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Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories

WRITTEN by: Catherine Fimiani |
categories: Content Marketing

Oct 2017


Where to post the perfect shot and why

Is this the end of Snapchat? That’s what we all wondered when Instagram decided real-time video wasn’t Snapchat’s baby anymore. Every major change in a social media platform makes us question how the ‘crowd’ will react; will users migrate to a new platform or end up loving the change? For example: take the big bad decision Snapchat once made to stop disclosing their users’ ‘Best Friends.’ We. Were. Enraged. But, we quickly adapted. Now it’s time to brave the Instagram wave of change with Instagram Stories, but how do we choose where to post what?

Let’s start with the basics – of course Snapchat and Instagram are both social media platforms. Let’s think of them as step-sisters, ugly step-sisters if you will –that live by the motto “anything you can do I can do better.” Here’s the thing though, Instagram is a little snobbier than Snapchat, but still envious of Snapchat’s innovations.

Snapchat and Instagram have different intents. Although the photo-centered platforms may overlap when it comes to their features, they have different intents. Snapchat is used as a more intimate, media-rich communication tool, while Instagram is used as a public photo sharing and editing tool. For this reason, Snapchat stories are generally used to display what users are doing at that very moment in a real and raw nature. However, Instagram stories are a bit more staged, showing only the aesthetically pleasing aspects of what users are doing at that moment, like cheers, an artistic plate of food or a picturesque view.

Bigger platform = broader reach = more thought. Although Snapchat was the first real-time video phenomenon, Instagram has more than triple the number of users, which makes social validation an important factor for users. Because of the significant gap, Instagram automatically has a leg up on Snapchat. As Instagram stories result in more exposure, users put more thought into what they are revealing to the acquaintances (or in some cases strangers), that would not be part of their most intimate Snapchat following.

Perceived Instagram-worthiness. Have you ever heard the phrase “Instagram worthy”? The phrase was coined by millennials to denote whether a photo would get enough engagement to be ‘worth’ posting. But no one has ever said that about Snapchat. That’s because Snapchat is more of a free-spirit – post what you want, when you want – no judgement. However, Instagram-worthiness is the essence of the platform.

Now what?
So, how do marketers maximize their reach on each individual platform? Marketers can use Snapchat as a tool to pull in users who want to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest. For example, Snapchat can be used to “sneak peek” new products, prior to the release of that particular information on Instagram. Millennials don’t like to be left out, so post exclusive information and they will follow. However, marketers can use Instagram as a tool to spread awareness because of the ability to tag another user, re-post, like, or comment. For this reason, Instagram will receive more engagement when professional and aesthetically pleasing photos are posted.

At first glance, Snapchat and Instagram stories seem to be identical, but for familiar users they are quite different. By recognizing these differences, marketers can utilize the two platforms in specific and intentional ways to engage their audiences to their maximum potential.

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