Contrary to many of its users, I wasn’t immediately turned off by Instagram stealing a feature from Snapchat. The execution was better, the admission that it borrowed heavily from Snapchat was refreshing and the timing couldn’t have been better (right before the Olympics).
I’m actually disappointed it didn’t happen months earlier.
While Snapchat continues to innovate, we must remember that this is technology and new features aren’t new for long. Stories, released way back in 2013 was no longer new. Largely untouched by Snapchat, it was a feature that was too good to let sit idle for that long. It needed exactly what Instagram gave it — a new coat of paint, and a new audience to do the painting.
But, I’m still not going to use it.
Aside from some seriously annoying load time issues (the same issue that plague Snapchat’s version), Instagram’s version of the Stories feature has one major problem that I don’t have on Snapchat.
The problem with Stories on Instagram
Launched in 2010, the people I follow on Instagram are a mixture of friends, family and the occasional rando that uploads some really cool art. Unfortunately, these aren’t the same people I want to view stories from.
Snapchat, for the most part, solved that problem for me. I followed accounts like Casey Neistat, Justin Kan, and Gary Vaynerchuk — not my girlfriend, my aunt in St. Louis and that guy that posts some insane rock climbing photos. It’s smaller, more tailored to my interest, and decidedly lacking most of my friends from Facebook or Instagram — and that’s a good thing.
Having grown up as a photo-first platform, Instagram allowed me to curate the accounts I follow based on what worked on the platform — compelling images, the occasional video and a handful of friends and family. Now, the change in status quo leaves me following accounts that — while capable of producing compelling images — are posting insanely boring stories.
The people you enjoyed casual images from, it seems, aren’t necessarily the ones that can create a story that follows a strategic arc or offers anything compelling to users. Instead, we get Instagram on steroids. Users that have never seen Snapchat are now posting vacation photos en masse, adding the occasional video of their drive to work and posting it on the platform as if it were compelling viewing.
It’s essentially Twitter when people used it to tell us what they were actually doing.
It’s worse at scale
I’m a relative lightweight on the platform too. I only follow a couple hundred accounts; but as I open the app I see 53 stories, many with 20-plus images and videos per. I’m really not in a position to consume an extra thousand pieces of content a day, are you? And if I were, it’s really not the people that should be creating the content in the first place.
I can only imagine the conundrum faced by those following thousands of accounts.
I could change my behavior sure — and over time the move to a new format will necessitate this — but for now, users are left with the real problem of story overload without a real way to define what you’d actually like to see.
Instagram could fix this in a number of ways, such as a ranking system, a system for hiding Stories from certain people, or — possibly the best solution of them all — splitting Stories into its own app. We should ignore the last option though, that’s not happening.
For now, I’m left in a state of flux while I try to figure out a way to consume content I want to see while ignoring what I don’t.
And Instagram definitely isn’t making it easy.