Instagram’s Snapchat-like features pull in more users

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Stories is already seeing more users than Snapchat.
Stories is already seeing more users than Snapchat.
Photo: Instagram

Instagram’s move to adopt features similar to SnapChat seems to have paid off for the globally popular photo-sharing network.

On its blog Thursday, Instagram sent a thank you note to its community, a number that surpassed 600 million users since it was founded in October of 2010.

The number of users grew by 100 million in six months and seems to coincide with new features directly inspired by SnapChat. With engagement seemingly slipping, Instagram introduced more privacy settings, including a feature called stories, content that disappears within 24 hours.

SnapChat is five years old but saw a boost in engagement two years ago when it launched its stories feature that encouraged users to share more candidly rather than orchestrate a perfectly composed aspirational snapshots of daily happenings.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom acknowledged taking a page out of SnapChat’s book in an interview with The Verge in August but said the stories format was bound to be adopted by other social media network.

Something had to change. Instagram’s users were posting less, according to one report that showed a two-year decline in the number photos shared. Meanwhile, SnapChat, especially popular with younger users, saw engagement up with users spending more than 20 minutes a day with the app.

If Instagram users were tentative about posting more organically, that changed with the addition of the stories feature. Within weeks, more than 100 million Instagrammers were using the feature every day. Just last month, SnapChat adopted a rewind feature for SnapChat stories, copying it from Instagram.

Both Instagram and SnapChat have more daily users than Twitter and whether SnapChat catches up to Instagram’s number of followers remains to be seen.

In September, SnapChat announced a change in the company name to Snap Inc., and now refers to itself as a camera company. At the same time, Snap Inc., introduced its first piece of hardware, Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses with a wireless video camera that lets you record video and transfer your footage to the app.

Spectacles come in three colors and will run about $130, but so far they are not widely available. To purchase a pair, you have to go through a Snapbot, a roving vending machine that doesn’t stay in one place very long.