Ok folks, let’s talk about it- The Great Debate.
Should you be focusing on SnapChat, or Instagram Stories for your business?!
Both? Neither? HALP!!
Now, I certainly have an opinion. But in order to better understand my personal position on the subject- let’s begin with a little history…
Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed, (and worked with), many entrepreneurs who questioned whether or not they needed to represent their brand on SnapChat. Although SnapChat has been around since 2011, I believe it was the news of the upcoming Instagram algorithm that spawned much of the new interest in using the platform for marketing.
As Instagram began changing in April of 2016, many business owners became nervous about how those changes would affect their current strategies, so they began looking for something new.
Others were simply hoping to expand their social media arsenal + widen their reach. And, because of SnapChat’s firm grasp on the younger demographic, (the core user is between the ages of 13-25), it seemed like the next logical step— get on SnapChat to attract the millennial + Generation Z audience.
SnapChat also reached 100 million users in 2016- with those users spending 25-30 minutes per day on the platform. People were certainly taking notice of it’s rise to top, and SnapChat was proving that it was ready to play in the big leagues with Twitter, Facebook + Instagram.
Personally, I love SnapChat as a platform + began using it as a business marketing tool a little over a year ago. In 2015, I wrote THIS POST on how business owners could leverage SnapChat to grow their brands.
With the addition of SnapChat’s stories feature, as well as the ability to use lenses, geo-filters, and a plethora of other new advertising capabilities, it was quickly becoming one of my favorite platforms. I had plans for it in my own marketing strategy + I even began to migrate most of my clients over to SnapChat.
And then, in August of 2016— everything changed. Instagram announced it’s newest feature, Instagram Stories, and the whole world began to buzz about this carbon copy of SnapChat’s popular platform.
Instagram admits that it’s new Stories feature is 100% “inspired by” SnapChat. And, although it’s still very simple in comparison, just 2 months after Instagram launched it’s own version of Stories, it reached over 100 million daily active users… the same number of users that it’s taken SnapChat five years to reach.
And so, that brings us back to the original question… SnapChat or Instagram Stories?
While I’m clearly not in a position to give you a firm “Yay” or “Nay” on using either platform for your specific business—(there are many factors to consider when making that decision)— what I can do is provide you with my own comparison of one platform versus the other, as it pertains to marketing a business.
So… let’s compare, shall we?!
1A. SNAPCHAT IS FUN + THERE IS NO “STATUS”
What made SnapChat so appealing to millennials when it came on the scene, was the way in which you shared content. The platform does allow for a more authentic + “real” experience, compared to that of scrolling through, say— your typical Instagram feed.
Rather than “needing” to post a perfectly styled photo on Instagram, users can use SnapChat to snap a photo or video, then add text or draw on a photo, swipe across the screen to add geo-filters or fun lenses, or even edit video to move faster, or in reverse. The platform let’s you get really creative. And, because everything disappears within 24 hours, it takes away the pressure for perfection.
Additionally there is no measuring system or “status” that comes with seeing a user’s number of followers, likes or comments. There is nothing visible on SnapChat to compare yourself to others. So, for a generation that admittedly removes photos from Instagram if they don’t receive enough likes, this is a huge bonus.
1B. INSTAGRAM STORIES ARE FUN TOO — JUST NOT A UNIQUE CONCEPT
Instagram knows why the younger audience was gravitating toward SnapChat, (for all of the above mentioned reasons), which is why Facebook tried to acquire the company for $3 billion. When that didn’t happen, the platform decided to create it’s own version with the same name.
And, although Instagram Stories currently lacks video editing, stickers, lenses + geo-filters, the same principles of sharing real, raw, + ephemeral content that vanishes within 24 hours, still apply.
Plus, I have a feeling that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg on the features that will be offered within Instagram Stories.
The one thing Insta-Stories does do better than SnapChat in this capacity, (that I believe makes it really valuable to a business), is it allows you to add in content from the last 24 hours from your camera roll. This gives businesses a chance to pre-make content on other devices, then edit it + add it into their Instagram stories.
And yes, although SnapChat allows you to add content from your camera roll as well, it puts a white frame around any outside content + tells viewers it’s from your camera roll, which makes it stand out from the rest of your story. It’s simply not as appealing visually + can be quite jarring when viewing within a story.
