By @TheMarkDalton

Who said that using social media for business was going to be easy? Some of us were starting to get used to the idea of using Snapchat for branding. Then Instagram rolls up and launches their stories platform to the world, one which nobody saw coming at the time. So where should your content be now?

Some people debate the pros and cons of each platform. The reality is you can have both if you want to, the audiences are not quite the same on each platform and Snapchat right now will still pull in a younger demographic than Instagram if that is what you are aiming for.

However, since launching late last year, Instagram has seen stories skyrocket in growth and now there are more than 150 million daily story users which is not far off from where Snapchat is right now. Instagram is gaining ground fast and they are more brand friendly with build in analytics and the ability to add URL links to stories.

Many of the influencers I have seen joining Snapchat over the past year have gravitated to Instagram stories and while I personally still use Snapchat, I have also gone the same way. I prefer the Instagram story experience to the Snapchat one right now. Both are important but if you have limited time and resources you ideally need to focus on one place for storytelling of this nature.

If that is the case, here is why I would go with Instagram stories over Snapchat.

A much larger and more diverse audience

When released in 2013, Snapchat stories was completely new. There was nothing like it on the market but Snapchat left it virtually unchanged. Where Snapchat did have an edge and still do have an edge is the ability to change and add new features quickly on the fly.

Instagram stories is exactly what Snapchat needed to do themselves, a more refined and polished product which caters to a more diverse group. While Snapchat won a generation of teens, they then made no effort to pull other age groups into the platform.

The demographic has changed on Snapchat slowly because that is what happens when a platform wins over a generation of teens, everyone else gets pulled down into it with them over time. Snapchat didn’t make any effort to go out and appeal to that new audience though, instead the people came to them.

Instagram is far more diverse in both age and in the split of male and female users. Instagram also has a far superior reach at the moment, 20% of internet users are on Instagram. It has 500 million monthly active users and 300 million are daily active users with 150 million daily stories users.

While Snapchat has had a meteoric rise and continues to grow, they currently have just over 100 million daily users.

Instagram stories can handle the basics and more

Instagram clearly needs to develop and grow their story platform. This will no doubt be just the start and there are things on Snapchat you can’t get on Instagram such as geo-filters and a massive range of stickers as well as native bitmoji integration.

Instagram does have an advantage in that it has both the feed and the story platform. Snapchat dooms all content to a 24 hour shelf life and that of course has its downsides to it.

Instagram stories have the same 24 hour shelf life but there is also the permanent feed where content lives well after 24 hours. That gives marketers a chance to use targeting to specific audiences. If a story has success on Instagram then marketers can save it and upload to the main Instagram feed where it will continue to live.

By having both stories and a permanent feed with high quality photos, Snapchat really is giving you the best of both worlds, something which Snapchat does not currently provide.

Instagram stories carries all the basics that Snapchat does from photo to video, some filters and the ability to add text or doodle over an image and stickers on Instagram are giving a new little spin on filters. I am confident that Instagram will build on this functionality over time and may start incorporating standard geo-filters of their own in the future as well as enhancements that brands will appreciate which Snapchat doesn’t provide.

Instagram will appeal to a lot more people simply because they know it

There has been a lot of skeptical looks since I started talking about Snapchat early last year as a business and marketing tool. Snapchat’s biggest problem right now is not what Instagram is doing, their biggest problem is themselves.

When Snapchat was new, it was used at first by teens to send sexually charged messages to each other. Simple facts, when the app was first released that was one of the predominant users. Snapchat had to work on ironing out the creases and they have done well to flip into a more mature yet fun setting.

Parents, teachers and so on may not be able to understand a youth-centric Snapchat but they will more than likely be able to navigate Instagram. The appeal is larger simply because the audience is bigger and more diverse so for the digital marketers out there, how can you use one and not the other?

You can have and use both

Instagram is not going to kill Snapchat, at least not right now or anytime soon, there may be an intense battle to play out here though. Both platforms have benefits and both platforms have great potential. The best bet right now is to dip your toe into both of them and see what gives you better results.

You should go where the user attention is, always. If you don’t move with user attention then eventually you will get left behind. Look at the platform and the demographic, don’t write off younger demographics either. They are potentially your future customers so here is your chance to get in there and grab them early.

If you are hardcore Snapchat now, you don’t need to abandon it completely, in fact I wouldn’t recommend doing that at all but you should be looking at how valuable Instagram could be for you alongside Snapchat.

Time!

Yep, I agree. It is hard work, yes it is going to be a lot of effort but believe me, you have time. We all have more time, trust me, time is not the issue here. Do you have to do it? No. Is there a benefit in doing it? Absolutely, this is brand building 101 at is core.

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