Facebook Introduces Instagram Stories, Targets Snapchat

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Instagram Stories brings a storyboard feature to the photo-sharing app for the first time, in what looks like an attempt to muscle in on Snapchat’s user base.

Users can now make use of the new feature on the Facebook-owned social network, and it looks similar to Snapchat’s Stories feature. Instagram Stories lets users create “slideshows” that disappear after 24 hours and are separate from their main feed.

Ephemeral Instagram Stories appear at top of home feed

Instagram lets you adorn your story with doodles, emoji and text, just like Snapchat. You can also see who is following your story.

The Stories bar is found at the top of your home feed, and Stories are ranked using an algorithm which places them in order of how close you are to the people involved. Close friends’ stories should appear at the top of the queue.

To navigate Instagram Stories, tap right to bring up the next photo or video. Tap left to rewind and bring back previous posts, or swipe left to skip to the next Story.

Similarly to Snapchat it is possible to see who is following your Story. Under Instagram’s default settings, anyone that follows you will be able to see your Story. However you can choose to hide your Story from specific users if you so desire.

Instagram hails “new format”

Should your profile be public, anyone who visits your feed will be able to see your current Story. One difference between the Instagram and Snapchat versions is that Instagram users can only add previously taken photos if they are from the past 24 hours, whereas Snapchat users can include old photos in their story thanks to a new feature called Memories.

While there may be minor differences, the overall concept is very similar. Instagram says that its Stories are just “a new format” that they have decided to try.

“Stories are a new format that’s just starting to see broad adoption, and we’re excited to bring them to Instagram and help evolve them,” said an Instagram spokesperson. “Over the years we’ve been really successful at bringing new formats to Instagram like video, messaging with Direct, and Boomerang.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on the Instagram update Tuesday. “This is the latest step in putting video at the center of all our services,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday. “People are already creating and sharing more video, so we’re going to make it even easier.”

Increased user engagement and more regular posts

This is the latest in a series of attempts by Facebook to emulate the success of Snapchat. The social media giant has brought out standalone apps, and also introduced new features to existing apps.

In addition to the ongoing battle with Snapchat, Instagram is betting that Stories will lead to increased engagement and encourage users to post more regularly. According to the company, every moment has a place on Instagram even if you don’t want them recorded on your main feed.

“Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too,” wrote the company.

The real test for the new feature will be the reaction from users. The redesign of the app and the introduction of an algorithmic feed were both met with protests from users, but the company must be hoping that Stories gets a better reception.

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