Instagram Stories has blossomed from a Snapchat clone into an integral part of the world’s largest dedicated visual communication app in the first year since its launch. Half of the businesses on Instagram produced a story in the last month, and it’s boosted the app’s average usage to 32 minutes per day for those under 25, and 24 minutes per day for those 25 and up.
If Facebook’s goal was stop Snap in its tracks, it’s largely succeeded with Instagram Stories. Snapchat’s monthly active user growth rate has plummeted from 17.2% per quarter to just 5%, while Snap’s share price has fallen from its $17 IPO to $13. Instagram Stories now has 250 million daily users compared to Snapchat’s 166 million. Instagram’s usage per day beats the “more than 30 minutes per day” of usage Snapchat claims on average now, as well as the over 30 minutes per day for under 25s and 20 minutes per day for over 25s Snap cited in its IPO filing.
It’s clear to see why users are flocking to Instagram. It has stolen some of Snap’s primary use cases and party tricks. Instagram’s most popular augmented reality filter is the same as the Snap one it copied: virtual puppy ears. Also in the top five Instagram face filters are bunny ears at #3 and Koala ears at #5, both inspired by the meme-worthy popularity of Snap’s dog face. Meanwhile, Instagram keeps iterating with new features and sticker packs, like the one below to celebrate Instagram Stories’ first birthday.
Instagram is actually getting more efficient at copying Snapchat. While it took almost 3 years to launch its own version of Stories, Instagram needed just 4 months to copy Snapchat’s create-your-own-stickers feature launched in April.
Instagram not only copied Snapchat’s Stories, but has turned its Instagram Direct feature into a full-fledged Snapchat ephemeral private messaging competitor. By allowing people to send quick visual messages that disappear, Instagram Direct has grown to 375 million monthly users. Snap’s influence has helped Instagram’s chat feature one of the most popular messaging apps in the world behind WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat. Now one in five Instagram Stories posted by a business receives a Direct Message reply, allowing Instagram to seduce advertisers who want private channels for communicating with customers.