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Snapchat versus Instagram: The war of the Stories

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Simon Cooper manages the Snapchat offering of That Lot.

You know the story. Mean old Instagram stole poor little Snapchat’s Stories leaving Twitter enraged and Facebook to simply shrug its shoulders and pretend it had nothing to do with it. Just as Snapchat was establishing itself as an exciting social media platform worthy of mainstream attention, Instagram snuck behind a filter and nicked the very thing that made it so attractive to brands looking to connect with younger audiences. It was an audacious move.

But then again, it was probably to be expected. Stories was a game-changer for Snapchat. It allowed brands, producers and people not sending pictures of their genitals to get their head around ‘the point’ of it. You could tell a chronological story in a way that you couldn’t on any other platform. Through a combination of instant video, pictures, filters, text, emojis and bespoke graphics you could tell your story in a fun, exciting and instant way.

For brands, Stories was the reason they had started to take Snapchat seriously but for many punters who thought the dog-face filter was the reason they loved Snapchat it came as a surprise that they were so angry that Instagram stole Stories. Yes, filters and face-swaps were fun, but being able to tell the story of your day in your way is the real reason people loved Snapchat.

So now we have two social media platforms that allow you to instantly tell your story in almost exactly the same way. Crucially however, there are differences and it is these differences that mean Instagram’s theft is a good thing for brands and punters alike. Instagram is polished and professional, Snapchat is fun and cheeky. Snapchat has a host of filters, colours and playful features, whereas you can include more text and use more polished pens and brushes in Instagram. But these differences are just material.

The main difference comes down to how you find people. You can instantly find anyone you want on Instagram - a complete contrast to Snapchat where you have actively seek out somebody’s Snapcode or trawl through google to find their username. Instagram is open and easy. It’s the acceptable face of social media. Snapchat is mysterious and renegade. The cool kid at the social media party who will chat to you if you put in a bit of effort. And this is the reason some people will gravitate to Instagram stories and some people to Snapchat. Some people and brands are happy on Instagram. They don’t need a new platform to play with. They have a brand that fits naturally on Instagram and an audience or group of friends who expect to find them there. It just happens that they can now tell stories in the same way that people on Snapchat can.

All this is great for brands. You can now tell your story on whatever platform suits your audience best and we’re already seeing celebrities experimenting with their relationship with the two platforms. For example, Lethal Bizzle has come out to slam Instagram stories and assure his massive Snapchat audience that he will be staying right where he is. In contrast, Fearne Cotton whose brand fits naturally on Instagram has started posting Instagram stories. You wouldn’t find her posting a story on Snapchat. It feels like ‘Stories Tribes’ are developing and for anyone working in Social Media, that’s quite exciting.

However, there is another way. Radio 1’s Greg James is a presenter who naturally straddles the Snapchat/Instagram divide. He clearly loves the creativity Snapchat facilitates and frequently posts stories and face-filter comedy sketches that couldn’t be made with Instagram. However, he also makes sure he posts snippets of his stories on Instagram. This includes posts where he points his Instagram followers to his Snapchat to watch the full story. It’s a canny move - in general Instagram will attract a bigger audience but Snapchat might attract a more passionate and engaged audience. If you can be bothered to go from Instagram where you’ve seen selected highlights and polished pictures over to Snapchat, you’re a true fan who deserves the full story.

Simon Cooper manages the Snapchat offering of social creative agency That Lot

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