Instagram Stories vs Snapchat – same same but different

16K Agency co-founder, James Towers
By 16K Agency co-founder, James Towers | 17 August 2016
16k Agency founding partner James Towers

Recently Instagram seemingly took a leaf from Melania Trump’s book, threw original thought out the door and launched Instagram Stories. Something so close to Snapchat that even the Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, admitted Snapchat “deserve all the credit.”

Snapchat’s staff took to Twitter in protest, seemingly pretty pissed that their original recipe that’s fed growth to 150 million daily users in only 4 years had been so blatantly plagiarised.

Instagram users began to play with the new Stories feature from the outset, and although seeing it as a copy from Snapchat, the feedback in the community seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Instagram’s intuitive UX and better search makes the new feature hard to hate.

Confusion sets in

Social media managers, influencers and the public all started to question the role of both platforms. Where should they post? What content should go where? Initially there has largely been a duplication of content over both Instagram Stories and Snapchat as users hedge their bets and wait to see how the dust settles over the new landscape.

Many opinions coming from the established Instagram community point to the fact that posting to Instagram Stories seems to makes more sense, often follower numbers are higher after a healthy few years head start over Snapchat.

Instagram Stories doesn’t replace Snapchat

It might seem like splitting hairs but Instagram Stories and Snapchat are very different. Audiences want different experiences from each platform and the worst thing brands and influencers could do would be to duplicate their content over both platforms.

Do your followers really want to see the same content twice on different platforms? Not a chance so it’s time to understand what people want where and give it to them. The golden rule still applies: One post never fits all on social media.

The best Instagram accounts are full of well planned, meticulously edited and painstakingly curated visual content. Brands, influencers and individuals create their own Instagram theme over time. Some of the best accounts in the world are now run by professional creatives hired to make sure that content perfectly fits the feed and delights the audience. Even amateurs have their preferred filters that help string together different moments caught over time under the same frosted hue.

So would you really want rough-cut, off brand, disappearing stories just a thumb swipe away from years of brand building? It’s like putting a titty bar next to the National Gallery. Now I’m not saying people that go to art galleries don’t visit the strippers but they do so on different days and they go to those places to seek very different experiences.

Snapchat is entertainment. It’s a not-so-serious, humorous and raw commentary, a glimpse behind the scenes, a backstage pass. It’s not made to be pretty despite the one of the most popular lenses being the flower headpiece. Snapchat exploded onto the scene because it was a platform where people (and now brands) can be less serious, less curated and be free to speak without the constant worry of brand rules or guidelines.

Each Instagram audience has been built over time. They’ve followed because they like what they see. If an account’s Instagram Stories start to resemble Snapchat content, the waters are muddled and the followers will be less likely to engage. Likewise, Snapchat is booming because it’s filling a void. People want to relax online in an environment where they can be entertained with a daily update of lenses and voice changers. Quality hooks that keep Snappers coming back each day.

Instagram Stories is a fascinating way in which brands and influencers can bring to life disappearing moments that remind their audience of just why they hit the follow button in the first place.

By James Towers, founding partner at 16K Agency– Stockholm, Sweden & Melbourne, Australia

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