As Snapchat prepares to go public, evidence shows that copycat tactics from Instagram are making a serious dent in user numbers.
Competitors aping each other’s best features, especially in app-land, is nothing new. Still, when Instagram rolled out ‘Stories’ last year, many were shocked at just how blatantly the feature copied Snapchat’s own ‘Stories’ feature—right down to the name.
At the time, Snapchat was arguably the hottest social media platform going, especially among the younger set—social marketers’ holy grail. In their sales pitch to advertisers, for example, Snapchat claims to reach 41% of all 18-34 years in the United States on any given day.
With the roll out of Instagram Stories, the question was whether the suspiciously familiar new feature would prove to be a desperate swing from a stagnating platform or a stroke of competitive genius.
Whatever you can do, I can do better
More and more, it’s looking like the latter. Since Instagram Stories launched last year, the decline in popularity of Snapchat’s original Stories’ feature has been significant. Reports have shown a serious reduction in view counts—varying figures range from a drop of 15% to estimates as high as a 40%. Overall Snapchat user growth, meanwhile, has declined 82%.
Alarmingly for Snapchat, Techcrunch reports that in the 25 weeks since Instagram launched their own version of Stories, the Instagram feature has attracted 150 million daily users. That’s as many daily users as Snapchat has across their whole app
With Instagram throwing its weight around, Snapchat faces a big challenge
For the past year, Snapchat has been aggressively pursuing advertisers. And it’s popularity—especially with the younger demographics—still makes it one of the hottest social media platforms around.
But, with other products increasingly co-opting their unique selling points (see Viber’s release of ‘secret messages’), time will tell whether they’ll have the staying power to compete long term with established behemoths.
By cloning one of Snapchat’s strongest features, Instagram has shown a ruthless willingness to leverage the sheer weight of their numbers to squeeze out the competition.
Time will tell if Snapchat can cope.
Copy Transmission is a Melbourne-based agency :: Better Brands. Loud & Clear.