My favourite social network at the moment has changed again… last week the Facebook-owned photo sharing platform announced the Instagram Stories, a new feature that allows users to share all the moments of their day, not just the ones that turn out perfect enough to include on their profile feed.
My first thought, like many people who were very vocal about it on twitter, was why did they have to go and change it again?! The recent introduction of the new algorithm that means I can’t see photographs in chronological order still bugs me (read about that change here), and my mind definitely defaulted to “ugh” when I saw the announcement that they were adding stories. I mean, it’s a blatant copy of Snapchat, and while I’ve dabbled in that instant sharing platform, I have pretty much come to the conclusion it’s not for me. I assumed from all the whinging online that Instagram had completely turned its back on the pretty photo sharing I love and changed the whole app to something I wouldn’t like.
But rather than join in with the moaning about it, I decided the best way to see if I liked Instagram stories would be to try it out for a day or two. I don’t know, maybe Snapchat will start legal proceedings and it’ll have to be removed from the app, but in the mean time I guess we should have some fun with the battle between the two platforms. I’ve been playing since I updated my phone last week, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts after a few days.
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, especially about the similarities between the two Stories apps, this video from Casey Neistat describes it pretty well (and the behind the scenes vlog is pretty interesting too):
The first thing I noticed was that the whole Instagram Stories thing is an addition to Instagram, the essence of my favourite Social Media app is still the same. I still have my photos, my feed (I’m @Splodz if you fancy following me), my followers, and can happily waste endless minutes scrolling through people’s photographs, double tapping and commenting to my hearts’ content. Good. The thing I like about Instagram hasn’t changed.
And while the app has updated, you can quite easily ignore Instagram Stories if you choose. Your feed still shows as normal, so if you aren’t interested, the new part of this app shouldn’t intrude on your enjoyment. Yes, there’s a line of people’s avatars at the top, but just scroll a teeny bit and it’s like they’re not even there.
The next thing I noticed was that Instagram seems to be taking longer to update when I open it (load new photos and stories) than it did before the changes. I’ve found this on my home and work WIFI (work is super speedy) as well as on 3G and 4G. Hopefully this will sort itself out as it’s a little annoying. I had a look around and I’m not the only one saying that the update has caused a huge slowdown in Instagram load times. Are we asking too much of their servers while we all play about with the new features?
Using Instagram Stories is very simple. You click the + symbol at the top left of the app screen and you’re taking to open the stories part of the app, then either press the shutter button to take a photo, or press and hold for video. You know, just like Snapchat. You then review your creation, add text or draw on your shot, and add to your story to share. It doesn’t get added to your proper permanent Instagram profile, but just appears behind your profile picture – either at the top of your feed or on your profile page. After 24 hours your update disappears. Yes, again, just like Snapchat.
I have also discovered that, if you you pull down from the top of the screen when in the “add new story” bit (after you have pressed the +), you can choose to use any photo from your camera roll taken in the last 24 hours. So you can post to your story in retrospect if you don’t have any signal or are too busy to post at the exact second you take the image. Handy if you’re climbing hills in rural England for the day 🙂
I’m really enjoying watching other people’s stories. In the main, for me it’s a cool way to get to know the people behind the photographs I enjoy looking at without leaving the app. It would be good to see some behind the scenes of how some big instagrammers take their photos, for example, and that does seem to be the way some of the power users are going. Excellent. Other than that, most people seem to be posting quick videos (like me) saying “thought I may as well give this thing a try” – content style will develop over time. My own updates are getting about 30-40 views each and a handful of comments, which is all fine.
One thing I am struggling with is the sheer volume of content I now have to look at. I follow around 930 people, which is too many when there are photographs in my normal feed and loads of stories to watch. I suspect that it will be more difficult now to gain and keep followers, and more difficult to gain likes, because there is just too much content for people to consume. Have you started unfollowing people on Instagram to make it an easier place to manage? Have you stopped looking at people’s photos in favour of stories?
In the same way that Snapchat hasn’t found its way into my every day social media fun, I don’t expect I’ll remember to use Instagram Stories a whole lot, but that isn’t to say I don’t like it. I can see it would definitely be cool to feel more connected to the big power users, and do like the fact I don’t have to bother with a separate app to share non-polished prettiness to my followers. But it’s another thing to do and I’ve already had to stop weekly vlogs because I don’t have the time.
What do you think? Have you been playing? Already got over the initial hype and stopped looking at anyone’s stories already? Over the app completely and ready to delete your account? Or totally hooked and think it’s the best update ever? Let me know in the comments.
Whether you’re experimenting with Instagram Stories or not, if we’re not already connected on Instagram come over and say hi. I post photos (almost) every day, and really enjoy looking at what other people share over there. I’m @Splodz on there too.