What’s your Instachat Story?

Social media has always been about storytelling. Whether it’s your best friend posting about her vacation in Italy or a local restaurant sharing a throwback photo of its opening day, social media continues to be the perfect place for individuals and brands alike to tell their own unique stories.

With all these narratives being shared, it was almost surprising that only one popular channel — in this case, Snapchat — had a feature specifically called Stories. In fact, it’s one of the aspects of Snapchat that long set the app apart from other visual platforms like Instagram or Vine.

Recognizing the appeal, Instagram recently released its own Stories feature that shares many similarities with Snapchat’s. This has left many brands and influencers wondering: Is one better than the other? Should I be sharing my Story on Instagram, Snapchat, or both? The answer: a resounding “it depends.” Read on…

Everyone Has A Story

Before deciding whether Instagram or Snapchat Stories (or both) make the most sense for you or your brand, it’s important to understand what makes each platform and its respective Stories feature unique.

Since its launch five years ago, Snapchat has remained popular for its ephemeral “now you see it, now you don’t” content and is highly used by a younger demographic (60% of Snapchat users are between 13–24 years old). Over the past couple of years, the platform has seen steady growth with the Generation X set, partially due to its fun Filters feature, as well as the ability to create Stories.

Snapchat Stories enable users to compile photos and videos, overlaid with fun extras like text or doodles, into an interactive slideshow, almost like a mini movie. In addition to giving Snaps more energy and context, Stories have a longer lifespan than individual Snaps; a story remains visible to its audience for 24 hours, whereas Snaps disappear almost immediately after they’re viewed.

Snapchat is not just for young consumers; take a look at a few of the major brands that are actively using Snapchat to build their audiences:

  1. Taco Bell (@tacobell)
  2. Sour Patch Kids (@sourpatchsnaps)
  3. BuzzFeed (@buzzfeed)
  4. NPR (@nprnews)
  5. National Geographic (@natgeo)

Fast forward to Instagram’s recent entry into the world of interactive content — its own Stories feature. Though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles Snapchat offers (I expect more to be added in the future), Instagram’s Stories update has taken off quickly with current users. Since Instagram’s age demographic is somewhat closer to that of its parent Facebook, it’s a natural fit for more people to integrate Stories into their daily posts. Once a fun feature for teens and millennials on Snapchat, users of all ages are comfortable with both Instagram’s user interface and established communities — it’s a no-brainer.

Curated Content: Live Stories

Instagram Events Channel

In addition to users’ Snapchat Stories, which they can share with either their entire friends list or customize a private audience, Snapchat also curates Live Stories that offer a global community perspective. Snapchat gathers tweets from users at events and locations around the world — for instance, images and video from the Rio Olympics or the latest Oscar winner reactions — and compiles them into a global experience all users can enjoy.

Based on the popularity of Snapchat’s Live Stories, Instagram recently added Events Channels to its Explore section (Events Channels are currently available to users in the United States), just a couple of weeks after debuting Stories. Instagram even went a step further by personalizing each user’s Events Channel to their own preferences and habits.

Image source: Business Insider

A Little Healthy Competition

At this point, it’s not clear who, if anyone, will win the Story Wars. A few weeks since the feature launched, Instagram Stories don’t appear to have impacted daily Snapchat usage, according to recent data compiled by SensorTower.

Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories - App Usage

Image source: Business Insider

That said, if Instagram continues to draw inspiration from the features that draw users to other social sharing apps, that trend may change. For instance, in a preliminary survey on the Wishbone app, 43% of more than 32,000 users said they would delete Snapchat if Instagram added filters. A shift like this could drive brands to invest less in their Snapchat presence and more in the Instagram community they’ve already built.

For users and influencers, Instagram Stories are already being used frequently. As more brands jump into creating Instagram Stories, we expect to see the following:

  • More ad dollars spent for sponsored posts related to Stories (or even the addition of sponsored Stories)
  • The need for more content moderation around Stories
  • More time spent viewing Stories
  • The continued increase of video and interactive content trumping that of static text and images

Where Should You Tell Your Story?

If you want to start posting interactive Story content but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips to help you decide:

First, consider your audience — specifically, things like age, gender, and income level. Is your target demographic more likely to be on Instagram or Snapchat? If you’re aiming to attract a younger audience, specifically those ages 18–24, you may want to consider a presence on both.

Define your brand goals. Are you looking to drive public community discussions, or are you more interested in one-to-one interactions? Do you want to engage an existing group of followers or fans or attract new ones? Is your style more curated and professional, humorous and silly, or perhaps a clever mix of the two? Your Snapchat audience is likely going to be most receptive to raw content that shows the human side of your brand, while Instagram can allow you to interweave both refined and playful content.

Ultimately, make sure to think long-term, beyond Stories. Being present on social media goes beyond using a single feature like Stories. Ask yourself the following: What will my day-to-day content look like on this platform? Do I have the material and staff to ensure I’m delivering new and exciting content to my followers on a consistent basis?

We definitely recommend trying out Instagram’s new Stories feature, especially if you’ve already established a decent community of followers to share it with. Snapchat Stories are equally fun, but if you’re not already established on the platform, it may take some time for your content to reach the audience you’re hoping for.

As for us at ModSquad? We’re ensuring our Mods have the knowledge they need to engage customers appropriately and moderate these new forms of content. With our large team spread across the globe, we’ve also found that Stories on both platforms are a fantastic way to celebrate together.

Do you prefer Snapchat over Instagram, or vice versa? Perhaps you’re an avid user of both? Share your opinion in the comments below!


Blagica Bottigliero
VP, Digital Media

Aliza Rosen
Digital Strategist

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