You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Instagram Is Taking on Snapchat’s Stories, With Some Help From PewDiePie and Ciara

Watch out, Snapchat: Instagram is gunning for you.

The Facebook-owned photo sharing service announced a major update Tuesday that introduces a whole new way to share media through its app. New, anyway, to anyone who has never used Snapchat before.

Instagram’s Android and iOS apps will in the coming weeks get a new Instagram Stories section that allows users to share photos and video clips as part of their day’s story. Instagram stories display in full-screen portrait mode, can quickly be swiped through, and disappear after 24 hours.

These stories can selectively be shared with friends, but Instagram is also courting celebrities, and launching with quite a few to boot: Serena Williams, PewDiePie, Ciara, Kevin Hart,Calvin Harris, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, King Bach and Connor Franta are some of the better-known names to use Stories at launch.

Instagram’s head of product Kevin Weil told Variety during a recent interview that a key goal of the feature was to get Instagram users comfortable with letting go of their social media sharing inhibitions. “Instagram stories allows people to share more,” he said. Many users have this idea of their Instagram timeline as something very curated, he argued. A reflection of their photographic talent, or a place to only share the very highlights of their life. The best food they ate at fancy restaurants, the dreamiest sunsets, the most stylish outfits they have worn.

Instagram Stories is meant to be the place where everything else goes. The funny little clip that’s may be a bit shaky, the quick selfie that doesn’t have to look perfect. “People want more flexibility to share the moments between their highlights,” said Weil. The ephemeral nature of Stories makes it easier to share something without it becoming part of one’s permanent record, he explained. “You don’t have to worry about over-posting.”

Of course, ephemeral photo and video sharing is what Snapchat is built on, and Snapchat is also calling its collections of snaps Stories. Weil readily acknowledged similarities, but argued that this is where media sharing in general is going. “Stories is going to be a format that a lot of experiences are going to adopt over time,” he said.

Weil likened the format to the hashtag, which was pioneered by users on Twitter, and has since found its way to many other services, with Instagram being one of the first to officially adopt it. Giving it a different name and pretending that it was something else simply wouldn’t have made any sense, he argued.

To be fair, there are differences between Snapchat’s and Instagram’s implementation of stories. For one thing, Instagram is aiming to integrate the new format into its regular app, allowing anyone to comment on moments within a story via the service’s messaging feature Instagram Direct. Users can also decide to elevate any of the photos they took for their story and make it part of their regular Instagram timeline.

Still, the launch seems like a clear shot at Snapchat, and it may not be a coincidence that it is being rolled out under Weil’s helm. Instagram’s new product lead joined the company early this year after seven years at Twitter, where he most recently worked as SVP of product.

At Twitter, Weil got to see first-hand what happens when a product isn’t evolving fast enough. Coming out of nowhere, Snapchat managed to surpass Twitter’s number of daily active users this spring. Instagram is still far ahead of Snapchat, attracting 300 million daily actives as opposed to the 10o million plus that flock to Snapchat every day — and Instagram seems intent to make sure it stays on top.

More Digital

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

  • YouTube logo

    Why Splitting Up YouTube Is a Terrible Idea

    Facing mounting pressure over failures to protect children from inappropriate content, Google is reportedly considering a number of changes to its video sharing site YouTube. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that one of the ideas circulated internally was to effectively split up YouTube, and spin out all children’s content into the existing YouTube Kids [...]

  • Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Game

    ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ to Launch This Week

    “Pokemon Go” maker Niantic is getting ready to launch its next big game: “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set to launch in June 21, the company revealed in a tweet this week. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information [...]

  • google podcast creator program

    Google, PRX Unveil Second Slate of Their Podcasts Creator Program (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roughly a year after first unveiling its podcasts creator program, Google is renewing its commitment to train budding podcasters. Together with public radio and podcast distributor PRX, Google has chosen 6 podcasters from around the world to participate in the next round of the creator program. The podcasts included in the second cohort are “37 [...]

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

    Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut. Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 [...]

  • China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact

    China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact With Malaysia's Astro

    Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading pay-TV operator, has struck a strategic agreement with Chinese streaming platform iQIYI. Astro obtains the exclusive rights to deliver iQIYI content on TV, on-demand and via OTT in Malaysia. It will launch the first iQIYI-branded channel comprising iQIYI’s extensive slate of original content from drama to variety shows and movies. Astro [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content