If you’ve been using Instagram for a while now, you know how it works – post photos, they appear in a timeline, only recently that timeline has been upset by a new world order and an algorithm which changes what you see and when. But today, Instagram made its most important move – an App update which introduces an all-new feature – “stories”

Now, long time Snapchat users might disagree with me, but what Instagram did today was kill Snapchat’s growth curve.  Over recent days, weeks and months more and more people have been joining Snapchat, learning that sharing quick fun stuff that doesn’t have to last forever can be good.

So what does Instagram do?  Copy’s the very features that make Snapchat so fun and useful. And yes, I said copy.


Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch in an interview “They deserve all the credit” when it was suggested to him that “Snapchat pioneered a lot of this format.”

What is it they say? “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Seems so!

What is it?

Stories are images and videos delivered in chronological order to show a “story” – could be of an event, a moment or two, or your whole day.

But they disappear after 24 hours.  If you try to find something you added to a story two days ago – it’s gone.

Taking Snapchat’s lead, a Story can contain still images or video, and after you shoot your image or video they can be drawn on, text added and no doubt in time stickers and emoji’s too.

How does it work?

After you update Instagram, you’ll notice a group of circle profiles at the top of your “feed”.  These are people’s stories.  Tap on any one of them and the oldest “image” from their story will appear.


Tap the screen to progress to the next image, then the next and the next.  Once one person’s story is complete, you’ll be taken to the next person and then the next.

In a cool user interface design, you can swipe right or left to progress directly to the next person’s story.  I’m sure there’s a way to do that in Snapchat, but I’ve never found it.


Again, just like Snapchat, you can swipe up from the bottom to bring up a keyboard to send a message to that user.

These messages appear in the “Instagram Inbox” that small little in-tray top right of your Instagram screen that you’ve probably never seen before:)


New “Stories” will appear at the top of your Instagram feed – the newest on the left next to your story.

You add an image or video to your story by pressing the circle with a plus top left, or by swiping the whole home screen to the right.

Why is it better than Snapchat?

Well the user interface is very well thought you – the progression through stories is better and has better indicators.

When a story has five images or videos, five grey bars appear top of screen.  You can see how far through the story you are much easier than Snapchat’s little clock interface.


As mentioned earlier, swiping through a story to progress to the next user instead of frame is excellent.

Most importantly, it’s not another app.

I’ve been loving Snapchat, but with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also to deal with, it’s just one app too many apps.  So, Instagram holds the attention advantage for a large part of the social population.


There’s one cool feature worth exploring too – customisation.  In “Story Settings” you can exclude people from seeing your story, and also choose who can chat with you.  Well worth checking out


Metrics and Analytics

Just as Snapchat will show you the number of people who view your snaps, Instagram is showing story views too – this is a wider part of the overall analytic approach which Instagram has taken to introduce timeline analytics for business accounts to add value for those users.


Why would Snapchat not be worried?

Snapchat’s youngest users aren’t going anywhere.  They’re using Snapchat for “chat” and Instagram is a million miles behind on “chat”, plus, Instagram risks polarising their audience with this new feature, combined with the timeline changes of late.

Time will tell!