Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? How and why Instagram copied Snapchat

Photographs are snapshots of lasting memories, moments you treasure in an album to look back on for years to come, but 2016 turned that notion on its head in the form of Snapchat. It was the year of the disappearing photo, where memories could only be viewed for 10 seconds or stored for a maximum of 24 hours until they disappeared for good.

That’s a pretty niche concept don’t you think? And Snapchat completely owned this way of sharing photos until the beginning of August 2016 when Instagram announced its update ‘Instagram Stories’. Just like the Snapchat model, Instagram users now had a secondary feed for those short lived moments which could only be viewed for a maximum of 24 hours.

It wasn’t only the Snapchat Stories concept Instagram copied, fast forward to November 2016 when disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends were introduced in Instagram Direct as well as the addition of being able to doodle and add stickers to personalise your photographs.

Instagram, the place to go for dreamy images of avocado on toast or for some wanderlust wondering was hoping to entice a new audience who post in a more candid way. With the average number of posts per user having declined between 2013-2015, it’s clear to see why Instagram would want to shake things up a bit. Having become a place for ‘glam shots’ and aspirational images Instagram found that it wasn’t uncommon for users to only be posting a couple of times a week, with beautifully edited photographs taking centre stage.

So has it worked? Well, yes. The app has now grown to over 600 million users a month, 100 million more users than they had 6 months ago. The Instagram Stories update has given people a reason to check back in more regularly and the additional change to the chronological feed has made sure people only see what they want to see.

If you’re on Instagram why not check us out? Search @ShorthoseRussell or if you’re in need of some fantastic design-led Instagram accounts for inspiration, take a look at our faves.


Sophie Polak.

PR Account Manager