Who Will Instagram Copy Next?

Fast, furious, and savvy is the way of the tech world. Business etiquette is out the window and the gloves are off. The rules are there are no rules. There is only the latest craze, the newest rage, and the biggest fad. If your app isn’t part of that mania, then you are one step behind and at risk being left behind. Competition is fierce and sometimes you must step on toes to get ahead.  It may not be proper, but it’s necessary to stay competitive and lucrative.

It is said that, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and Silicon Valley is the perfect example of tech companies copying the success of another to advance their own interests. Instagram, for example, is the new kid on the block and continuously rolls out features that look identical to their competitors. As these social media platforms engage in a bloody battle for the attention of social media, phone obsessed, millennials they realize that although copying can be a form of flattery, it can also be a major form of frustration.

Innovation has been replaced with adaptation as Instagram is striving to be the superior social media app that contains everyone’s favorite features from the most popular social platforms.

1. Instagram Stories

The first and most obvious feature on Instagram that was clearly hijacked from Snapchat, is the new Instagram Stories. Besides the fact that they use the same name, both features on both apps generally do exactly the same thing. Stories allow profiles to post photos/videos on their profile that disappear after 24 hours and are not retained in their feed. The similarity is undeniable and the intent to duplicate a competitor is clear. In addition, Instagram allows users to doodle on the captured pictures and add filters based on location.

Stories are a highly effective marketing tool for companies and allow unique interaction with their audience. The content is temporary so the risk of over posting is minimized. Stories offer a more personal yet casual interaction with your followers which encourages a more engaging relationship. Originally, a feature unique to Snapchat, Instagram stunned the world by releasing their own (almost identical) version.

Screenshot from Instagram

2. Instagram Live

Outdoing and overachieving is the way of the tech world. In an attempt to trump the other apps that were specifically for live streams as well as Facebook, who just recently added a live streaming process, Instagram jumped at the chance of adopting (or copying) the feature and implementing it into their app. Unlike Facebook, that offers the replay option, Instagram Live videos disappear as soon as the stream finishes. The Tech Crunch reports that Instagram live videos “could get people broadcasting more frequently….[and will create] a greater urgency to watch immediately because they know it’s their only chance. The fear of missing out is a genuine fear amongst users and has since become part of the marketing strategy.

Within the Instagram Live feature, you can interact with the video in real time by adding comments “or tap repeatedly to add hearts, a feature exactly like on Periscope.” The feature is clearly an imitation and combination of the Facebook and Periscope feature.

Screenshot of Instagram Live

3. Instagram Disappearing Messages

Though Instagram has never disclosed their strategy, actions reveal a plan of action aimed at making their competitor Snapchat, completely irrelevant. The essence of Snapchat is the disappearing messages and pictures you can send to other users. It was a social media platform unlike any other in the Valley… until Instagram decided they had had enough.

Not surprisingly, Instagram recently duplicated this idea and added it to their app. The app now allows you to send messages and pictures to groups of your friends who will be able to see the message or photo and replay it once before it disappears.

Screenshot of Instagram Disappearing Message

4. Instagram Albums

The new Instagram Albums feature allows users to upload up to 10 pictures in one post. Instead of choosing one favorite photo from an experience, you now only have to narrow your decision to 10. Most social media devotee’s keep their photos organized in albums on Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. This new feature will help gain users who are looking to upload their pictures in albums and as Business Insider stated “can help suffocate Pinterest’s growth in terms of users and ad spending.” It’s a double whammy! Instagram albums now make them competitive with two very different social media platforms.

Screenshot of Instagram Album

Strategic imitation seems to be working for Instagram as they have effectively secured their place of superiority in social media. As demonstrated by their actions, Instagram, it appears, has put business etiquette aside and focused their strategy on user growth. With the sole purpose of expansion, anything and everything is fair game. While this may be great for users, Instagram needs to proceed with caution, as adding too many features could eventually back fire.

The question is now directed towards the marketers. Does the growth and success of Instagram eliminate the necessity of the other platforms?

While it’s vitally important to increase your Instagram presence, there is no steadfast guarantee of success and the rules of the game are in constant flux. Inconsistency is the one constant in social media so it would be a grave mistake to give up on the other social media platforms. Instagram may be giving their competitors a run for their money, but rest assured, the fight isn’t over just yet.

Shannon Hessen – Content Creator

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