Instagram is eating Snapchat’s lunch because your audience is lazy

Humans are inherently lazy. We like to consume art other people have created, rather than go to the effort of creating something ourselves.

This simple fact is why Instagram is eating Snapchat’s lunch and will continue to do so. Instagram makes it easy to just sit and consume, while Snapchat wants you to create and makes you work to consume.

Compare the UIs of both products and you can see this is intentional. Snapchat presents you with the camera’s view of whatever you’re facing. It’s begging you to take an image or video and share it with the world. If you want to see what other people are doing — well you’re not embracing what Snap wants you to do and so you need to put in extra work.

It’s built for creators.

Instagram meanwhile, makes it as easy as possible for you to consume other people’s content. The first thing you see is a scrolling list of stories and then you can endlessly scroll through photos and videos. Run out? Well why not see what your friends are consuming or what’s popular right now.

It’s built for consumers.

There’s no guilt or shame or attempts to mug you into creating content. If you want to, you can. If not, well someone else probably has.

But, you say, people need to create content or Instagram’s model is worthless. Well sure, but it only needs a tiny minority to create content for this to work. Back in 2012, we used to explain to clients that 90% of their followers would be lurkers. This group would never post anything and would just follow what other people were talking about. The remaining 10% were the creative types, who the internet is built around.

Those 10% are Snapchat’s life blood. But even they are migrating — they know their audience want to see their content with minimal effort and so are embracing Instagram. And with that migration we can see Snapchat’s numbers declining , research by Tech Crunch shows off a range of figures for this, but one thing is clear. Instagram is winning.

And it’s not doing it by being innovative — it’s doing it by enabling the consumers to do what they want to do. They can offer the creators nearly everything Snapchat can, and they can offer everything else something priceless — the ability to be lazy.

Their are signs this is changing with the younger demographic — who appear increasingly willing to share snapshots of their lives through Stories. But these are transient and lack loyalty — they’re not going to Instagram because it offers them better creative features. They’re going because their friends are going there and they want to see what they’re talking about. Even creators want to consume.

There’s a lesson in here for everyone working in comms in one form or another. Your audience are lazy. Don’t make them work hard.

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