Just 11 short months ago, Instagram announced a new feature that took many social media marketers by surprise: Instagram Stories, which both looked and felt a lot like Snapchat.

Related: How to switch your account to Instagram for Business.

Snapchat is a channel in which many brands tried to jump onto the bandwagon, but it has struggled to gain fans and followers because of the difficulty of discovering new accounts without a snap code or username.

Instagram continues to release features that mimic or mirror Snapchat, but recently—on July 5—Snapchat took a page out of the IG Stories book by allowing users to add links to their posts.

A year ago, Snapchat was the only platform that offered the unique content experience of stories, giving brands another way to reach its consumers in the channels in which they engage.

Throughout the last (almost) year, as Instagram Stories has consistently launched new features to compete with Snapchat, it has become the apparent leader for brands who already have established a following in that channel. In November, Instagram released a Stories feature that allowed verified accounts to add links through a “See More” swipe-up function, allowing brands to link to any URL without taking the user outside of the Instagram app.

Most brands see more reach and value from in Instagram Stories.

Because IG Stories was building upon an already-well-established platform with prominent brand presence, most brands see more reach with IG Stories and more value in focusing in that channel, rather than trying to build a new audience in Snapchat. However, for brands that had already dipped its toes in the Snapchat pool, it has become a struggle to differentiate content, as well as social media managers’ focus and time.

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That being said, Snapchat is still the leader in features, technology, and innovation when it comes to the story. The platform also makes it easier to search through stories, and has more brand capabilities in geofilters and lens filters, as well as opportunities within Discover.

Here’s how the two differentiate from each other, and who wins the battle of the Stories platforms.

Channel Differentiations

Snapchat is the more exclusive platform, as brands are harder to find and the follower audience is smaller.

  • Instagram is more polished, while Snapchat is more casual
  • Instagram Insights accounts for Stories metrics (for the last 14 days), whereas Snapchat has very limited analytics, and view counts expire with the story
  • Snapchat is more exclusive, as brands are harder to find in this channel and the follower audience is smaller
  • Snapchat claims that on any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year olds in the United States, but 32 percent of teens list Instagram as their most important social network, more than any other social network.
  • Snapchat boasts 166M daily active Snapchatters globally, while Instagram announced in April that 200M daily active IG Stories users

How to Differentiate Content

How Brands Can Use Snapchat

  • Behind-the-scenes looks at company HQ, what’s coming (product sneak peeks), company partnerships or sponsorships, and relaxed and casual moments that allow your brand to connect with your audience
  • Promotion or product launch announcements (driving to Snap for first access or “you heard it here first” exclusives)
  • With Snapchat being a smaller audience, it could be a good way to test content forIG Stories

 How Brands Can Use IG Stories

Instagram Stories is great for testing new content that brands may want to introduce organically in Instagram.

  • Product features, tutorials, GTL (the product tagging structure will likely always be a step ahead of Snap)
  • Test new content types that brands may want to introduce to its organic Instagram content
  • For live content, it can additionally be streamed to reach the IG audience through live Stories However, we would likely only want to proceed with IG Live, in addition to a Facebook or YouTube livestream, as IG Live disappears and does not save (However, there is a new option to share to your IG Story for 24-hours for those who missed the livestream)
  • Influencer partnerships and events, as the platform allows accounts to tag one another

Who Wins?

At the end of the day, there isn’t a clear winner, because not all brands are the same. Brands who struggle with strong visual content may not be active on Instagram, so the advantage of building on an existing audience is removed. In this instance, it may be better for that brand to launch Snapchat instead so they can still take advantage of the authentic content brands have the opportunity to create in this channel.

Snapchat will likely remain ahead of the curve with innovation and features. Instagram will likely continue to replicate many of Snapchat’s features while continuing to lead the charge in brand-friendly features to help monetize the platform.

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