that’s another subject.

    I agree with that Snapchat wants you to take as many pictures as possible. I’ve seen a bit of Snapchat posts on my Facebook feed, people taking photos of their food at restaurants, and my sister literally taking selfies in the car every minute. (Speaking of which, I guess taking food images would be good if I’m using them to design the company’s menus. Not only would I make lots, but I’d enjoy the process!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m torn on this one, because I enjoy documenting what I’m doing with friends on Instagram/Snapchat, but it is very distracting. I try to walk that fine line between enjoying being social online and not being antisocial in person!

      It’s fascinating to me to think about the psychology behind why I do what I do, but it’s even more interesting to look at all my friends and the world at large. Smartphones have radically changed the way we think and interact, and they’re not done changing that. The next few years will be interesting as battles for our attention are won and lost. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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