Instagram and WhatsApp’s Snapchat clones aren’t slowing down. Today Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both now have 300 million daily active users. That’s up from 250 million for Instagram in June, and WhatsApp in July. That makes the copies almost twice the size of the original, as Snapchat’s entire app only has 173 million daily active users. Zuckerberg shared the new stats today on Facebook’s Q3 earnings call that saw it earn record revenue and an all-time high share price despite the shadow of Russian election interference.
Now that most of Facebook products, including Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories and Messenger Day, have their own augmented reality face filters, they’ve hit a degree of feature parity with Snapchat. That means we may see more innovation now that there’s less of a Snap roadmap to follow. Though perhaps we’ll see Facebook copy Snapchat’s Bitmoji personalized avatars and Snap Map location-sharing feature. For example, Instagram just launched Superzoom to let you add dramatic zoom-ins to your videos, and is testing a Stop Motion feature.
Zuckerberg said on the call that he sees fostering community around video as a big push for Facebook as it shifts from focusing on “time spent” on the company’s family of apps to “time well spent.” Zuckerberg explained that “research shows that interacting with friends and family on social media tends to be more meaningful and can be good for our well-being, and that’s time well spent. But when we just passively consume content, that may be less true.”
Because Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status are peer-to-peer video usually viewed by close friends, they enhance the community feel of Facebook’s apps in ways that top-down professionally produced content can’t. People also watch these short clips intensely, which could be a boon for the advertisements Facebook now inserts between Instagram Stories.
Now more than half of Instagram’s 500 million daily active users are on Stories, indicating that it’s becoming the future of the app. That idea is supported by the fact that Instagram now injects big preview tiles of Stories into the middle of its feed to encourage you to watch them. While people might like to permanently post the occasional glamour shot, or quickly scroll them, Stories drive daily creation and longer bouts of consumption. While Snapchat may have pioneered the idea, Instagram is pushing to perfect this modern form of social media.