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Instagram Stories VS. Snapchat Stories: What It Means for Marketers

Instagram and Snapchat are competing for the hearts, minds, fingers, and eyes of the youth.

Wow, that came out creepy. Creepy, but true. According to Snapchat’s website, 

On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States.

But, according to a recent study,

32% of US teens list Instagram as their most important social network, more than any other social network.

Yes, the race is on:

InstavsSnapAnd today, the latest and greatest gauntlet was thrown. Instagram announced Instagram Stories.

Source: Instagram Blog
Source: Instagram Blog

This feature (rolling out globally over the next few weeks on iOS and Android) adds a little ephemeral, playful panache to Instagram’s more curated format and reputation. Key features (and what they mean for marketers):

Text and Drawing Tools Available

What it means for marketers: 

  • You can now get more playful with your content without having to leave the Instagram platform, if you already have a presence there. If you aren’t active on Instagram yet or have an account but don’t post much, this feature opens an avenue for creating a unique, fresh experience on the network.
  • You will also be able to “dress up” basic content that would look pretty bland on its own, and generate more engagement. This is an excellent method of connecting with a younger audience on the Instagram platform that you haven’t been able to touch yet.
  • Instagram is letting you see how many people (and exactly which people) watch each piece of your story, so you can understand which content hits with your different target marketing personas.

Photos and Videos Disappear After 24 Hours

What it means for marketers: 

  • This feature really mimics Snapchat’s feature and primary differentiator: disappearing content. Instagram stories give you the opportunity to create micro-campaigns and social contests on Instagram, offering your followers a sense of urgency for content consumption.
  • Because they disappear after 24 hours (and don’t appear on your profile or in your feed), Instagram stories enable you to post experimental content, and then, if that content works well, roll it out on your “regular” Instagram profiles and other social accounts.

Stories from Followed Accounts Appear at the Top of User Feeds

What it means for marketers: 

  • If an Instagram user follows your brand, your account will show up with a colorful ring around it whenever you release new Instagram story content. This means it is time to aggressively increase your follower count, so that you can be top-of-feed and top-of-mind on as many user feeds as possible.
  • This feature gives your brand an unprecedented ability to get organic content in front of users, as more and more social networks become pay-to-play enterprises.
  • This feature also means that your account gets unique placement among an Instagram user’s closest friends and family members, so make sure you’re not abusing the feature by flooding feeds with low-quality content, or you’ll experience a significant amount of unfollows. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

Privacy and Flexibility Are Major

What it means for marketers: 

  • There are no Likes or public comments with Instagram stories. Instagram users can only respond by tapping and sending a private message to your account on Instagram Direct. Try posting unususal brand content that will surprise and even shock a few people, and ask for private feedback.
  • Instagram stories have flexible privacy settings, meaning you can exclude specific people from seeing your Instagram stories, even if they follow you. Chances are, this privacy feature is not one most Instagram users will target at brands. This means that the more Instagram users your brand follows, the more you will be able to view Instagram stories and gain personal insight into how your target audience utilizes Instagram and interacts with fellow Instagram users.
  • Instagram stories are flexible, meaning you can choose to feature a part of your Instagram story on your main profile if it goes over well. This gives you the chance to test content before you make it a part of your Instagram magnum opus.

How Will Your Brand Use Instagram Stories…

…and how does it measure up against Snapchat stories? Let us know on Twitter. If you use Instagram Stories in your marketing plan or are itching to try them out, be sure to track the success of your efforts with Simply Measured Social Analytics – Instagram InsightsRequest a demo here.

Simply Measured Instagram Insights
Simply Measured Social Analytics – Instagram Insights

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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