If recent trends are any indication, the future of social media lives in Stories—those short bursts of customizable, compilable videos and images that stay online for just 24 hours—and every platform wants to make their version the one you use exclusively.
Last week, Facebook announced a desktop upload tool for its Stories feature, hoping to entice Facebookers to create content on more than just their mobile. Today, Instagram rolls out a new GIF integration, which lets users animate Instagram Stories with selections from Giphy's library. Even WhatsApp makes a Stories feature now, which as of this month integrates with Instagram Stories so you can cross-post content.
It's easy to imagine Snapchat fuming at all of this. The platform didn't just popularize the concept of Stories—it pioneered them. And now, in a social media landscape crowded with copycats, Snapchat is slipping behind.
Today, Snap is taking a new tactical approach: It's making it possible to share some types of Snapchat Stories beyond the app itself. You'll be able to hold down a tile on any public Story and send it to someone in a text, an email, or even through other social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook. ("Public stories" include those from Snapchat's verified users, like celebrities and sports teams; those featured in the curated Our Stories section, which shows a selection of Snaps from the community at large; and those discovered through search.) The company hopes that by moving some Snapchat content beyond the fortressed walls of the Snapchat app, it can attract new users and give its content greater longevity. But it's also a signal that the Story Wars are only just beginning, and Snapchat isn't ready to throw up a white flag just yet.
When Snapchat launched, it looked like a strange experiment. It had little in common with Facebook or Twitter or the other apps duking it out to be your primary source of news and lulz. Instead, Snapchat suggested a social media future that was immersive and camera-first, immediate and ephemeral.
It turned out people loved the idea of an app that privileged the camera over the keyboard. As Snapchat climbed in popularity, it came up with new ways to share photos and videos, including the introduction of Stories in 2013. Unlike the disappearing snapshots you could trade one-on-one with your friends, Stories' consecutive strings of videos showed up to all of your followers. It quickly became the app's most popular feature, and opened up the platform to new creations like Our Stories, public-facing Stories that compile footage from Snapchatters focused on a cultural moment, holiday, or news event.