We live in an era where we have nothing but choice on where to publish our content. However, this isn’t always a good thing for businesses. It’s difficult to know which social media platform is best to invest your time in, especially since now a lot of them are adapting extremely similar functions.
Snapchat, Instagram and now Facebook offer the ability to post 10 second long videos and photos that disappear off of your feeds after 24 hours. The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago – it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before. These “Story” features share what’s going on “in the moment” and have become extremely popular due to our short attention spans. You have up to 10 seconds to be as creative as possible, entice customers and express your brand with fun face detecting filters, drawing features, stickers and written captions.
Snapchat was the original innovator, but with Instagram and Facebook’s huge amount of daily users, just which platform’s Stories is more effective for your business? I’ve taken a closer look into the pros and cons for each to make it easier for you to see past the similarities. Let the battle begin…
Snapchat; the company that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social media giant Facebook, wanted to buy in 2014 since their advanced “Stories” feature saw their growth in users catapult. Its new way of communication through images, selfies and short video took the social world by storm. Digital marketers also got in on the action to promote the fun side of their brands in these short clips. But what are the pros and cons of staying loyal to the original Stories since the copycat features have emerged on Instagram and Facebook?
- 150 million daily active views: less than Instagram and Facebook, but still a huge social platform.
- Popular amongst Millennials and Generation Z: even better if this is your direct target audience.
- Better face recognition filters than Instagram and Facebook: since they’ve been around for the longest, their technical features are still ahead of the game.
- Produce Live Stories of events in your area: automatically generated when nearby. You can even create your own special filter if you contact Snapchat; for e.g. if you were looking to put on an event.
- Memories feature: allows you to post an old photo. Instagram and Facebook only allow you to post a photo taken in the past 24 hours.
- Geo-filters: a fun feature where every town/city/public place you’re in has its own unique filters.
- Discover newsreel: a popular feature where publications post articles on the latest news. A lot of people check it out for their morning updates and can see your story along the way.
- Discoverability not that great: a user has to directly add your handle/QR Code in order to see your profile. This means you’ll have to promote yourself via other social media channels.
- Will need to build a new following: some businesses may not see the point when they can reach their audience through a platform they’re already (a) familiar with (b) have a big following with.
- Less “professional”: can be perceived as a lot sillier and quality is less crisp than that on Instagram. But, this could work as a pro, depending on your brand ethos, target audience, and how you want to come across.
- An increase in pop up ads: this could be off putting for users as they seek to use Instagram or Facebook instead.
- Fall in users: since Instagram launched its Stories feature, Snapchat’s users have dipped.
Since Snapchat has taken a dip in users, the stats could be proving quite damaging for them. However, there still are loyal followers of the app. As a lot of businesses have also taken the trip over to Instagram, people could begin to use Snapchat more with their friends than bothering to add businesses if they’re already on Instagram/Facebook.
Instagram was the first app to clone Snapchat’s Stories feature in 2016. It automatically appears at the top of everyone’s original Instagram feed where you can see the icons of everyone you follow – in the similar circular Snapchat appearance. Although skeptical at the beginning, users are gradually becoming more accepting of the function with both business and personal accounts making an increase use of it.
- 600 million daily active users: a considerable amount more than Snapchat’s.
- 200 million of them using Stories daily
- Great discoverability: “suggestions for you” feature fantastic for marketers. Can now be found more easily by new potential customers.
- No friend requests required: as soon as you follow someone’s Instagram account, their Stories will appear. If you already have a big following, this is a big positive.
- You can add links: All users are given the option of tagging other Instagram user in their posts, and verified users have the ability to link Stories to outside content – features not available on Snapchat or Facebook.
- Can caption posts to include hashtags
- Better drawing technology: In comparison to Snapchat, the drawing feature in Stories steadies your handwriting to make it look neater.
- “Go live” option: brilliant function on Stories to record live allowing your followers to interact via a comment section.
- Loved by a wider demographic: Instagram sits firmly in the top three of almost all of the most important demographics.
- Can be seen as gimmicky: Although popular with Millennials, a lot of people are on Instagram for beautiful imagery, so Stories could seem gimmicky.
- Face filters not as broad as Snapchat: although this might not be a problem for most.
- Must be verified for the “swipe up” feature: to include direct links to other websites in your Stories, which could be frustrating for smaller businesses.
- Weak on engagement: Instagram noted that the average user only sees 30% of the posts in their feed on a given day.
- Algorithm changes: Instagram now organises your feed by its own formula of “posts you’d most likely want to see” through how you interact on the app rather than chronologically. This unfortunately means a few people are missing out on seeing certain posts/stories.
The technology has been improving since its launch last year and I’m sure the filters will get better overtime. Engagement also looks likely to grow as time goes by as well.
In March 2017, Facebook decided it was their turn to use Stories in an attempt to keep up with the new trend. People are still taking a while to get used to the new app update, only just getting over the fact that Instagram had already stolen Snapchat’s idea. However, could Facebook have the potential to exceed both Snapchat and Instagram (even though they own Instagram) in popularity of their Stories, due to their billions of daily active users?
- 23 billion daily active users: and counting! More than Snapchat and Instagram combined.
- Older generation usage is growing: your target audience? Great!
- Can be seen as “lame” to younger generation: a lot of their family is on it and long lost friends from school. Could take them a while to come round to the idea, if at all…
- Older generation not as familiar with Stories: they’re not as active on Snapchat/Instagram, so they may not engage with Facebook Stories if they don’t understand the feature.
- Decline in user-generated content: the sharing of original, user-generated content such as statuses and images declined to 21% between mid-2015 and mid-2016. At the same time, sharing of news articles and other outside links increased, so people are using Facebook to share content rather than create it.
Facebook Stories could progress if it however, Instagram Stories is growing and people are now getting used to it, so why is it so different with Facebook? I think Facebook will need to try to do some convincing and introduce some better features for all generations to be on board.
Taking stats into consideration with discoverability and amount of users… Instagram is the winner! If you’ve already built up a following on Instagram, then you’ve already got a target audience to showcase your Stories to. It’s easier to provide links and be more engaging with your audience with things like the “Go Live” feature.
Since Facebook has been made available for business pages, I still haven’t seen a noticeable spike in usage. I don’t think it’s fair to judge as of yet, but it could potentially take off in the future? We’ll have to wait and watch…
But should you shun Snapchat? I don’t think so just yet. To get the most from your efforts, why not use each for different goals in order to take advantage of what makes them unique? Use the social media platform that will reflect your audience and represent YOU the best!
Still don’t know your doggy-filter from your geo-filter? Then get in touch via this contact form to find out how I can help you with your social media.