2017 is the year of the social media story. Originally created and monopolized by Snapchat, “Stories” is also a feature of Instagram (and Facebook, with little use), and is eerily similar to the Snappy original.
It’s here that I need to admit that, when Instagram originally added the Stories feature, I was flummoxed. Flabbergasted. And angry. The update came around not long after I began my first social media marketing job. I was at work when it surfaced on each person’s phone in the office, a familiar notification in the App Store. We spent the rest of that day discussing Instagram Stories off and on. How dare Instagram rip off Snapchat?! Instagram is owned by Facebook so, to us, stealing ideas from independent Snapchat just seemed wrong; I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t just use Snapchat, the home of the original story. Before I ate lunch, I posted a Snap to my story claiming my territory, promising I would never leave.
And then, slowly, I began to see what makes Instagram stories unique: the quality. I started noticing gorgeous images and videos (along with the occasional amusing Boomerang). The drawing tools are smooth and alluring, and there are more distinct filters offered to lay over images and videos. As more of my friends and favorite influencers became acquainted with the feature, the more intrigued I became. Could I dare step back on my promise to defend Snapchat until its dying day?
I was not the only one easily suaded by the aesthetically pleasing Instagram spin-off; according to TechCrunch, Snapchat users have been using the application 20-40% less since the launch of Instagram Stories. Instagram definitely hit Snapchat where it hurts.
There’s good news here. Snapchat is not dying, with upwards of 58% of Snapchat users not being reached on any other comparable platform. Additionally, a survey conducted by WhatsGoodly in April found that 78% of millennials surveyed still preferred Snapchat over Instagram stories. And brand ambassador network Heartbeat found that out of the 100,000 13-20 year olds they surveyed, 74% post more on Snapchat than Instagram. Yet, Instagram stories are gaining traction overall, with over 200 million daily users around the world.
The best news? You don’t have to choose just one.
Here’s why I love both:
- Having been a Snapchat user since 2013, I think of Snapchat as the application on my phone that most embodies its “social” label. My friends on Snapchat don’t have to look pretty, or fancy, or be doing anything particularly interesting to post to their story or send something to me privately.
- Concerts, hangouts and other social events are best placed on Snapchat for privacy, which serves as another draw for the platform. Unless your account is private, anyone can see your story on Instagram. To be friends with someone on Snapchat means both parties consented to add each other. That makes the experience more intimate and explains the relaxed vibe most users find on Snapchat.
- I head to Snapchat if I want to know what everyone’s up to tonight. I post spur-of-the-moment videos of my friends being funny, scenic shots if the weather’s nice or not, and little victories I want to brag about. It’s where my friends are.
- I’ve started appreciating Instagram only really in the past year, and it’s because of newly-developed features such as the optimization for high-quality images. When Instagram updated the design of their entire interface about a year ago, every element was intentional in directing the focus of users to the images.
- The Explore feature works to create a community feel by offering a stream of posts by accounts you don’t follow. It allows users to view similar posts to ones they’ve already liked.
- Instagram allows you to discover new companies, stores, retailers, restaurants, and events to interact with socially.
- I use Instagram stories when I’m out to brunch with my friends. I post when the angles line up in my office, the sun hits just right, a tree or flower looks particularly alluring, or my favorite local shop has a cool display. It’s where I can build my social clout and community.
Unlikely as it may seem, many young people like myself still find Instagram and Snapchat stories relevant. Next time someone tells you they use both Instagram and Snapchat, know it’s a true story.