There used to a time when famous tales of unmatched heroism and unshakable noble values created legends which found themselves entrenched in our inherent cultures. Whether the story was conveyed via pictures and engravings, or passed down orally from generation to generation, the STORYTELLING methodology has always determined the impact the story leaves behind. It is a fact that emotions are what can drive through that connection which is the desired result for all stories, after all we humans are a heavily emotional species and all metrics for communication account for this storytelling journey.
That being said, the storytelling experience has evolved tremendously since the days of traditional folk art and socio-cultural literary work. As a rapidly growing and evolutionarily advantaged species, constant connectivity among each other through varying channels of communication has always been an insatiable demand by the upwardly mobile masses culminating in the advent of the DIGITAL MOBILE AGE. We all know about social media and how it brought about a revolution in outbound and inbound communication, but in this article we plan to focus on the unique streams of content brought about by revolutionary storytelling platforms Snapchat and Instagram.
It is a well-known fact that Snapchat pioneered the concept of transcending text based content altogether and leveraging ‘Episodic Content’ to create a completely new track for updating your content feed. When we talk about episodic content, we’re talking about pictures and videos which would be shared by the user for their communities with a shelf life of only 24 hours. Beyond 24 hours you would no longer be able to view that content and your feed would get refreshed with ‘Newer’ content from the community you follow. This would indirectly encourage users to log on more often and keep up with their content feeds on Snapchat, lest they should miss it for all eternity after the 24 hour lapse period. In fact, Snapchat were so beholden to their approach of getting users to generate more content, ‘fresher’ content to keep their feeds active that up till mid 2016 users could not even save and view their own posts beyond the 24 hour self-termination limit. However this rule was amended by Snapchat in 2016 with the introduction of a native feature called ‘Snapchat Memories’ which allowed users to save their posts and post them in their storylines at a later date again.
Snapchat caught on, like the flu in a packed classroom, and was all the rage for a content hungry generation which quickly adopted this highly personalized and authentic stream of stories from a community they trust. But just because someone thought of and executed an idea well, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be the naturally selected leader in that particular field for all time to come. An idea can just as easily be replicated and implemented better that the originators of that particular concept. This is where Instagram threw its hat into the ring of ‘Episodic’ content and set course for a social media rivalry which would see cut-throat one-upmanship and unabashed recourse to taking something from your rival’s stable and just making it better. If Instagram’s market lead was being quickly eroded by the growing popularity of Snapchat, it was only because they were lacking the unique storytelling features afforded to users in the form of ‘time-bound’ content which was ‘Fresher’ in every way. How does one get rid of a problem like that? Though ‘Tireless Innovation’ and the power of the infamous ‘Ctrl + C maneuver’, the world was introduced to Instagram Stories, your very own Snapchat on Instagram.
Photo provided by – socialmediaexaminer.com
Not that it’s completely wrong to borrow an original concept and polish it to present a better and more wholesome end product to the consumer, but some happenings cause enough disruption in the market to create two sides of the divide which fight for and against the changing order. Instagram stories was Instagram’s ‘Hail Mary’ move to counter the declining interest in their platform and the migration of user activity to Snapchat. As far as we can tell, the risky move worked and Instagram has successfully manage to stem the attrition on users to a rival platform and use its already dominant position to rally the collective desire to streamline a multiverse of social media platforms to its own advantage. And just exactly what are these advantages that Instagram would have over rival Snapchat is pretty plain to see.
It’s easy to understand just why Instagram would have an edge over Snapchat once the former made the native changes to its content stream with ‘time-bound’ content pieces just like Snapchat. However this feature was an addition to Instagram’s features, not a complete overhaul of the existing structure of the content feed. This fact gave Instagram a distinct advantage in the avenues for communication whereby a user who had only one distinct feed to rely on, now had two separate feeds with different approaches to storytelling. The time bound nature of Instagram Stories helped it retain its authenticity with its followers and now gave them TWICE the motivation to go ahead and check their feed more often, just like Snapchat. But now that both Instagram and WhatsApp have embraced the world of ‘Episodic’ content, does not mean that Snapchat will be resigned to the depths of social media failures. They still retain a fiercely loyal fan following who give credence to the originality of the brand and retain their love for the ubiquitous Snapchat Filters which are updated on a regular basis giving another dimension to picture communication. And even on the brand’s side, the smart use of Geo-filters enable them to generate highly relatable content without causing a major disruption to our content feeds, all important milestones for any social media platform.
Overall, in our opinion we would give a slight edge to Instagram as a whole as compared to Snapchat primarily due to the ‘double feed feature’ which gives users more options, and the User is King!! But we can never rule out the pioneering spirit of Snapchat which is bound to find a way to innovate its way to the top of Social Media Pantheons.