Instagram Stories: A Rip Off or Improvement Over Snapchat?

instagram storiesWhen Instagram announced that it would begin to offer a ‘stories’ feature on the network, the cries about a cheap copy of Snapchat’s popular tool were immediate, loud, and accurate. As TechCrunch pointed out this summer,

Instead of trying to be special with weird mechanics like Slingshot’s reply-to-reveal content, it’s cloned Snapchat Stories down to the pixel because it’s already proven to work… At their core, the use cases of Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories are identical: Shoot, decorate and frequently share little clips from your life.

But look into the feature a little more, and you’ll find more than just an identical feature on a different social media network. In fact, analyzing the differences between Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories helps to illustrate how both can provide a significant advantage to businesses looking to enhance their social media presence.

First: The Similarities

The core idea of the two Stories tools is the same: rather than relying on single visuals to convey your message, you can compile photos and videos into a coherent ‘story’ format that disappears after one day. You can see which users view your stories, and they can reply to the posts with a single swipe through direct messages.

For brands, that means an invaluable opportunity to share more in-depth content than social media usually allows. If you host an event, for example, you no longer have to rely on individual images or videos from the event to share it with your followers. Instead, you can string them together to tell the story of the event and increase your audience engagement. Of course, that’s where the similarities end.

The Advantages of Instagram Stories

As Social Media Week details, Instagram actually has a number of advantages over its Snapchat counterpart. It took the general idea, and refined it to provide a better user experience.

For example, you can deliver your Instagram Stories to platform users who don’t yet follow your business account. Stories appear on the top of your users’ main feed rather than a separate screen, offering better integration with your ‘regular’ efforts on the network.

The internal user friendliness of Instagram compared to Snapchat is another advantage. Rather than relying on swipes to navigate your way through stories and potential responses, clear buttons tell you exactly what steps to take to view and engage with a post. Finally, an easier upload option will help you create your stories with less friction.

Keeping Your Audience in Mind

Ultimately, both Snapchat’s and Instagram’s Stories tools are very similar features that help you reach your audience in a more comprehensive and integrated way. Instagram’s option may be a bit more user friendly, but the choice in which tool to use will – as always – come down to your audience.

This year, Snapchat replaced Instagram as the most popular social media network among teenagers. The latter is growing with its audience, and now finds its core user base among 18 to 29 year-olds. The older the audience, the more likely it will be to prefer Instagram over Snapchat.

The capabilities of the respective Stories tools reflect this trend. Snapchat’s lack of user friendliness matters little for digital natives and teenagers, who will have no problem navigating through the individual screens. That means your business has a decision to make: which network will my audience be most likely to spend their time on? The answer will determine whether Snapchat or Instagram Stories, ultimately, are the best tool to help you gain brand awareness.

Are you looking to improve your social media marketing efforts? If so, you might get confused by the near-constant stream of updates and new features that networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat offer. For professional help in optimizing your strategy, and increasing your business success on social media, contact us.