Two Sides to a Story: Instagram Creates Culture of ‘Sampling’ Other Social Media Platforms


Spencer Wu
Staff Writer

A feature where people can post Stories on their feed headlines photo-sharing app Instagram’s newest update. The update’s similarity to Snapchat’s Story feature, where users share an image to all their followers for 24 hours, has many Instagram users confused about the route that Instagram is trying to take. Reports indicate that Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom plans on changing the app’s culture, abandoning the antiquated paradigm of a permanent portfolio to more of a temporary and ephemeral experience. When asked about the similarities to its social media rival Snapchat, Systrom candidly remarked that “they deserve all the credit.”

First off, major corporations rarely exhibit such honesty. Systrom provided a truthful and direct response, whereas most CEOs of social media platforms deny or sidestep allegations completely. This acknowledgment may be a harbinger for collaborations in the future instead of divisive competition. Teaming up will allow the greatest minds in tech to come up with even greater and more innovative ways to transform how users consume media.

Furthermore, Instagram took all of the best features from Snapchat and improved them tremendously, completely abandoning the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doctrine. The Story feature is much easier to use and has simpler, cleaner features than that of Snapchat. For example, it is simpler to skip, rewind and rewatch stories. Once a story is viewed it remains on the Instagram timeline, whereas Snapchat requires users to conduct scavenger hunts to locate their friend’s username. Improvements like these will garner more attention and users to Instagram’s Story feature, letting the consumer know that Instagram’s team is working on improving and innovating.

Now Instagram can be people’s one stop shop to see their friends’ interests and behind the scenes lives, rather than the “money shot” that people traditionally post on their feeds. According to certain studies, Instagram engagement reached a new low in February of 2016, witnessing a 45.95 percent decrease in follower growth between January and February.

While Instagram recently reached valleys it has never seen before, the Story feature will slowly but surely evolve Instagram culture. Instagram will change from a hybrid of the dolled up and the candid. If it does not, it will at least get people talking. Systrom is bobbing for a happy medium where he could appeal to all sorts of users and expand his target audience.

Another recent Instagram update similarly took features from other social media platforms – most namely its parent company, Facebook. Originally a chronologically-based timeline, Instagram changed its feed and utilized the “Facebook algorithm,” which essentially attempts to cater posts that may interest the user the most. It gathers information on what users view and click on the most and transforms the feed into a more personalized timeline. This customization tries to filter the unnecessary spam and junk on a news feed, and highlights how Instagram is learning and adapting to what the market has to offer.

Although it is unclear what this means for the future of the app, it is a clear indication that they are methodically and thoughtfully trying to expand their reach. It is refreshing to see major improvements on a stagnant app, even if they copied the idea from a rival company.