Story wars: Instagram vs. Snapchat

By Jessica Berger

Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA)

Kassel, Hesse, Germany


Instagram Stories versus Snapchat: This is probably the social media battle of the year.

When Instagram launched its Stories feature in August 2016, there was already an outcry heard throughout the media business. It was clear Instagram would be a direct competitor to Snapchat. After all, don’t forget Mark Zuckerberg offered US$3 billion for Snapchat in 2013, but Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel didn’t consider acquisition.

How did the companies develop in 2017? What’s the favourite app among users? Who is doing better? Let’s have a look at the battle.

Round 1: The emergence

Snapchat (founded in 2011) wins the first round because of its creativity. With these photos and short videos (called snaps), the company had a brilliant idea and brought social media to another level. Users could share their snaps with filters, text, and stickers to create a story — and the posts vanish after 24 hours. A novelty!

Furthermore, it established vertical videos. Snapchat created a new, authentic, and immediate form of storytelling first, and Instagram cloned the app with its features five years later.

Even today, Snapchat has great ideas and features, such as its new 3-D bitmojis:

Round 2: Number of users

Snapchat has 173 million daily active users. Users spend around half an hour on the app per day. Instagram Stories has 250+ million daily actives (and there are 400+ million daily actives on Instagram in general). People spend about 20 minutes per day on the app.

Anyone who thinks Snapchat is hotter for young people is wrong. Both apps are equally beloved by teenagers and young adults.

Snapchat has existed since 2011, and Instagram Stories was launched 2016. In the beginning, people just smiled about Instagram’s clone. But it rapidly became a serious competitor. Instagram Stories is now a fixed component for app users, and more and more people are using it.

“Stories has quickly become an important part of the Instagram experience,” according to Instagram. Throughout the last year, Instagram has launched more and more features within Stories that people know from Snapchat such as face filters, geo stickers, seasonal stickers, and so on.

Instagram Stories is more popular than Snapchat, so Instagram wins round two in the battle.

Instagram Stories is outperforming Snapchat in regard to daily active users.
Instagram Stories is outperforming Snapchat in regard to daily active users.

Round 3: Handling and user experience

Many people have problems understanding how Snapchat works. The operation of the app is not intuitive, and people have to learn how to create and use snaps. Instagram’s interface is easier to handle.

Another factor related to Instagram’s success is that users flocked from Snapchat to Instagram Stories because Instagram was already tied to their current network (it has 700+ million monthly actives). Users want it to be as simple as possible and don’t want to use dozen of apps. Instagram also wins this round.

Round 4: Brand awareness

Instagram seems to be better for brands and influencers. The searchability component plays an important role: If you want to add someone on Snapchat, you have to know his exact user name and there’s no search feature within the app.

On Instagram, you can search by name, hashtags, and geographic locations. Brands and influencers are more visible on Instagram.

Another point is that you don’t know how many followers you have on Snapchat. You only know how many people saw your story in 24 hours. This is especially bad for sponsored content.

A recent article by Bloomberg summed up the situation: “Snapchat’s Influencers Are Fleeing to Instagram for Money.” And according to a report from Adweek, companies that use Instagram Stories as well as Snapchat use Instagram Stories twice as often as Snapchat. So both private users and brands are discovering Instagram Stories.

At the beginning of the year it was not clear who would win the story battle, but it was clear people love this kind of first-person storytelling! That Instagram Stories would be highly successful surprised many.

So, if we now have a look at the battle between Snapchat and Instagram, we have a clear winner and it is — drum roll — Instagram Stories. Congratulations!

About Jessica Berger

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