Instagram Have Just Overtaken Snapchat in a Major Way

I have a confession to make - last week I posted an Instagram Story for the first time. In fact, I posted three, and while, granted, I was using it for professional purposes, I still felt a bit dirty. Here was a feature that had been shamelessly lifted from Snapchat, and then copy/pasted across all of Facebook's platforms in a bare-faced attempt to pull traffic away from them and encroach on their territory. The thing is though, it worked.

Instagram Stories have been around for a year now, and in that time, the daily active user count has risen beyond 250 million. Most recently, Instagram have reported that users under 25 now spend an average of 32 minutes on the app every day, compared to 24 minutes for users ages 25 or older. Perhaps most impressively, 50% of all the businesses on Instagram have published at least one story this month.

Of all the iterations of Stories Facebook have trotted out, Instagram's is by far the most viable, even though they're all almost exactly the same. The key draw of Instagram Stories is brand and influencer engagement. More than Facebook or Snapchat, Instagram is a means for people to keep track of all their favourite bands, movie stars, TV shows and whatever else, and Stories has provided an ideal means to keep putting out content without overwhelming the feed.

Snapchat are able to provide that too, to some degree (DJ Khaled springs to mind), but they are currently contending with far bigger problems, far too many for them to effectively deal with Facebook's constant (and ever more efficient) copycat behaviour. When the news hit that Instagram had overtaken Snapchat's daily usage count, the share price dipped to $12.67, the lowest valuation yet.

As well as Stories, Instagram have had a lot of success with their clone of Snapchat's messaging services - Instagram Direct. In this case, they've overtaken Snapchat so significantly that Direct is now ranked as one of the most popular messaging services in the world. In particular, Direct has proven invaluable for brand engagement, as more and more users have been messaging brand and business pages privately.

The most significant step Instagram have taken in borrowing so heavily from Snapchat is establishing themselves as an app meant for frequent, even spontaneous posting. Before, Instagram posts were carefully constructed, and limited to one or two posts per pay. With Stories and the host of other features recently brought in, users have started posting serval times a day, as well as directly communicating with other users and generally treating the service like a more rounded, comprehensive experience. Snapchat aren't dead yet, but they've lost this ground, and they're unlikely to win it back.

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