Advantage Instagram

Snapchat v. Instagram

I want to cut right to the center of the debate that is on every social media consumer and influencer’s mind today… who is going to win this colossal war of stories between Snapchat and Instagram? People are truly underestimating the fact that Instagram may have just sunk the giant ship that is Snapchat stories.

Make no mistake, Instagram is blatantly copying Snapchat’s story platform, but Instagram really doesn’t care. And they shouldn’t care. There is nothing to hide and no embarrassment on Instagram’s behalf. They saw Snapchat stories take off and realized that their platform is perfectly suited to add a stories functionality in a more effective way than Snapchat. Here are the reasons why I actually think that Instagram Stories will, very quickly, take down Snapchat stories.

1. Built-In Audience

One of the most difficult things to do on any platform is build an audience. While users are tirelessly trying to build their Snapchat following, those same users have already developed their following on Instagram.

To test this theory, I posted the same story on both platforms yesterday. I received my average 317 views on Snapchat, while my Instagram story received 478 views. My boss, CyrilPaglino, did the same and received 3.1k views on Snap vs a whopping 4.2k views on Instagram (And this is before Instagram users have fully figured out how Instagram stories work). For influencers, this is HUGE, as there is no need to recreate a following anymore. Stories have essentially become a personal TV channel, so if a user has already built a big audience on one platform, why continue to try and grow a second platform if the same tools are offered?

2. Influencers Move in Masses

Facebook Live has very aggressively put a lot of time, money, and resources into making sure influencers use their platform. Now that Facebook owns Instagram, they can sway their current mass of influential talent on Facebook to also use Instagram for their daily means of story telling. (Sports stars LeBron James and Steph Curry have already started using Instagram stories to show glimpses of their workout regimes and vacations). This is very important, as Instagram’s user numbers will skyrocket and will allow influencers to devote all of their time and energy to one platform. If you’re an influencer and you already have 100k Instagram followers, yet you’ve been slowly building your Snap following to say 50k, don’t you see this as a sigh of relief that you can solely focus on Instagram? I think so.

3. Layout

One thing that has always been brutally difficult on Snapchat is the lack of discovery for accounts to follow. How do I find the people and brands I want to follow on Snapchat? It is extremely tough. The search and recommended follows on Instagram is absolutely flawless. It’s slick. It’s easy. It’s clean. As brands decide where to dedicate their efforts, they will go where it is easier for people to find them. Secondly, if you’re a brand on Instagram, you have to love the placement of stories right on top of the main screen as opposed to on the back page of the Snapchat app.

Instagram has also made it incredibly easy to message other users right from their stories. I’ve sent more Instagram messages in the last two days than in the last year. It’s working, and Instagram as a messenger is very real. This will be a game changer for the amount of time users spend in the app as well as for brand interaction moving forward.

4. My Life is Already on Instagram

When creating content, users want to keep it for memory’s sake, which is why Snapchat rolled out the Memories feature recently. While that is an AMAZING feature, I already have a journey I’ve shared for the past five years on Instagram. I can continue that journey, or start an entirely new one on Snapchat. One of the sad parts about all the content shared via Snapchat stories over the past few years is that unfortunately, all of that content is gone or saved in a million different places on my phone. I know where my content is on Instagram.

5. $$$

Ad Revenue! This is an entirely new way for Instagram to generate millions of dollars of ad revenue. Instagram already has brands paying big $$$ on Instagram ads. Now advertisers can focus entirely on one platform that they know will be a good ROI for them. There are more users on Instagram than Snapchat as of today, and this newest addition of stories will only increase their daily active users. The daily active user numbers are actually not even close, as Instagram doubles Snapchat’s DAU at 300m to 150m. No need to split spending between Snapchat and Instagram now, as advertisers want their dollars where the users spend more time.

But wait!

Two Q’s I have that could give Snapchat life:

1. Parents are on Instagram

I constantly hear about Snapchat being “cool” because parents aren’t using it thanks to it being too difficult for them to figure out. If you are between the ages of 20–35 and open up Snapchat Thursday-Sunday, there’s a high chance that a large majority of these videos include alcohol and partying. Will our generation feel comfortable sharing this type of content on a platform where they know family may be? Do users have a different “type” of following on Snapchat than on Instagram? Even if there is a difference, which platform gets the once in a lifetime front row video from the Adele concert? There is a choice to make when capturing unique content now.

2. Pre-Existing Behavior on the Two Platforms

Currently, Snapchat has a carefree, fun feeling to it. I don’t put much thought into what I share. A little tipsy or not the best quality? Who cares, it’s just my story! On the flipside, Instagram is perfectly curated content featuring the coolest moments of life. If a picture or video isn’t perfect, there’s no way you’re throwing it on the ‘Gram. Because of this “perfection” mindset that our “like”-obsessed society has instilled in us, do we have the capability to change our behavior on Instagram? Will we be able to post fun, party-filled, low quality type videos onto Instagram? I think this will take a shift in user mentality that may be tough in the beginning, especially for the younger demographic.

See what works, then make it perfect.

At the end of the day, Instagram was able to sit back and learn from what does and doesn’t work with Snapchat stories, and spin out their own better version. They have experience doing this, as Facebook Live is currently taking Periscope to the cleaners. Instagram has perfected a platform gaining traction and already has their community created.

Also, no need to fret about your precious dog filters or Coachella crowns — Facebook bought MSQRD for just this reason months ago. Updates to Instagram stories will be coming quickly.

Winners aren’t always the first to create something, but the ones who perfect it. Think about the athletic apparel business. Nike had great workout clothes. Under Armour came onto the scene with the first sweat wicking material to completely change the sporting apparel industry. Nike saw that this new clothing worked and was popular. They knew it was better, so they perfected the dri-fit apparel space. They did it best and now are the real winners. No matter the type of business, whoever creates the top product or best experience wins. I feel for you, MySpace! While I love Snapchat and all they’ve done to innovate and change how we interact with our phones, Instagram is where my life’s content is and who I think will win this battle. Advantage Instagram.


To keep track of my experiments, follow me on Instagram and Snapchat!

And thanks to Jeff Morris Jr., JP, Alex Avery, Ana Braskamp, Claire Uhar

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