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TikTok mimics Instagram with Stories trial

TikTok joins the Stories party, as Twitter bins its clone

The war between TikTok and Instagram just got bigger.

Pretty soon, we might be moving into full-on Marvel vs D.C. territory, just without the lycra.

We usually bring you news of Instagram trying to do something that either clones, mimics or competes with TikTok as Facebook and its platforms try to convince creators and their audience that its apps are the best place for them.

Now TikTok has fired back.

News of TikTok Stories began circulating early last week, with screenshots initially doing the rounds on Twitter.

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, via Twitter

"This was inevitable. ByteDance has been looking for ways to get into connecting friends for years. They're talented, they move fast, and they are nothing if not determined."

Although there was some scepticism as to whether the screenshots were legitimate since dummy mockups like this abound online.

However, TikTok subsequently moved to confirm the rumblings on Friday.

TikTok spokesperson, via the BBC

"We're always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience.

Currently, we're experimenting with ways to give creators additional formats to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community."

TikTok Stories will be positioned alongside videos, Duets, Stitch and Live and will not replace any of them.

We don't know how long the trial will run or what countries Stories is being exposed to. We do know that TikTok Stories, as they currently look, seem very similar to Stories on other platforms such as Facebook, Insta, Snapchat and Pinterest.

Users can create a Story via the camera button from a new navigation bar on the left of the screen. Stickers, sounds or effects can be added to Stories, while users can record videos or upload photos.

The news is interesting because it's the first time TikTok has allowed users to use stills and video, and it will enable the platform to make the most of creators' larger camera rolls.

Given how video can be a struggle for many marketers to scale, this naturally will help lower the bar to access.

Like traditional Stories, ones on TikTok disappear after 24 hours. Unlike Stories on other platforms, users can publicly comment on them – which mutual friends will be able to view.

Creators will be able to view how many people viewed a Story and whether or not you follow them.

Stories, Stories, everywhere…

Stories started life in social media back in 2013 on Snapchat.

Following Instagram's 2016 adoption, Stories have since branched out to nearly every social media and communication platform.

Even Google eventually branched out into the Stories game, although adoption lags.

Stories are quick, 10-15 second photo or video clips offering a different perspective into a person or business.

While feeds are carefully curated, social media stories tend to be more spontaneous

The fleeting, or ephemeral nature, of Stories, is perhaps the most defining feature. Helping drive the more casual feel of Stories and can also create an element of FOMO.

On most platforms, Stories last only 24 hours, although this is changing slightly. For example, Pinterest Idea Pins do not expire after 24 hours. Once created, they are largely evergreen.

Another place for ads to live

Stories could provide marketers and brands who don't post to TikTok often the chance to dip toes in the platform's waters using a format we're all familiar and comfortable with.

It can also offer companies the chance to interact with their audience in between video posts publicly.

As video posts tend to be more polished and edited, Stories provides a way for brands on TikTok to show more behind the scenes, off-the-cuff content that could appeal to a broader range of people.

The war for short-form video content generally boils down to revenue somewhere along the line, and this move gives TikTok another form of content to monetise through adverts.

Interestingly, this news comes hot on the heels of Twitter killing Fleets – its version of Stories.

Fleets first appeared in November 2020 and lasted less than a year before Twitter decided to can its experiment. It was shut down because nobody really used it, but the visual nature of TikTok will lend itself far better to Stories than Twitter ever could.

New ways to show off

As mentioned, TikTok Stories will give brands another chance to engage its audience.

It may lay more work at the door of in-house creatives, but the public nature of Stories will give marketers an excellent opportunity to connect with their audience in a new and fresh way.

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