Earlier this month, Instagram announced a new feature called Stories, which allows users to share videos that automatically expire in 24 hours.
You’re probably thinking about Snapchat, which has been doing this exact thing for the past four years. But, Instagram Stories lives on the Instagram platform, therefore giving people an “all-in-one” option for their Instagram and Snapchat fix.
In what might be the biggest rivalry between apps since Lyft versus Uber, users are now choosing to side as either Team Snapchat or Team Instagram. The decision is hard for some people who love Snapchat but are tempted by the convenience of having both tools in one place.
If you have yet to make up your mind about which app you want to remain loyal too, or wonder how Instagram Stories will impact people who make a living from either Instagram or Snapchat fame, here is what influencers from both platforms are saying:
Drew “Binsky” Goldberg is a travel blogger and influencer known as @drewbinsky on both Instagram and Snapchat. He says he wasn’t a fan of Instagram Stories, at first, because he is such an avid snapchatter.
“I realized that I can use it [Instagram Stories] to my advantage to collaborate more with brands on Instagram, like doing Instagram takeovers from a destination,” says Binsky. “But I’ve also realized that my audience is different on both IG and SC (Snapchat being younger), so I have to play to both advantages.”
Binsky says he’s on Team Snapchat and will stick to using the app more because he’s built such a large following on the platform over the last 18 months. Moreover, his target audience comes from a younger age group (16-24), which he says are the “heart and soul of snapchatters.”
“I think the only difference is that Instagram doesn’t have cool filters, and the messaging aspect is more difficult to use on Instagram (meaning lower engagement),” Binsky says. “And also, Snapchat is a LOT more fun to use with the filters and provides more room for creativity.”
Photo by Matt Lowe
“Instagram is proving to be knock off hacks,” says Matt Lowe, fan of Snapchat where he goes by the name @wolfwhisperer.
Lowe is a photographer and creative who says he’s becoming passionate about the topic.
“My first impression was ‘Wow, this is exactly like Snapchat, but they [Instagram] have more users and are more mainstream so they’re going to destroy Snapchat,” Lowe says. “Obviously, after taking a deeper look at things, Instagram’s whole thing is ease of use and basic features. Less of the Snapchat filters and that kind of thing.”
Lowe made one post on Instagram Stories and received four times the amount of views he receives on Snapchat. That reason alone is why he thinks influencers and brands will flock to Instagram, where they already have an existing audience.
“At first, I was like, ‘Hey, that’s kinda tight.’ But then I was like, ‘why would I support thievery.’ Instagram is like Kevin Durant. Snapchat is like Russell Westbrook. I side with the underdog,” Lowe says.
Though he loves and uses Instagram (but not as much as his first true love, Twitter) Lowe feels we are witnessing theft and wishes Instagram would just let Snapchat be Snapchat. However, he points out that Snapchat doesn’t really want to be seen as a social network anymore, which is why they purposefully don’t allow likes or heart metrics that other platforms use.
“They [Snapchat] want to be seen as a media and communications platform now. It just bums me out how much of a straight rip off Instagram Stories is. It’s so blatant and unoriginal,” Lowe says. “At the moment, it seems like Snapchat is still going. But, it’s all about the teens because they dictate everything. And from what I’ve heard, teens would rather stick with Snapchat, even though its UX is less friendly for the older crowd.”
Seattle-based photographer Victoria Wright (@veekster, but @veekstr on Snapchat) says she wasn’t thrilled when she first heard about Instagram Stories because it felt like a blatant copy of Snapchat and just one more social channel to keep up with. However, as she started to use it more, Wright says it feels like the early days of Instagram, one of more personal and simple aspects, but just on a larger scale with the community she has grown to love and be a part of for over four years.
Wright thinks it comes down to having a community versus an audience, explaining that she received minimal interaction on Snapchat and found it hard to find and connect with other users, which is something Instagrammers know and love all too well.
