Snappers vs Grammers – the battle between the social media Stories

Whether it’s Brad vs Angelina or Real Madrid vs Barcelona, everyone loves to pick a side

And, in the world of social media influencer marketing , two big camps have started to emerge.

In one corner we have Instagram, with its beautifully curated (and, yes, filtered) glimpses into gorgeous lifestyles. In the other corner is Snapchat, where the only rule is to be as fun, goofy and free as you like.

But while it’s understandable that each platform’s fans should be hyper-loyal to their chosen brand, does it make sense for the content creators themselves to get too tribal about where they tell their stories? Maybe not.

Crunching numbers

This wouldn’t be a proper examination of either platform without some pretty enormous numbers to digest. And, while exact active user figures for any social channel seem oddly difficult to know for sure, Instagram is certainly winning the numbers game.

With around 500 million active monthly users and 300 million active daily users, the audience on Instagram is astonishing. And even though Snapchat comes nowhere near to matching these figures, their own growth is still remarkable.

In fact, with 100 million daily users and a reported 7 billion daily views, it’s little wonder that Snapchat seem to be on track to reach £1 billion in global revenue this year.

And anyway, rather than comparing two platforms with obviously strong user numbers perhaps we should spare a thought for the social media giants that are performing less well.

Twitter, on the one hand, has seen Snapchat move past them in terms of daily usage, while more and more brands are openly diverting their Twitter advertising spend into Instagram and Snapchat.

And as for poor old Vine, things look particularly bleak by comparison. A recent study by Markerly1 suggested that more than half of the platform’s top users (namely those with more than 15,000 followers) have left Vine altogether.

Real rivals?

But, while the money men at each of these massive global businesses might disagree, should we really be thinking about Instagram and Snapchat as a rivalry? From a content creator’s point of view the two platforms have very different appeal, audience and marketing roles.

For a start, Snapchat continues to be dominated by a younger market, with a reported2 70% of their active users aged under 25. And while Instagram performs pretty well in the 16-24 market too (Around 40% of their users fit this bracket3) the truth is that the two still behave very differently.

Or, are least they did…

Head-to-head

Instagram Stories has been created as a direct response to the Snapchat feature of the same name. And what surprised many users of both platforms is just how similar the new Instagram feature is to the rival that so obviously inspired it.

Just like Snapchat Stories, Instagram’s new function allows you to create and adapt that unpolished, behind-the-scenes content that audiences seemingly can’t get enough of. Of course this is still Instagram and there’s no way to add dog ears or alien faces to your images – but it still marks a significant aesthetic shift from the traditionally polished Instagram.

But what perhaps has been a bit misunderstood is the reason Instagram Stories was introduced.

The short-lived, in-the-moment nature of Snapchat’s content has clearly resonated with a younger audience, and it’s understandable that Instagram should add such a proven formula to their own platform. Those 7 billion daily views are too tempting a result to ignore.

But rather than trying to steal users away from Snapchat, it’s more likely that Instagram are hoping to satisfy their existing users who may have been intrigued by what Snapchat Stories had to offer.

And while the tools themselves are similar, the platforms they belong to remain distinctly different in terms of their capabilities, marketing potential and, broadly, audiences. Tellingly, Instagram have made a big effort to educate existing users about how Stories works, whereas much of the joy in Snapchat Stories comes from unlocking secrets and tricks you never even knew about.

And, seeing as Instagram Stories have already been adopted by everyone from NASA to GoPro to the Huffington Post, it’s quite clear that there is a huge appetite amongst Instagram brands, influencers and audiences for the disappearing content that Snapchat made so popular.

Pick a side? (Or pick a pair?)

So even if you choose to believe that Instagram are muscling in on Snapchat’s territory does this really mean that there’s only room for one of these amazing platforms in your life?

Probably not. The essence of influencer marketing remains the authentic, intimate and inspiring visual content that reaches an audience who cares – wherever they love to spend their screen time.

What Stories does provide for Instagram-loyal brands and content creators is a proven new communication tool – one that means they don’t have to take the risky step of trying to migrate a loyal following from one platform to another.

And besides, the most brilliant and influential social media content creators are the ones who have a perfect understanding of what stories their audience want to see – whichever ‘Stories’ suits them best.

  1. ‘Are Influencers Dying on The Vine?’ Markerly blog
  2. ‘Want to reach Millenials? Say hello to Snapchat.’ Emarketer, 2015
  3. DMR Instagram Statistic Report June 2016