Campaigns and advocacy groups could be the beneficiaries of a live video arms race between the major social media companies.
Instagram unveiled new features Monday including live video streaming, which disappears after the broadcast ends, and Snapchat-style disappearing photos. The features build on Instagram Stories, the section of the app where users can share sequential videos and photos. The new features are expected to be released in stages in the coming weeks.
The move by the company, which is owned by Facebook, comes as anticipation builds on Wall Street for Snap Inc., Snapchat’s formal name, to file its IPO. Paperwork filed by the Venice, Calif.-based company recently pegged the value of the image and video sharing platform at close to $25 billion.
“This is another example of Facebook using Instagram to blunt the impact of Snapchat,” said Brian Ross Adams, a Democratic digital consultant. “It remains to be seen if users adopt these new features and if campaigns can use them with the Facebook advertising system.”
Chase Campbell , VP, Client Strategy, at the GOP digital firm Harris Media, said he expects users will be able to pay to boost their live streams on Instagram. That could make it a useful tool for down-ballot campaigns to gain traction. “I think live is important,” Campbell said.
While Snapchat remains a popular platform to reach 18-34 year olds, Campbell said the company needs to improve transparency to compete for campaigns’ dollars next cycle.
Snapchat has said it has some 60 million daily active users, whereas Instagram recently boasted that it has 100 million daily active users on its Stories platform. Still, Snapchat has been successful where other tech giants have failed. It’s Spectacles are generating positive buzz despite Google Glass bombing with users.
“When you compare the two [Snapchat and Instagram], they’re very similar,” said Campbell. “But with Snapchat, there’s not as much transparency and you’re not going to get the depth of metrics that the Facebook network has.”
Samantha Osborne, a digital consultant now serving as deputy digital director at the RNC, said she doesn’t expect Instagram to replace Snapchat, even if the new features take off.
“From a marketer's perspective, each platform is an opportunity to reach and engage with people. Depending on your objectives and target audiences, you wouldn't necessarily want to limit yourself to one or the other,” she told C&E.
“My general thought on social media is that you need to go where people are to communicate with them so it's better to be inclusive rather than exclusive,” she added, noting that both have large audiences.
Meanwhile, campaigns also have the option of using Periscope to live stream their content. While parent company Twitter has seen user growth stall, the platform could benefit from having a big booster in the form of President-elect Trump, who has continued to tweet since his election.
Regardless of the platform, media consultant Brian Jodice wrote recently for C&E, “these apps will remain a tactic to break news, share content and connect voters directly to the candidate.”