A Tale of Two Platforms: Instagram Stories vs SnapChat

Ali J. TaylorMarketing, Social MediaLeave a Comment

Instagram Stories

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of social media and every brand is trying to figure out how to promote and market on it.

This week saw a surprising new update to Instagram: a new feature that allows people to post collections of photos and videos that only last 24 hours. Sound familiar? It should cause that’s exactly what Snapchat is.

I’ve seen comments claiming that it’s a blatant ripoff; some even snarkily captioning that Instagram changed it’s logo again beneath a photo of Snapchat’s logo.

Perhaps it is. But then again, why wouldn’t you steal your competitor’s best feature? Especially if you can use it to lower the barrier for active use upon your own platform. As Kevin Systrom, co-founder and chief executive of Instagram stated in an NY Times article,

“Our mission has always been to capture and share the world’s moments, not just the world’s most beautiful moments. Stories will alleviate a ton of pressure people have to post their absolute best stuff.”

An internal survey conducted by Instagram revealed that teens would often delete photos that didn’t get enough likes or no longer reflected their lives. One of Snapchat’s biggest advantages is that its space is controlled by the user. Only you know who’s opened your snap or replayed it.

Teenagers are constantly reinventing themselves and trying to find their identity. A platform that doesn’t make it easy to do just that is likely to experience a drop-off in active daily use.

For brands, or rather the marketers who get paid to run brand accounts, that are hoping to connect with teens and young adults, any sudden or steep drop-off in usage will cause them to rethink advertising on the platform to increase their reach – an important thing to note being that Instagram’s timeline is no longer chronological.

To reference another Dickensian tale, Instagram must have been visited by the ‘Ghost of Social Future’ to see that removing the risk of a post publicly underperforming will be the key to keeping brands on the platform. Like Snapchat Memories, brands will be able to upload video content to their Stories; which is great because brands are generally lazy when it comes to producing great content consistently. Content can be repurposed and uploaded to the platform to find new life or engagement.

There are no filters on Instagram Stories yet but I doubt that will affect it too much. Brands and marketers that aren’t in the entertainment or teen space haven’t figured out how to work Snapchat to their advantage. But I suspect that Instagram Stories will provide the same level of authentic and immediate engagement for brands that Snapchat does for teens and young millennials.

So is Instagram Stories ultimately better for small business?

Yes, I believe so. I know you can’t turn yourself in a bee or face swap with a friend, but hear me out:

You can create Snapchat-like content without having to build a Snapchat following. You’ve done that work already and you can easily tap into your Facebook-connected business page to cross-promote.

Your chances of being discovered are much higher. Hashtags and geotags make it easy to find or search others in your location or industry. Sure you can promote your Snapcode on other channels. But you’re essentially asking your audience to pivot from a connected ecosystem to follow you on a platform that is largely self-contained.

If you’ve wanted to experiment with Snapchat-style content without making the leap and duplicating your audience-building efforts, Instagram Stories is your chance.

Continue the conversation…

  1. Share your thoughts on the new Instagram Stories – ripoff or improvement?
  2. Do you use Snapchat for your business? If so, how are you doing that and has it been successful?
  3. If you haven’t already, will you try Instagram Stories? Will you create a different strategy for it?