Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, came to a realization during the end of 2015 that his brainchild has been going into a totally different direction than was originally planned. Initially, Instagram had been made in order for users to share their daily life experiences with friends and family, but recently it’s become an influencer hub, and people started sharing less personal photos and worried about the quality of their posts. It had become a competition.
This pressure on users also pressured Instagram internally. Users have been sharing less frequently, while its rival Snapchat, is seeing quite a different fate. In April 2016, a study found that Snapchat had surpassed Instagram as the “most important” social network for teenagers, a title which Instagram proudly held in the last couple of years. This led to the reinvention of Instagram, which Systrom did by looking backward and refocusing the company’s priorities back to its roots.
“Your connections with your friends and your family are the thing that make Instagram work,” Systrom said. “All the data supports that if you follow more friends and engage with your friends, your activity goes through the roof. If you just follow more celebrity content or more interest-based content, that doesn’t move the needle at all.”
“Your connections with your friends and your family are the thing that make Instagram work.”
This realization led to the app’s major update – Instagram Stories – which is basically what their rival Snapchat was famous for. When asked about the stark similarities between the features, Instagram doesn’t deny that it borrowed the idea for Stories. Kevin Weil, Head of Product at Instagram, says that the Stories feature was built on a format that Snapchat invented. He says it’s because they were solving the same problem, that it’s a format, and they believe that format will be universal. Systrom says that Snapchat motivates Instagram in the sense that he thinks the rival company is really innovative.
“I think we run different companies and I think we have different goals in mind, but we share a lot of the same aspirations.”, said Systrom.