“On Instagram, people can find me several different ways; whether it’s Instagram promoting me as a suggested user, or the explorer page, or seeing my interactions on other’s images… I’m not hard to find,” describes Wright about why she has more success on Instagram. “I also use my account as a mini portfolio — sharing some of my professional work as a photographer. I’ve had many clients find me through that medium, some that have developed into commissioned Instagram campaigns.”
As a result, Wright says Instagram Stories makes more sense for her because it allows for the opportunity to share a glimpse into the project she’s working on.
“Now we can share what goes on behind the camera lens, or discover the personality of the photographer that doesn’t always resonate in their images,” Wright says. “It’s also a great business tool, giving us another option to promote projects organically as they’re happening in real time. Plus, it’s nice having both options on one app, eliminating the need to visit two different apps to get the same story.”
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Kameron Sears is a graphic designer and photographer based in Chicago who wonders if Instagram Stories will be the end of Snapchat because of how convenient it is to have these features integrated into one platform.
One of his favorite things about Instagram Stories is that he can put a face to the name of the shooters he follows on Instagram, noting that he finds it really cool to watch them go on shoots and show “before and after” edits of what they post.
Sears was never a big-time Snapchat user to begin with, stating he rarely snaps unless he's doing something unique that actually feels worth sharing with people. Plus, he never really encouraged people to follow him on Snapchat and has more success and followers on Instagram.
“I feel I'm much more likely to use Stories now because my audience reach is way bigger and a majority of them are actually interested in photography,” Sears says. “I'm more encouraged to share things like my editing process, get peoples' input on new camera gear, etc. Whereas on Snapchat, it's mostly friends who aren't exactly interested in that type of content, and I only have a handful of followers on Snapchat anyway.”
Sears points out what most people would agree with: the only thing missing from Instagram Stories is the fun filters like face swap-and that if Instagram is able to integrate those features, Snapchat is in trouble.
Vincent Carabeo, a photographer and social media lover, says he's Team Instagram because of convenience and community. Carabeo says he's involved with a community of creatives on Instagram, and that Snapchat is just a completely different experience. However, he notes that most influencers are looking at this from the perspective of creative as opposed to every day people who use either platform.
“People on Snapchat interact with people differently, so it's just a different experience depending on the type of user you are,” Carabeo says. “I can get news related stuff on Instagram if I follow those people, but right now I just follow creative types.”
Moreover, Carabeo thinks Instagram stories addresses an issue he always felt Snapchat lacked: cultivating community. Similar to Wright, he thinks Snapchat makes it too hard for people to find each other, which gives Instagram a huge advantage.
“Unless you told me your Snapchat handle, I wouldn't know who you were or how to find you,” says Carabeo. “And I mean, realistically, if I want people to know that I'm on Snapchat and follow me, I have to announce that on Instagram or Twitter.”
Carabeo also makes a valid point that it's not like Snapchat was totally original, noting that it, too, drew inspiration from other companies-something Instagram's CEO, Kevin Systrom openly admitted to. Plus, what Instagram is doing is what it has always been about: sharing instant content.
When asked if he thinks this will be the end of Snapchat, Carabeo thinks it's too soon to make that assumption.
“Obviously Instagram has taken over and it's much easier for me to follow people on there. But I'm more interested in seeing how brands will react-will they continue curating on Instagram or will they try to leverage on both? Why would a brand continue marketing on Snapchat if they have a following on Instagram? I think that will all depend on whether or not Instagram will offer the same functionalities, like geo-filters,” Carabeo says. “Give them a year and then we'll be able to decide which platform is better.”
Cyrene Quiamco is a graphic designer known for her colorful (and seriously impressive) Snapchat drawings. Quiamco, has dedicated and invested almost two years in building her following on Snapchat and says she will continue to use it because she's already developed a relationship with her audience, meaning she can't easily switch over to Instagram.
“Snapchat is my main platform and where I have the most followers,” says Quiamco. “Before Instagram introduced Stories, I had a hard time speaking Instagram's language of posting just one picture at a time to tell my narrative.”
