Instagram vs Snapchat: What’s the story?

Instagram Stories and Snapchat have a lot in common, but this does not mean they are the same.

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It’s been just over a week since Instagram launched Instagram Stories,

“a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile.”

Our very own Victoria covered the basics of Instagram Stories in last Friday’s installment of My Five, but for the benefit of those who may have missed it; Instagram Stories lets users customise videos or photos with text, emojis or drawings, share them with their followers, before they are deleted 24 hours later. Because Stories do not appear in the main Instagram feed, users can post as much as they want, without clogging up their followers’ timelines.

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If all that sounds familiar, it’s because it is, and Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom is making no attempts to deny that the Stories model is a carbon copy of Snapchat. Systrom told Techcrunch,

“When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

In the case of Instagram Stories, “own spin” consists of the following key Snapchat differentiators:

  • Instagram allows you to “rewind” stories to play back things you may have missed
  • Instagram has more marker options when it comes to doodling
  • Instagram lets you post sections of your story as an Instagram post
  • Instagram doesn’t show you who screenshots your story, but Snapchat does
  • Geofilters and facial-mapping are still limited to Snapchat

But that’s not to say there’s still a lot of similarities:

  • Both are called “Stories”
  • Both allow clips up to 10 seconds in length
  • Both make stories temporary by removing uploads after 24 hours
  • Both allow you to select and watch your friends’ stories sequentially
  • Both allow you to reply to stories with direct messages
  • Both allow you to add custom text atop your images and video
  • Both include filters
  • Both let you draw with a built-in marker
  • Both include the option to save the media directly to your camera roll
  • Both display who views your story

Lists courtesy of The Verge

From a user’s perspective, Instagram Stories and Snapchat offer a very similar experience. However, for marketers looking to engage with said users, there are some more significant differentiating factors to consider, such as:

Daily active user statistics: Instagram has over 300 million daily active users, almost double that of Snapchat. Broadly speaking, Instagram gives marketers the potential to tap into a much larger audience than Snapchat.

Pre-existing audiences: For brands that already have a good following on Instagram, building a comparable following on Snapchat could prove very difficult. As highlighted in a recent article on Business Insider; Nike has 58 million followers on Instagram, which is around a third of Snapchat’s entire daily active users – needless to say, capturing a third of an entire userbase is a big ask, even for a brand of Nike’s stature.

The value of Nike’s pre-existing Instagram following was highlighted this week, when an Instagram Story posted by Nike’s Jordan Brand generated more than 200,000 views within the first three hours.  24 hours later, the story had accumulated over 800,000 views.

For comparison, Nike’s best-performing video on Snapchat only got 66,000 views, according to Nike’s social media agency.

Shareability: Instagram encourages interaction and sharing, through commenting, hashtags, liking and its broad search functionality, while Snapchat is much more closed and makes it extremely difficult to find anything, unless you know where to look specifically – users must know the exact name of the account they want to follow in order to find them.

Instagram Stories or Snapchat?

Based on the comparisons above, Instagram Stories comes out on top, particularly for brands who already have a healthy Instagram following. Snapchat, while a popular app amongst friends, does little to encourage brands to get in on the action.

That said, it’s very early days for Instagram Stories, and Snapchat – whilst smaller in comparison – is certainly no small deal, with the company recently valued at around $20 billion, so may just surprise us all with a development of its own in the near future.

The similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat are glaringly obvious, but so to are the differences. Whether they can coexist is yet to be seen.

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