You can see this in the example below. When adding photo album content into an Instagram story- the content will flow into the story + be seamless. SnapChat adds a white frame around content not created within the app, which tells viewers it was imported from your camera roll.
2A. SNAPCHAT HAS UNIQUE ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES
Larger companies with big advertising budgets can create custom lenses for Snapchat users to put on their faces when creating a Story. And the “little guy” has the option to create custom geo-filters, which start at only $5. This is great, because there is an option for both big corporations + small businesses to put their messages in front of the SC audience.
Brands can use geo-filters on SnapChat for special events and promotions, or create custom lenses that users will actually add into their stories. There are also advertisements played in between + at the end of stories.
2B. INSTAGRAM HAS ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES TOO… BUT NOT WITHIN STORIES (yet)...
Instagram allows those who have a business profile to boost posts from within the app to a larger audience, as well as to create Instagram sponsored ads from within the Facebook Ads Manager.
Instagram currently does not interrupt viewing stories with any ads. At this time, ads are limited to scrolling through the regular Instagram feed.
3A. SNAPCHAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO FIND / DISCOVER USERS
SnapChat has always prided itself on being a little mysterious. Essentially, (without a 3rd party platform), the only way to add someone + follow their stories is to already know their username, or to have access to their special SnapCode.
This means that businesses who are trying to grow their audience on SC need to promote that they are on the platform via their other social media profiles. This is why you’ll often see a business’ SnapChat username in their Instagram or Twitter bio, or why they share their code on their website, marketing materials, or even their receipts.
This is a huge setback. You basically have to draw your customers a map. This also means that you’re simply migrating people who already know about your business somewhere else— you’re simply asking that your current audience follow you on a new platform.
The app isn’t designed to allow those not already familiar with you to find you. Discovery is simply not an option on SnapChat. And, if you can’t build an audience, what’s the point?
3B. INSTAGRAM IS STILL INSTAGRAM… MAKING DISCOVERY SIMPLER.
Truth be told, this is the main reason I eventually decided that I was going to concentrate more of my business marketing efforts on Instagram Stories versus SnapChat. The same is true for that of my clients.
Like many businesses, my clients + I have already spent a lot of time growing a following on Instagram. And algorithm aside— with hashtags, profile tagging options + the “Explore” page, we simply stand a better chance at being found by a potential customer on Instagram, than we do on SnapChat. Starting completely over on a social platform that wasn’t designed for growing a following just doesn’t make a ton of sense— especially now that there is a nearly identical option available, with all of the benefits of Instagram.
Unless you specify in your preferences, your stories on Instagram can be viewed by anyone who happens to come across your profile. Unlike with SnapChat, users don’t need to opt in to follow you in order to view your stories.
Plus Instagram recently added stories to the Explore feed, so now stories by people you don't follow are listed at the very top of your Explore tab.
This means that in addition to photos + video suggestions, the platform will now show you suggested stories to watch. If you are a business who is creating epic stories— and your current audience is watching + engaging— there is a really good chance that those stories could end up in the Explore feed of people who aren’t yet following you.
This is obviously better for businesses, because anything you post to stories has the potential to be seen by a completely new + relevant audience.
This example shows the Explore feed on Instagram, with suggested stories being shown at the very top, while the SnapChat Discover feed is simply news and media coverage, with no option to discover new users.
MY FINAL POINT :
Before I wrote this post, I wanted to test whether or not my current Instagram followers were even engaging with my stories. So I decided to do an experiment. I created a story first in SnapChat. After posting it there, I took the exact same story + added it to my Instagram stories.
You can see that I more than doubled my views on Instagram versus Snapchat.
It clearly makes more sense for me to use Instagram stories over SnapChat, because that’s where my most engaged audience is. More people follow me there, and more interactions happen for my business on Instagram.
What about you?!
Maybe you’ve decided that Instagram stories is right for your business too, but now you’re wondering how to actually create compelling visual campaigns that drive real results?!
Tell Your Insta-Story is an interactive workbook that walks you through the entire process of developing a unique Instagram story, one that resonates with your target audience + encourages them to take action.
Using your Instagram Stories to build on your Know-Like-Trust factor is a given, but how do you use your story to grow your email list, sell your products, or book new clients?
After completing this workbook + studying the real life video examples inside, you’ll be on your way to planning + creating more intentional+ strategic stories; stories that will help you to grow your business in a real + authentic way!!