Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories: What’s the Difference?

On August 2, 2016, I opened up my Instagram app and thought “Wait, did I accidentally click on Snapchat?” We all saw it coming — Facebook tried to buy Snapchat, as well as released several (unsuccessful) competitors in the past. Now, Facebook-owned photo-sharing app Instagram had added a new feature in its update: Instagram Stories.

We live in a time where we have nothing but choices on where to publish our content. Both Instagram and Snapchat now offer the ability to post 10-second videos and photos that disappear in 24 hours. These features are meant to share what’s going on “in the moment.”

Here we are, five months later, and both platforms continue competing — adding new options to each of their respective features, one after the other. So is Instagram Stories really just an imitation of Snapchat? And, if not, which should you use?

The Case for Instagram Stories

With more than 600 million users (and 100 million+ of those joining since November), Instagram holds strong over Snapchat, which announced 150 million users as of last summer.

The connected Facebook friends list — with the added opportunities for simple search and discovery — makes Instagram Stories a much easier platform for finding and retaining new followers.

According to Ad Age, Nike received 800,000 views for an Instagram Story it shared the first 24 hours the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike’s best video got 66,000 views.

All users are given the option of tagging other Instagram users in their posts, and verified users have the ability to link Stories to outside content — features not available on Snapchat. Additionally, Stories can be captioned, providing the opportunity for the user to utilize hashtags.

Instagram Stories also provides superior drawing capabilities to Snapchat, with colors aligned along the bottom of the screen (compared to Snapchat’s color slider), as well as three separate pen tools: pen, marker, and “neon.”

Companies who are considering Snapchat may not see the point when they can reach their audience with a similar feature, through a platform they are familiar with already.

The Case for Snapchat

Searching users may be more difficult than on Instagram, but Snapchat is alone in its Live Stories feature. The company publishes Live Stories regarding events in particular geographic locations and, if you’re in the area, you’re able to contribute Snaps to the story. The option to post to a Live Story is automatically generated when you go to publish a Snap.

Another plus for Snapchat is the ability to Snap any photo/video on your camera roll by way of the Memories feature. Instagram Stories only allows users to share photos taken within the last 24 hours.

Filters on Snapchat definitely shut down the standard Instagram filters offered for Stories. Not only does Snapchat offer a few sepia/black-and-white options, but also Selfie Lenses (make yourself a bearded Viking!) and World Lenses (make clouds vomit!).

Like Instagram Stories, Snapchat offers temperature and time overlays — but unlike their competitor, they also offer the ability to speed up, slow down, or play videos in reverse. Users can also pin emojis or text to particular locations in videos (making hearts land over your dog’s eyes when he’s getting a treat, for example).

Then there’s the favorite feature unique to Snapchat: the geofilter. From neighborhoods and cities to concerts and sporting events, fun geofilters become available to use as overlays when you’re in a particular geographic area. Snapchat has even monetized this feature, providing every user with the ability to create their own geofilters for special occasions (think weddings, conferences, really good pizza parties).

Still Unsure?

In a study completed by Business Insider, they found that “reach—the total audience that viewed a photo or video—is often higher on Instagram Stories, but retention rates—how long users spent watching the videos and photos—were higher on Snapchat.”

When many people think of Instagram they think of well-cultured profiles. The best photos, consistency of branding, not over-doing it. That’s an interesting contrast to the Instagram Stories feature, meant for right-now moments, which may be grungier than those beautifully edited shots filling your profile. Even if you’ve been working on Instagram and feel comfortable with the platform, it’s important to note, Instagram Stories is different than Instagram.

Snapchat, because it’s always been meant for those right-now moments, isn’t thought of in the same way. It’s a silly platform, where posts don’t have to be crisp and practiced, or even recorded with steady hands.

This divide in mentality alone may be the help you need to decide which one of these great options to use — if not both!

Image Credits

Featured Image: oneinchpunch/
Screenshots by Caitlin Rulien. Taken January 2017.