When Instagram launched their new format „Stories”, the uproar was great. The similarities to Snapchat’s “Stories” feature are obvious and Instagram received great critique. Nevertheless, the new format is widely used on Instagram and especially brands and companies can highly profit from the additional content. Instagram’s basic characteristics enable better storytelling than on Snapchat. Find out why you will reach wider audiences and generate more engagement with Instagram Stories than with Snapchat Stories.

Instagram’s and Snapchat’s Basic Characteristics

Though the format itself might be highly similar, the platforms are not. Indeed, Instagram and Snapchat are both image-based, the general workings and functions of the apps are different and therefore enable different kinds of content and user interaction. Additionally, the audience for your Instagram Stories is a lot larger than on Snapchat. Over 300 million people use Instagram everday, 100 million of which use Instagram Stories on a daily basis as well (meaning they watch or share their own stories). Snapchat on the other hand only has 150 million daily users, showing that Instagram Stories alone have two thirds of the audience that Snapchat has overall.

Generally speaking, users see Instagram as a platform to share polished highlighted moments of their life, while Snapchat is often used to share quick snapshots with selected people. Every image you share on Instagram will be presented in the news feed of all those who follow you. For every picture you send on Snapchat, you can choose who to send it to, therefore always reaching different audiences, assumed you don’t share each image with all your friends on Snapchat. In terms of who people follow on the two platforms, Instagram is often used to keep up with trends, to follow brands, friends and influencers. To be more exact, 68% of Instagram users regularly engage with brands on the platform. Snapchat on the other hand is mostly used to stay in touch friends and occasionally get insights into celebrities’ lives.

Snapchat lacks the traditional news feed that platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have. The content you receive on Snapchat is limited to the so-called “snaps” you receive from friends and the Snapchat Stories your friends shared. Snapchat will not present you with content from anyone you do not follow, whereas Instagram’s Explore area will feature content from other accounts you might like or are similar to those you already follow. This means, the general reach of any content shared on Snapchat is highly limited and won’t enable you to generate new followers the way Instagram will.

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When you are searching for friends, brands or accounts on Instagram you can use hashtags, their name or anything connected to them. Most of the time, Instagram will find the account you are looking for, even if you misspell the name or don’t include any special characters. Snapchat on the other hand will only enable you to find new users when you know the exact name of their account or have their Snapchat code. One little spelling difference or special character can stop you from finding the person you were looking for. This way, finding new brands on Instagram is a lot easier than finding them on Snapchat. Surely, most brands will link their social media channels to their website or include them in e-mails but generally speaking, finding new accounts is a lot harder on Snapchat than on Instagram.

Instagram’s Stories Format vs. Snapchat’s Stories Format


One definite benefit of Snapchat is the variety of filters, geotags, effects, emojis and editing tools the app offers. This way, images on Snapchat can often be more creative and unique, especially regarding private images you send to exclusive friends. Currently, Instagram’s editing options are fairly limited, focusing on the addition of text or little drawings. Although this limitation might be regarded as a disadvantage for Instagram Stories, the question is whether brands or companies want and should use the multiple filters or emojis that Snapchat offers or if the limitation is appropriate when sharing content from a business account.

Instagram Stories are placed at the top off a user’s newsfeed whereas Snapchat Stories can only be displayed when users swipe left. Of course, not every user will watch every story that is shared, regardless of the platform they are currently using. Still, chances are higher that users will at least know you shared a new image to your story on Instagram than on Snapchat. Instagram was clever enough to expand this feature to its explore section, ensuring that Stories from accounts you do not follow yet are still displayed at the top of your newsfeed. Snapchat Stories won’t reach any users that don’t follow you and will only be display in a separate section of the app.

Instagram Stories are an additional way of sharing content on Instagram, as opposed to Snapchat which solely relies on brands or companies to share stories to reach their user base. Instagram Stories can therefore complement the content you share to your regular gallery while Snapchat Stories stand alone.

When it comes to actually adding new content to your Story, Instagram is a lot more intuitive than Snapchat is. Instagram includes a small and circled “+” at the top of your feed next to the displayed stories of other users. By simply tapping the icon you can take a picture and it will automatically be published to your story. With Snapchat it’s a bit more confusing. You have to take a snapshot first, edit it to your liking and then you need to tap a small icon at the bottom of your display which will allow you to publish it to your story. Surely, once you know how to do it it’s not rocket-science but the general usability is definitely higher on Instagram than on Snapchat.

Image sources: techcrunch.com, support.snapchat.com, blog.instagram.com

Coverphoto: unsplash.com/torontoeaters