By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about Instagram Stories – you can post photos or videos to your “story” on Instagram and they will stay there for 24 hours for your followers to watch. Sound familiar? It’s because Instagram took this idea directly from Snapchat and used it as their own.
I’ve heard all the arguments about why this is stupid: they shouldn’t rip off Snapchat like this; the stories are an annoying distraction at the top of your Instagram feed; if you wanted to follow all those people on Snapchat, you would, but you don’t want to see everyone’s stories on Instagram; etc. Those things may all be true, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how dumb you think Instagram Stories are, because you should be using them. (And I’m guessing once you start, you’ll probably start to like them.)
There are a few components to using Instagram Stories that I think give it a huge advantage over Snapchat, but let’s start with the basics.
Differences Between Snapchat & Instagram Stories
Both IG & Snapchat let you do the same basic things: take a photo or video, add filters and text, and post it for 24 hours. But there are definitely some differences.
• Geofilters so you can show off where you are in your post
• Facial recognition lenses that change your appearance and/or voice
• Time, temperature, and altitude filters
• Basic color filters
• Basic pen tool
• Text tool lets you write on your post with both a semi-transparent background or with larger text
• Lets you upload photos from the past, but puts them in a frame
• Users can reply to stories
• Cannot rewind content
• No geofilters, facial recognition lenses, or time/temperature/altitude filters
• Many more options of beautiful color filters
• Three types of pen tools
• Text tool lets you write on your post only with larger text
• Only lets you upload photos/videos from the past 24 hours, but does not put them in a frame
• Users can reply to stories
• Can rewind content
So, although Instagram did take the idea from Snapchat, there are quite a few differences. As is typical with Instagram, it’s all about your photos looking good, thus their wide array of filters available for Stories, of which I’m sure they will add more. Snapchat, on the other hand, is more about having fun and sending creative snaps to your story and your friends, no matter how good or weird they look.
Which brings me to my next point about the differences: it’s not just about what features one or the other has. Snapchat and Instagram serve two completely different purposes.
Improvisation vs. Aesthetics
I scroll through Snapchat stories at least a couple times a day and what I see there is always different. I see videos of pets doing funny things, snaps of my friends’ lunches, bloggers reviewing beauty products, what TV show is currently on, videos of live music, and the list goes on. Snapchat Stories are there for you when you have something you want to share, but you’re not quite sure where to share it. It’s for those in-the-moment life happenings, whatever they may be.
That is not what Instagram Stories are for. Let me repeat: that is not what Instagram Stories are for. Most people follow you on Instagram because they like your feed – which, I’m guessing, you spend a lot of time working on and curating. So it just follows naturally that they will also expect and enjoy a beautiful, curated Instagram Story. That doesn’t mean that everything on your IG Story has to be drop-dead gorgeous or that you can’t share real moments from your life – your followers do like seeing “real-life” you – but it does mean you should put a little more thought into it than you do on Snapchat.
Why You Should Be Using Instagram Stories
Let’s get to the real meat of this issue, shall we? Instagram is way better for your brand than Snapchat is. And here are a few reasons why.
1. Reach. Instagram has 300 million daily active users and Snapchat has only half of that at 150 million. I’m willing to bet you have way more followers on Instagram than you do on Snapchat, and a larger portion of them will watch your IG Story just because they’re on Instagram more. Personal example: most of my Snapchat stories get 60 views on a good day, but all my IG Stories get well over 200. Not a huge difference, but a big enough one to make me think twice.
2. Searchability & audience. It’s incredibly hard to build up an audience on Snapchat. Someone has to have your username or bar code and then manually go into the app and put it in. You have no way of being discovered by new people and only your followers can see your story. On Instagram, on the other hand, it’s way easier to tell someone your handle or link and all they have to do is hit the follow button. Also, your account is searchable! People can find you through the popular pages, through your hashtags, or any number of other ways. Even people who don’t follow you can view your story if your account is public.
3. Everything is in one place. This seriously cannot be overstated. You already have a following on Instagram, and Stories just adds one more way for you to connect with them, deepening your relationship and their brand loyalty to you. It is so, so much easier than working on trying to build an audience on Snapchat or bringing your current audience over there too. You’re just creating so much more work for yourself if you’re doing that. Do it all on Instagram and you will save so much time and have better results.
4. Brand adoption. A whopping 90% of brands are on Instagram, compared to only 40% on Snapchat. This is a no-brainer if you’re an influencer. You can bet that brands looking for influencers and bloggers to help with their marketing will be watching Instagram Stories, and they’ll be choosing to partner with people who have great content both on their feed and in their Stories. They’ll be wanting to get their products into Stories, because it will show that people are using their products in real life. This is awesome for you as an influencer, because not only is it a more natural way to promote partnerships, but it’s also another channel that you can leverage (and charge more for).
