TikTok Stories: A game changer or just another copycat feature?

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At the moment it feels like TikTok and Instagram are constantly competing for our attention. First, we saw Instagram introduce Reels to mimic TikTok’s success and more recently, TikTok has announced that they are testing Instagram style stories.

Earlier this month, Social media consultant and TikTok spokesperson Matt Navarra posted this update on Twitter.

Stories will live in a new slide-over sidebar, where you’ll be able to see stories posted by accounts that you follow on TikTok for 24 hours before they’re automatically deleted. Just like on Instagram, users will be able to react and comment on your story.

TikTok describes this as “a new way to interact with your fans”. However, unlike Instagram, TikTok is sticking to its roots by allowing only video content to be shown in these stories. Another difference is that comments will be made public, rather than going into the users DMs. This could potentially be a game-changer for brands and users on the app — it opens up the door for more engagement transparency and two-way conversations in Stories.

The fact that the app is testing a ‘Stories’ feature comes as no surprise really. We’ve seen it work well on Instagram for a few years now, Facebook also has their own story feature and Snapchat’s entire app is based on the success of 24-hour stories and short-lived, disappearing content.

However, it does feel like the top social media apps are slowly merging into each other. Gone are the days that Instagram was a photo-sharing app, TikTok was a video sharing app, Twitter was a thought sharing app and Facebook was where you would post 60 holiday photos in an album and share a status about how good your weekend was. Now they all seem to be following the same recipe book and there’s not much that differentiates them in terms of user experience.

Will it be a game-changer?

When they work, stories are a great way to get users to interact with each other on an app, offer a new place for ads, allow users up to date with the latest news and friends updates, as well as having the ability to keep users coming back to the app. According to Instagram themselves, over 500 million users utilize Instagram stories on a daily basis and approximately 86.6% of Instagram’s users post stories every day.

However, adding stories isn’t always a success, we’re looking at you Twitter! After just 8 months, Twitter recently shut down their stories attempt – creatively named Fleets – due to the lack of use and general negativity towards the feature.

It will be interesting to see how TikTok’s latest feature will go down once it’s pushed out to all users. What we will likely see is users duplicating content on both platforms, like we are already seeing with TikTok being posted as Reels. I think if they are used as a way for content creators and brands to increase engagement and build a strong community, I think they may work well. However for the general public, I think people will still favour Instagram stories, it’s familiar.