Late last week, Instagram launched Instagram Direct and now the world wants to know how it compares to Snapchat.
Instagram Direct comes just a short while after Snapchat turned down Facebook’s almost surreal offer of $3 billion. Well, if Snapchat thought they were holding all the cards, it seems as though they never considered Facebook’s contingency plans.
Instagram, as we all know, is a mobile photo-sharing app. Originally, users could tag friends in captions and make their profiles private. This was the only way to privatize the public network. Now, with Instagram Direct, users have the ability to send pictures to a select group of friends that only they can see. Sound familiar?
Well, if it does, that’s because the premise is very similar to Snapchat’s model. The difference rests in the fact that Snapchat’s appeal is the disappearing nature of images sent. They will only stick around for at most ten seconds (or thirty, if you are using the Story function). However, Instagram offers a few things that Snapchat does not and vice versa.
When one looks at Instagram Direct, it is clear that the feature was designed to compete directly with Snapchat. Users can take pictures, select a group of friends with whom to share the images, reply to images shared and filter their friends lists with both services.
The popularity of visual content is no secret. (There is a reason why Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion and offered Snapchat $3 billion.) Offering users a way to communicate with pictures? Priceless. It makes sense that apps like Instagram and Snapchat are so popular. But it is the differences that will determine a winner in this battle for photo-conversing supremacy.
Snapchat images disappear. That is perhaps the biggest appeal of the app. You can feel safe knowing that any picture you take will disappear from viewers’ sight in at most ten seconds. With Instagram Direct, images will remain archived in a conversation. The benefit here is that Instagram Direct is designed for an actual, ongoing conversation to take place between a select group of friends either through comments of shared images. On Snapchat, images might be fun to share, but there is no way to like them, comment on them or maintain an ongoing conversation without simply sending a disappearing image back to the original sender.
As for editing, Snapchat allows users to post comments directly on an image and draw with their fingers. Instagram Direct allows for filters to be applied (as with traditional Instagram photos) and captions to be written. Once again, in terms of a conversation, Instagram opens up the possibility of conversing either through images or written responses. Snapchat, on the other hand, relies on a user responding with an image.
Snapchat is still ad-free and that makes people happy. Instagram has started sharing ads, and that makes people sad. (Or mad, if you have had a chance to read some of the comments.) But the reality of the situation is that these apps are businesses. Billion-dollar businesses need revenues. Ads generate revenues. Apps need ads. Snapchat had the option of remaining ad-free (for now) and integrating with Facebook as a free feature of the network. They chose to decline the acquisition request and are now left to figure out how revenues will be generated. Instagram will presumably make its money from ads on the public feeds, and Instagram Direct will remain ad-free so that friends can have uninterrupted conversations while staying on the network.
Time will tell.
Snapchat might see this move as an attempt by Facebook to quash the photo-sharing app after they rejected their offer. At least, that is how they will see it for now. Hundreds of millions of snaps might be sent every day on Snapchat, but you have to wonder if the investors that just fed Snapchat with another $50 million are a little nervous now that they see this new feature on Instagram. There is no revenue being generated by Snapchat and now there is what appears to be a very serious competitor emerging.
Do you use Snapchat? Do you plan on using Instagram Direct? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!