• Nadine Pierre

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Stories And The Convergence Of Social Media

When Instagram unveiled Stories a few weeks ago, the instant reaction was one of shock and outrage — it is evident that they had ripped off this feature from Snapchat…

…and they did. But that misses the point. This move legitimises the story as a way of consuming social content in 2016.

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom gave a great quote in an interview with The Verge:

"Like how Facebook invented the [News] feed, and every social product said, ''This is an innovation, how do we adapt it to our network?'' You will see stories appear on other networks over time because this is one of the best ways to display visual information in chronological order, content relevant to their interests, Snapchat made-up stories, and others will follow for that one fundamentally brilliant way of consuming content - it's storytelling at its finest.

It's not so much that Instagram copied Snapchat. Instead, they adapt to how people like to communicate, create, and consume content in 2016. Strategically, it's a brilliant move.

As the title of this article suggests, I think what we're seeing is a symbol of a much broader shift in social media:

  • Facebook is now twelve years old.

  • Twitter is just ten years old.

  • Instagram is six years old.

  • Snapchat started five years ago.

Every central social platform has been around for more than five years.

What does that mean? It means that the platforms are entering the stage of maturity. Facebook has been around for a while, but now the others are there too.

Using Snapchat as an example, let's follow a typical social platform's (highly simplified) journey. Start with a clear difference to the current offer. (Ephemeral messages) Growing up. Make yourself known for this niche and build a central user base. (Teenager) It ere. Diversify - Create features that appeal to people outside of your niche as well. (Greetings)

In the early stages of a social media platform (or a startup), differentiation is the most important thing. It would be helpful if you offered something unique to attract people.

But differentiation becomes negligible once you have the core audience loyal to your platform. So ... go through the levels until you reach level 4: diversification.

Once you've reached the saturation point with your target audience, you need to increase your appeal beyond your niche. Otherwise, it will stop growing.

It'sIt's Never Good Twitter'sTwitter's decline over the past two years shows that if you stop growing, people will stop using your platform, resulting in a drop in advertising revenue and a drop in investor confidence.

The leading social platforms are in level 4. So we started to see something exciting: convergence. Each social platform is very similar in terms of the tools it offers, as each social platform, by and large, tries to achieve the same goal: to become the place where content is communicated, created, and consumed.

A nugget from Benedict Evans. As they grow, specialised social platforms become all-rounders and not the other way around. In contrast to the broader technology landscape, what differs from social media is the importance of context.

The Tools Offered Each platform will be remarkably similar. But the context in which these tools are used remains different, a relic of the past.

Snapchat is the platform where spontaneity dominates because short messages promoted that context. This context remains the same throughout. However, Snapchat is moving away from the short niche. We use the same tools in different ways because platforms are always tied to their original context.