Should you abandon Snapchat for Instagram Stories?
Aug 16, 2016
Everyone’s talking about it.
Instagram Stories appeared out of thin air and rocked the Twittersphere – and if you’re at an agency like me, it probably shook up your content planning quite a bit.
Through my very academic research on the topic, I landed on Perez Hilton’s website. Is he a marketing and user experience expert? Absolutely not. But he is an influencer that pays high attention to other influencers – and yes, he’s a guilty pleasure of mine.
The post I landed on was titled, “Internet Freaks Out After Instagram CEO Basically Admits To Ripping Off Snapchat For New Feature ‘Stories’ — What’s YOUR Take??” At the end of this very Buzzfeed-style article, 73% of readers said they believe Instagram ripped off Snapchat.
What’s my take? Good question.
Okay, okay, I’ll admit it – I wasn’t even interested in the Instagram Stories commotion until I heard Perez Hilton talking about it on his podcast with Chris Booker. Considering Perez’s life is social media, he said he went into a state of panic thinking about the extra workload. Chris Booker on the other hand, being a radio/TV personality, said he couldn’t care less. He claimed this didn’t effect his work or personal life whatsoever.
Do I care that Instagram basically stole Snapchat’s story idea? No, not really. Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, explained it best in a recent interview with Tech Crunch:
“When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it. Facebook invented feed, LinkedIn took on feed, Twitter took on feed, Instagram took on feed, and they all feel very different now and they serve very different purposes. But no one looks down at someone for adopting something that is so obviously great for presenting a certain type of information. Innovation happens in the Valley, and people invent formats, and that’s great. And then what you see is those formats proliferate.”
The real question is whether you should move your planned stories over to Instagram and abandon Snapchat.
Chances are, you have more followers and engagement on Instagram – so why struggle with posting two stories while trying to build a Snapchat following?
Let’s be real, I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, either. On my personal accounts, I’ve noticed I have more views on Instagram than on Snapchat – but maybe that’s because I have significantly more followers on Instagram.
As part of the team running the Centerline social media channels, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Centerline account would reflect the same results.
With a fun national holiday coming up – National Book Lovers’ Day – we saw the perfect opportunity to put Instagram and Snapchat to the test.
We set up a specific shot list of what we wanted to capture and when we wanted to post photos. The rule was to publish the exact same content at the exact same time to both channels – plus, no extra promotion on our other social channels until halfway through the experiment.
Considering we publish content to Instagram and Snapchat roughly every day already, we went into our test with a few expectations:
- Typically, our Snapchat stories have a slight drop in viewings about halfway through. We predicted this was destined to happen with Instagram Stories as well.
- We have about double the followers on Instagram than on Snapchat, so we figured we would have much more engagement (views and messages) on our Instagram story.
- After hearing all this talk about Instagram being a copycat, we expected the Instagram story features to perfectly mirror Snapchat.
Starting around 10:00 AM, I ran into my first issue with Instagram stories. The planned post was simple: a picture of our little office library with overlaying text saying “Happy #NationalBookLoversDay!”
On Snapchat, this was a piece of cake. We took a picture, typed in the text, and added a book emoji to top it off. On Instagram, however, the text had forced line breaks in odd places and I only had the option to add an emoji within this text box.
Additionally, we discovered that you could not set your own timer for each post on Instagram Stories – the default time is five seconds for static images, whereas on Snapchat, you can choose a time between one and ten seconds
We chugged along, posting a mix of static photos, call out text, and videos one to two times per hour. Throughout the day, we made the following discoveries:
- Snapchat’s character count limit is smaller than Instagram’s.
- There is no “Memories” feature on Instagram Stories, so we couldn’t display pre-made graphics in a nice way – versus Snapchat, you can upload from your phone’s photo album. On the other hand, Snapchat does not always display everything in your phone’s photo album.
- With Instagram, you don’t have the option to mute the sound on your videos. However, using this feature while editing a story on Snapchat backfired as we accidentally posted a video without sound.
- At the end of our feed, we directed our audience to check out a blog post featuring a few Centerliners favorite books. With Instagram, we could put the link right at the top of our profile for viewers to click on as they exited our story. With Snapchat, we had no way of giving users a way to complete this call to action.
Ultimately, Instagram Stories has less add-ons and features (at this moment in time) – no outrageous filters, stickers, or video editing options. But Snapchat lacks a “home page” or profile for you to host links and other permanent posts. The most complicated part is Instagram’s algorithm for Stories. While Snapchat lists stories in reverse-chronological order, Instagram orders them by who you interact with most not only on their platform but also on Facebook. For Centerline, this means that our Instagram Stories will pop up on the profile of users we already know – and maybe not the users we want to introduce ourselves to.
As previously mentioned, we have about double the followers on Instagram than on Snapchat; however, our Views to Followers ratio was almost the same on both channels. While Snapchat’s viewership appeared to be lower in the first few minutes of posting, it seems as though the views increased the longer the content was up. Does this tell us that our audience checks Snapchat at the end of the day rather than as it is posted?
In contrast, our Instagram Story posts had high viewership right away, and more of a drop off as the day went on. Snapchat’s drop-off rate in views was only 28%, while Instagram’s was 51%. As far as engagement goes, we had one direct message in response to our Instagram Story but no messages on Snapchat. And, ultimately, we didn’t gain new followers on either channel.
So, should you abandon Snapchat for Instagram Stories?