5. It’s easier to use (and it’s prettier). Let’s be honest: Snapchat can feel like a secret club sometimes. A cool, grungy secret club that only you and a few select people have access to and know how to use. And that’s because it is. It is a cool place and a cool app, but not everyone can or wants to figure it out. By using Instagram Stories for your brand, you’re opening yourself up to so many more potential people on an easier, cleaner user face. Instagram has more beautiful filters, fonts, and pens, and as bloggers, that’s something we all love, right? Plus, some of those facial recognition filters on Snapchat are straight up terrifying.
Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Stories
Have I made my case yet? Hopefully you’re on board by now. If so, here are some simple do’s and don’ts for IG Stories (in my opinion).
• Plan out your content. It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect – in fact, it shouldn’t be – but curate your stories like you do your feed. If you have a travel-themed Instagram, keep your Story travel-themed for the most part. Or whatever your particular interests/photos are on IG.
• Keep it short and sweet. No one likes crazy long Snapchat Stories and the same goes for Instagram. If I see tons of little bars on the top showing me how many posts are in the story, chances are I’ll skip it.
• Tell a story. On Snapchat, you can get away with posting random moments from your day, but on Instagram, you should be posting things that make sense when strung together. I made an IG Story of a beautiful hike I took, accompanied by music that continued throughout the whole story, and it got more engagement and responses from people I don’t personally know than anything I’ve ever posted on Snapchat.
• Shoot vertical videos and photos! Instagram is a vertical app, so keep it that way. It’s so much more user-friendly.
• Just post to post. Your followers will notice and it’s not going to be the type of high quality content you want to put out.
• Be too promotional. The occasional product placement or plug about your site is okay, but if you’re doing it more often than not, it’s not going to be received well.
• Post your Instagram feed photos on your Story. That’s just weird and overkill. You can cross promote, but keep it original!
Tips and Tricks for Instagram Stories
Okay, this is the last thing, to address some of your objections to IG Stories, if you still have any. I do have a couple tips and tricks up my sleeve that I think you’re going to like.
• You can mute IG Stories! One of the biggest complaints I hear is that Instagram Stories are too overwhelming and you don’t want to look at them all. Totally understandable! But you actually can mute the ones you don’t want to see. Just press and hold your finger on top of the offending story and you’ll get the option to mute it. That person’s story will then be moved to the end of the list and you’ll never see it again until you unmute it.
• You can upload old photos. Instagram technically only lets you upload things from the past 24 hours, but if you screenshot an older photo on your phone, it won’t know the difference and will then let you upload it. Obviously you can’t do the same for videos, but if you can trick your phone into thinking you took it in the last day, you can accomplish the same thing.
• Get creative and use other apps to get cool effects! I’ve seen tons of people uploading Boomerang videos to IG Stories, which is pretty awesome, and I’m sure there are tons of other cool apps that will let you get creative. You could even upload a video you took on Snapchat if you wanted.
• Put your phone on airplane mode to upload things all at the same time. This one comes in handy for me all the time because I often travel to places that have no cell service. If you put your phone on airplane mode, you can still add things to your Story and then upload them all together later. That way, you’re not stuck waiting for something to upload and can’t add anything else to your Story. Just beware: sometimes, when you do this, IG uploads things in the wrong order. If you’re worried about it, just take videos/photos on your phone and upload them in the right order later manually.
• Engage with other people. Respond to other people’s Stories when you see something you like. Instagram is all about community, so make sure you keep creating yours!
• Instagram is going to reward you. This is more of my personal opinion based on the things I’ve seen happening on IG recently. We all know about the hated algorithm change, but by now, it’s a fact of life that we have to accept. And if you think that Instagram Stories are not going to play into who sees your photos on Instagram, you’re in denial. I don’t know if they’re affecting it yet, but I’m almost positive that the app will start showing your photos more to people who often watch your Stories and vice versa. So if you want my advice? The sooner you get started on IG Stories, the better.
So, overall (yes, we’re almost to the end!), I’m not saying to stop using Snapchat. I still love Snapchat and I still use it all the time to share funny things that my dog does or to send weird videos to my friends. What I am saying is stop using Snapchat for your brand, and start using Instagram Stories. Just try it for a little bit. You’ll not only see more views and more results, but I think you’ll actually like it.
Have you started using Instagram Stories? What do you think of them?
PS. If you want to follow me on Instagram and see my beautiful IG Stories, I won’t object. You can find me @saltywanders.