Instagram, borrowing from the Snapchat playbook, will soon introduce Instagram Stories, it announced in an Aug. 1 update.
Stories will feature an unlimited number of photos, videos and drawn doodles to tell a story, and then will disappear after 24 hours. The Stories won't appear in a user's grid or feed.
Snapchat has attracted users by being, in large part, ephemeral and thus low-pressure, while Instagram has become dominated by ever more professional-looking photos.
The pressure of posting high-quality photos has led to a reduction in usership—or to a philosophy of, in many case, just posting once a day. (In an interview with Techcrunch, Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom admitted to posting nothing in the six days prior to the interview because nothing had seemed, said the report, "special enough.")
With Stories, Instagram is discouraging any such mental editing or judgment.
"You don't have to worry about overposting," the company wrote in an Aug. 2 blog post. "Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day—with as much creativity as you want."
Stories can be hidden from selected individuals (any guesses how this might play out with the teen community?), even if they follow you.
Stories can't be liked or commented on, though comments can be sent through direct message on Instagram Direct, and a user can swipe up to see who viewed each image and video in a story.
Users will be able to view stories by tapping a bar at the top of their feeds. Tapping moves you back or forward in a story, and swiping moves you on to another person's story.
Instagram said it will roll out the feature globally over the next few weeks.
On June 2, Bloomberg reported that the 4-year-old Snapchat has 150 million active daily users—up from 110 million in December.
Twitter, now 10 years old, has fewer than 140 million daily active users.
The 6-year-old, Facebook-owned Instagram announced in June that it has 500 million active monthly users and 300 million active daily users.
The low-pressure sharing encouraged by Stories comes as Instagram expands from courting advertising from big businesses to now also very small ones. It recently made it easier for users to identify themselves as businesses and to promote images, whether to prompt a visit to a website or a call to company. As with Facebook, promotion prices can start as low as $3.
Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 for $1.2 billion. Credit Suisse has reported it expects Instagram's revenue contribution to Facebook to reach $3.2 billion for the full year 2016.
In 2013, Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in cash, which founder Evan Spiegel declined, to the surprise of the public and many pundits alike. Today, the company is valued at around $20 billion.