Instagram Takes on Snapchat in the Battle of the Social Media Platforms

Last week Instagram launched its latest feature, which it is calling “Stories”. This blatantly mimics Snapchat’s successful Stories feature which has been running on the platform for several months. With Twitter billed to be next to jump onto the bandwagon thanks to a proposed extension to its Moments feature, 4Ps decided it was time to take a closer look.

What are Stories?

The Stories feature on both Instagram and Snapchat function in broadly the same way: users add pictures or snippets of video which are stitched together to produce a short story – hence the name. The draw to many marketers is that this feature looks and feels most like a traditional ad. The catch is that the content disappears after 24 hours meaning that investment in creation can be less, forcing brands to be more creative.

As Michael O’Shea points out, “the idea behind these ‘Stories’ is that they help to create a more rounded ‘3D image’ of a personality – be it a brand or an individual. Although Instagram already supported videos, until now there hasn’t been a fraction of the same level of character. Brands may post ‘behind the scenes’ images or clips, but for the most part they lack the same depth, honesty and personable impression that you get from informal ‘Snaps’. These ephemeral ’24 hour only’ posts are treated like spontaneous snapshots, and we get a fantastic level of modesty not seen anywhere else.”

What is the difference?

When it comes to features, the difference between the two products is little to nothing, although of course on Instagram users don’t have access to Snapchat’s addictive filters features (who doesn’t want their face turned into a slice of toast)! Other differences are pretty minor such as having a wider range of stickers and colours with which to doodle on Instagram compared to Snapchat. Instagram also offers a couple of pen sizes as well as a highlighter style tool it calls “neon” which aren’t available on Snapchat.

Many claim that the Instagram interface is more intuitive, but to a certain extent it is also matter of taste and to a certain extent, brand loyalty.

Which is best?

Since the features are so similar the main difference between Snapchat and Instagram for a marketer is the stark contrast between the reach of the platforms. Snapchat has around 150 million daily active users, which might seem like a lot but pales into insignificance compared to Instagram’s 300 million. These extra users come along with a more robust infrastructure thanks to parent company Facebook. The enhanced analytics feature in particular is a huge boon to marketers as the built in analytics features completely outstrip Snapchat’s meagre offering.

When picking the best platform for your business needs, taking into account the particular campaign aims is key. Other key factors which will factor in to determining which platform will work hardest for you include target demographics and desired audiences.

What does 4Ps think of the whole Phenomenon?

From my perspective the most important thing is to either stick to posting polished pictures on Instagram and more fun stories on Snapchat, or to ensure the stories are sufficiently different on the channels. I personally wouldn’t recommend neglecting the stories on Snapchat as it is one of the main ways to engage with audiences on the channel. While it may be tempting for brands to move all activity over onto Instagram, I think this might be a mistake, particularly for brands who are aiming for a younger audience and of course those with a techy, fast paced image.

Michael is particularly excited about the development particularly the way these channels will help personalise brands, as he says “Personally, I only follow a couple of Snapchat celebrities, including Dillon Francis, DJ Khaled, and The Dogist. I’m not necessarily involved in their brand, but I enjoy the personalities and appreciate the intimacy. This is something that I’m really hopeful will carry over onto Instagram, and I would definitely encourage my clients to embrace the personable power of the Story.”

4Ps is a SEO agency like no other. To discuss how user-driven content can help you improve loyalty and engagement for your customers, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about digital marketing and behaviour across all inbound channels. How could a content marketing strategy help your business?