One of the biggest advantages to using Snapchat is that it's easier to interact with people. For now, the only way to interact on someone's Instagram story is by making a direct message. But with Snapchat, Quiamco explains that her audience can send her pictures, drawings, and a video as a response to a story. This allows for a more engaged and active audience, and Quiamco likes having active participants as opposed to passive watchers.
But, Quiamco understands the advantages that Instagram offers, a big one being growth. Snapchat does not make it easy for creators and brands to grow an audience, that is, unless you have the money to invest in it.
“The main difference and advantage that Instagram Stories has on Snapchat is content and account discovery. It's just one advantage, but it's a HUGE advantage, especially for creators and brands that are struggling to grow their audience on Snapchat,” Quiamco says. “Besides being featured on the Snapchat Discover Page (which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and only select brands can be on it), it's hard to create a presence on Snapchat.”
After using both services, Quiamco says she sees both the advantages and disadvantages to using either app, which is why she's team “whichever app makes it easy for me to be creative by providing creative features and audience growth tools.”
Despite being undecided, Quiamco admits she's currently using Snapchat more than Instagram.
Similarly, food blogger Tiffany Howard, known as @ohhoneybakes on Instagram and Snapchat, understands the pros and cons for both apps.
“Instagram Stories is definitely simpler, which isn't necessarily a bad thing,” Howard says. “The main thing that attracted me to Snapchat was that it humanized people I followed on Instagram already, and it provided a less curated version of that person's life and personality. Instagram Stories is doing the same thing, but now you don't have to switch between apps to keep up with people.”
Howard loves Snapchat because it isn't followers-based, but understands the convenience factor of having everyone in one place on Instagram.
“I have more followers on Instagram and get more views on stories I post. My work is so photos-based that Instagram is really the best way for me to connect with people,” Howard says. “I try not to spend too much time on social media, but I'll likely end up just using Instagram Stories out of convenience.”
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Maggie Main is a photographer based in Boston, MA who says she has more success on Instagram, but doesn’t actively promote her Snapchat account to the public.
“My first impression was ‘wow, couldn’t you be a little more original Instagram?’ But when I saw the final product I understood,” Main says. “Snapchat is very intimate for me, I follow 99 percent fitness people and friends. But I’m starting to like IG Stories, I feel like it’s an added challenge, it shows more of someone’s real life but is more beautified than Snapchat shows.”
Main makes an interesting point, noting that Instagrammers can now show more of their daily lives without the pressure of having to post a “perfect” photo that matches their curated grid. At the same time, these influencers don’t have to give up their freedom of using social media for a true friendship purpose, which is why many people (Main included) use Snapchat.
That being said, Main will use both platforms equally, but really only uses Snapchat to connect with her actual friends, not her followers.
“Snapchat is my escape from the beautified world of social media images! But now I can use Instagram stories to have a “Snapchat” when I want to show my followers what I’m up to,” explains Main. “Because truthfully, I have very few friends who actually care about my latte art or how gorgeous this wooden cafe table is. Instagram connects me to people who share my love for imagery, travel and peaceful moments and IG stories allows me to share more of this in a less-pressured way.”
The community aspect, search and discovery tools and fact that Instagram came first (so people have greater followings there) are the main reasons influencers are finding themselves deviating (almost completely) from Snapchat. Influencers already have friends, a following and community on Instagram, so they spend the majority of their time on IG, and Stories will only keep them there longer. Likewise, people who have developed a large audience on Snapchat find that their platform works better for them.
Personally, I’ve been testing out both apps and I find myself naturally wanting to post one thing to Snapchat, and other things to Instagram Stories. But when it comes to watching and following other people stories’ I lean more towards my friends and family, which, to me, means Snapchat. On Instagram Stories, influencers showing me their day-to-day activities annoy me and I’m more inclined to skip through their story more so than a good friend’s. But, that could be due to the fact that I’m not a photographer interested in the work of other photographers.
For now, influencers and users will stay where they are comfortable and well known, but a year down the road, things will look different. That could mean Snapchat veers into becoming an online publication for media and news, whereas Instagram continues to cultivate community for creative types and amateur photographers. Or maybe it becomes a place for creatives to build community with other creatives. Only time will tell.