This morning, I watched in awe as a kayaker guided across the crystal clear waters of the Philippines… through an Instagram Story. Shortly after, I opened Snapchat to find another Story, and one that I’ve already seen multiple times this month: My friend – well, I should say a filtered bunny version of my friend – tiredly sipping her typical Starbucks latte.
Is this a sign that I need to make time to research new Snapchat users to follow? Possibly. But based on recent trends in the social space, I’m not the only one who has become less interested in my Snaps and more excited about consuming the Stories flooding my Instagram feed.
Since Instagram Stories launched last year, its adaption rate has skyrocketed, while Snapchat’s growth has decreased by more than half, from the middle of 2016 to early 2017. And it’s not just everyday users who are making the shift. A recent study found that social media influencers who have a presence on both networks post more content, more often to Instagram and are seeing 28 percent higher open rates on Instagram Stories, compared to Snapchat.
So, why are users – both everyday folks and influencers – turning to Instagram? Here are a few reasons…
- Accessibility: Finding new Instagram accounts to follow is extremely easy, thanks to the convenient search functionality and the Discover feature, which automatically displays users and content that you might find interesting, based on your specific account activity. Snapchat is more private in this regard, requiring a Snapcode or username in order to follow a user who isn’t a preexisting contact – meaning you typically need to get this directly from the user, or you need to spend the time researching it. As a result, I follow a larger and more eclectic mix of accounts on Instagram, leading to a more interesting experience.
- Quality Content: Instagram’s Discovery feature is great for users who appreciate receiving unique content recommendations with minimal effort, as well as influencers and brands seeking additional visibility. This accessibility makes it possible to stumble across fun and exciting content from influencers and people living interesting lives. Oftentimes, I happen across content that I would have never even thought to search for before viewing it. On the other hand, because I have to know Snapchat handles to follow users on the platform, the majority of those I follow are friends and family, and a larger portion of the content I view is more routine and mundane.
- Innovation: When Instagram first launched Stories, some were skeptical, calling it a Snapchat knockoff that lacked the cool filters. However, since then, Instagram has worked to continuously upgrade and improve upon the feature with notable additions, such as face filters and in-app Boomerang. Additionally, Instagram provides link sharing within stories, allowing influencers and brands to drive traffic (and sales!) beyond the app. Meanwhile, one of Snapchat’s latest big updates included Snap Map – a location sharing feature that received backlash surrounding the privacy concerns it presents.
- Advertising: Instagram advertising has the backing of Facebook’s robust platform, which makes it easier for influencers and advertisers to get their content out there. Instagram is also making strides to help influencer advertising became more transparent, making it easier and more convenient for influences to meet promotional requirements and regulations. Snapchat advertising has historically had a much higher barrier to entry, making it harder for just any advertiser to compete in the space.
This is not all to say that Snapchat is now irrelevant. Snapchat still has its place: Users appreciate the ever-changing rotation of filters, and the focus on sending Snaps to just a few friends makes content more personal to share and see. A nutrition and fitness influencer, Alex Crockford, said that his Snapchat followers are extremely loyal, and seem more like a big family. Snapchat is also working to lower the barrier to enter its advertising space, improve its backend and add features, such as link sharing in Stories to better compete with Instagram. The social space changes so often that the tides could certainly turn back in Snapchat’s favor, but for now, Instagram is the place for influencers and brands to focus their sharing for maximum visibility and engagement.