Instagram pulled the ol’ Melania Trump on us last week – they rolled out ‘Instagram Stories’.
This was a clear-cut copy of Snapchat stories. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said so himself.
Instagram’s motives were very clear: ‘Gram users use the platform sparingly because pictures had to be ‘perfect’ or very strategically planned. This leads to less daily usage.
Meanwhile, Snapchat boasts crazy high engagement numbers – more than 100 daily users view more than 10 billion (yes, BILLION) videos on the platform DAILY.
So, Instagram’s ‘idea’ was to drive more daily usage of its app by allowing people the same type of ‘stories’ set up. It’s a literal mirror of Snapchat’s stories.
Here are the key similarities:
- Both are called “Stories”
- Both allow clips up to 10 seconds in length
- Both make stories temporary by removing uploads after 24 hours
- Both allow you to select and watch your friends’ stories sequentially
- Both allow you to reply to stories with direct messages
- Both allow you to add custom text atop your images and video
- Both include filters (although Instagram has yet to add geo-filters)
- Both let you draw with a built-in marker
- Both include the option to save the media directly to your camera roll
- Both allow you to upload photos from your camera roll (although, Instagram only allows you to do so for photos that have been shot within the last 24 hours)
- Both display who views your story
Open and shut case, right? Instagram flat out ripped off Snapchat.
Now, here’s where the discussion takes place – Aren’t there laws to prevent this type of copycat from taking place? Can Snapchat sue Instagram? Does Instagram have no conscience?
Answers: No, No and HELL NO.
Yes, it seems lazy and bush-league that Instagram flat-out copied Snapchat stories.
As a person who creates lots of good content, it drives me up the wall when someone posts something I said but doesn’t give me credit.
Obviously, this in no way compares to these multi-billion-dollar social media companies going head to head, which might lead to huge swings in business and growth – but I’m just saying I get the idea.
Instagram clearly showed us that they had no shame in ripping off a good idea and implementing it into their own platform.
Snapchat (and its avid fans) can complain all they want, but nothing is going to change. Business is business.
Instagram is going to continue to develop this feature even more and make improvements based on what it thinks Snapchat is doing wrong.
That all being said, here is how the Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories saga applies to you:
Let’s analyze this simplistically: Snapchat had a very good idea that captured a large, new, active market. For the most part, it rested on this success and unique proposition until Instagram came in and flat-out copied their key strategy.
There have been few major changes to Snapchat’s model since it was introduced into the market in 2011.
How does this apply to you?
You may have experienced success in your field or career before. You may have done things that were unique and new at the time, and you may have even created a unique value proposition for yourself.
But a huge mistake a lot of people make when they reach success is they simply keep doing what got them to that level. They keep repeating the same strategies and stop growing.
Many of us who reach success feel content, so we continue to do what got us there. We don’t diversify, we stop taking risks and we plateau. This opens the door for someone to take us out.
Case in point – Blockbuster.
At one point, Blockbuster, the huge video retailer, was literally a brand-name embedded into households.
“Let’s make it a Blockbuster night.”
It was valued at $5 billion in 1996.
In 2010, they went bankrupt.
Netflix. Some other factors, too, yes, but mostly because they were driven out by superior, disruptive, forward thinking competition.
“Netflix & chill” literally drove Blockbuster out of business.
Guys – you might be Blockbuster right now.
You might be sitting pretty at the top of an organization or field or industry.
But nothing is stopping Netflix from looking at what you do, finding your weak points, copying your strategies, and doing better – so much better that you’re eventually yesterday’s news.
You absolutely cannot rest on your laurels because if you go bye-bye and your success is surpassed by someone better, guess what? No one cares.
Instagram copied Snapchat, yes. No ones cares.
Netflix drove Blockbuster out of business, yes. No one cares.
Someone in your company outshines you and takes your job, yes. No one cares.
The only things people care about are results. Performance. What have you done for me TODAY?
So, how can you prevent this from happening?
Be like Apple.
It had a small lighting charging port, not the 30-pin charging port that had been featured on all iPhones and iPods up to that point.
Many people (including my dumb self) said this was a horrible idea and people would never buy in to the new charger. Tons of the old chargers existed, so this was a really dumb idea that would keep people form buying the iPhone 5.
I was dead wrong.
Not only did people buy the iPhone 5, but they bought new iPads and new iPods – all of which use the new lighting charging port.
Apple did (and continues to do) what few companies are willing to risk – they cannibalized themselves.
They punched themselves in the gut first before anyone else could.
Apple out-innovated themselves before anyone else could even think about it.
That’s what YOU need to do.
Before someone else even comes close to you or the success you’ve built, cannibalize yourself, innovate yourself, re-invent yourself and stay ahead of the curve.
Celebrate your success, yes, but continue to innovate new ways to succeed at even higher levels.
Key takeaways here:
- Snapchat may have gotten sucker punched, yes, but now the ball is in their court to respond and do their best to keep their users and continue to grow their platform.
- Don’t be like Blockbuster. Be like Apple. Cannibalize yourself and innovate yourself before anyone else beats you to the punch. Be your own greatest threat.
Agree? Have other thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments below!