Is Instagram Ripping off Snapchat?August 03, 2016
Instagram released the following update to their app yesterday morning:
Sounds familiar, no?
Needless to say, the Internet went wild yesterday at the announcement of Instagram Stories. It seemed nearly identical to Snapchat Stories, offering the ability to string images together in a slideshow, draw over your images, and keep them for just a 24-hour time slot. Instagram even copied the title “Stories.”
I know what my network had to say. You probably know what your network had to say. But what did the larger social conversation have to say?
The chatter kicked off with a bang shortly after Instagram’s announcement and calmed down later in the day. Despite Instagram being at the center of attention, the vast majority of the conversation took place on Twitter.
This was not too surprising since Twitter is the go-to place for real-time chatter and is especially popular among journalists, social media and community managers, and anyone else who’s deeply immersed in digital culture.
Twitter also serves as a neutral space here. While Facebook and Instagram are crossing their fingers hoping that their announcement was well received, Snapchat probably had some pretty strong feelings about the launch as well.
As of now, Snapchat has not released a statement, but I’d imagine this launch was pretty devastating to their team.
Did Instagram rip off Snapchat?
Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, credits Snapchat for the innovation, and explains that social networks borrow from each other all the time. They see something happening in the online community, and put their own spin on it.
But the Internet isn’t quite buying into the idea that this was an amicable move.
instagram running out the snapchat headquarters as they copy their entire setup pic.twitter.com/AQQDebCu3C
— The Black DaVinci (@meechonmars) August 2, 2016
— Common White Girl (@girlposts) August 2, 2016
I also have mixed feelings about Systrom’s comment, which makes it seem as though he’s brushing off the insult of his company’s move. Sure, Twitter and LinkedIn borrowed The Feed. But a feed is a feature, not the whole core of a platform.
Each platform additionally brings something unique to the table. LinkedIn, for example, cornered the professional market while optimizing a feed feature.
In all transparency, I don’t love the idea of Facebook having a monopoly on social media, and it looks like they’re trying their best to move in that direction. They’ve often been accused of stealing ideas: a couple month ago, they used Snapchat’s QR code innovation in their Messenger app. Facebook Live was based on Twitter’s Periscope (which, of course, they borrowed from Meerkat). On This Day is a scaled-down version of TimeHop, except you don’t get your history from multiple platforms. In fact, the entire concept of Facebook was allegedly stolen.
How did the Twitterverse feel about it?
After the announcement, the sentiment online trended negative at first, but slowly became more and more positive toward the end of the day. By the end of the day yesterday, there was only a 10% overall difference (toward the negative end).
Now, it’s even starting to trend positive, with positive sentiment starting to eke out a victory over the negative.
Many others still remained neutral over the news — perhaps waiting to see how things play out.
Gender, ethnicity, and age seemed to have little effect on whether people reacted positively or negatively to the news.
It’s actually rare to see almost every demographic so aligned across both sentiments.
Our emoji analysis further reflected how most people experienced a mix of positive and negative emotions. People were by turns amused, confused, and downright upset.
So why did sentiment start trending upward?
Frankly, it’s because people started using Instagram Stories and decided it was better than Snapchat. Instagram took a format that had been pioneered elsewhere, and optimized it with more advanced Filters and options for drawing.
What’s going to happen now?
“This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it,” Systrom said.
Right now, people are weighing his ideas against commonly held perceptions about what it means to steal. So far, it’s a pretty close match. Time will tell if Instagram is applauded or booed for seemingly perfecting someone else’s innovation.