In a social, digital world, imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery. In the heated battle between Instagram and Snapchat, exacerbated by the similarity of the former’s product launches with the latter’s, Instagram is winning.
Introduced last August, Instagram Stories now boasts 200 million daily active users, more than Snapchat’s entire total daily active user base, and this year added nearly as many daily active users to Stories as Snapchat added to its whole platform in 2016.
Instagram Stories now let users “pin” stickers to an area of a video, which remains in place even if the object moves around in the frame, just as Snapchat launches its World Lenses geofilter, which lets you “add captions, color, and even Bitmoji to the world around you.”
Also announced by Instagram—and filching further from Snapchat—new geostickers designed for local landmarks in a handful of cities, including Chicago, London, Madrid, and Tokyo. Designed by locals, you can tap the sticker on the app to reveal the artist’s name. And, Instagram has also added new custom “selfie stickers” based on a user’s selfie snap (not quite Snapchat’s scissors tool, but very close).
Mashable notes, “This all comes amidst a bigger onslaught from Facebook that’s seen Snapchat clones pop up everywhere, from the News Feed and Messenger to WhatsApp and, obviously, Instagram. And, now that Instagram has passed a fresh milestone, it would seem there’s no end in sight.”
Instagram is also challenging Pinterest, enabling users to save posted photos and videos in a private collection, essentially bookmarking items for future use.
According to Leena Rao at Fortune, “Whether Instagram entirely copies Pinterest’s collections will depend on whether users can eventually share their saved collections. Judging from past history, it may only be a matter of time.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said copying Snapchat was merely laying the groundwork for his company’s new Camera Effects Platform. “The first chapter that made sense was to release products that people were familiar with . . . But the unique thing that we’re going to do is we’re not just going to build basic cameras, we’re going to build the first mainstream augmented reality platform.”
On accusations of imitating rather than innovating, Zuckerberg is quoted saying, “I guess I’m not that worried about that. I mean, I feel like we do different kinds of work in different areas. I mean, I think certainly, no one who looks at the solar-powered planes that we’re building or the satellites that were making, and thinks that that stuff isn’t interesting.”
But the deepest pain Instagram is causing Snapchat is an exodus of advertisers who are choosing the former over the latter.
“Many of our clients are deprioritizing Snapchat,” said Tom Buontempo, president at Attention, KBS’s social media arm whose clients include BMW, Carvel, Novartis and Spotify: “It’s no secret that Instagram has Snapchat in the crosshairs.”
Mike Dossett, Associate Director of Digital Strategy at RPA, Honda’s agency, added, “From buying and optimization to measurement and reporting, Instagram ads (including Stories) are embedded directly within the Facebook ads ecosystem that buyers know and understand. That undoubtedly removes a barrier for advertisers with entrenched processes or less nimble buying protocols.”
On the other side of the equation, Instagram celebrities brought down a rebuke from the Federal Trade Commission upon Facebook, who sent letters to more than 90 “influencers and marketers” warning them about disclosing when social media posts are paid for by advertisers. FTC endorsement guidelines require social media users to disclose when a relationship exists with an advertiser, usually denoted by #ad or #sponsored. The FTC action follows petitions from advocacy organization Public Citizen about Instagram posts, specifically posts by celebrities including Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and Michael Phelps.
It’s a first for the FTC, also advising social media influencers “to make disclosures on Instagram conspicuous—above the “more” button, and not buried within hashtags.”