Why brand managers should choose Instagram over Snapchat

PR and marketing pros know that visual content is a must in today’s world of digital storytelling. For those overwhelmed with platform choices, one communicator argues to stick with what you started on.


This article originally ran on PR Daily in December of 2016.

Remember the days when stories were simply ink on paper bound between two covers, to be read and enjoyed at your own leisure?

Stories have taken on a whole new meaning. With the rise of social media, every person with a Wi-Fi connection can become a storyteller.

Today’s digital storytellers rely heavily on visual social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to share their lives with family, friends and consumers.

Snapchat vs. Instagram

Snapchat earned its position as the fastest-growing social app through its self-destructing photo and video messaging. Originally, users could send a photo directly to a friend for 1-10 seconds, and after the time expired, the photo was gone. There were a few updates along the way, but what revolutionized Snapchat was is “Stories” feature.

With Snapchat Stories, users can take photos and videos and edit them with text overlays, filters and geotags that your entire friends list can view as much as they want for 24 hours.

It was a huge hit with Snapchat users. Why tell a story to select friends when you can share it with your entire friends list? Plus, with a 24-hour expiration, you can relive your memories and save it to your camera roll.

Brand managers and celebrities caught on to the fad, giving fans a more personal, behind-the-scenes peeks into their worlds without having to send photos and videos directly.

Snapchat Stories was the go-to for connecting with friends and brands on a more intimate level, and quickly became a daily habit for many users.

Enter: Instagram.

When it came to visual storytelling, Instagram once took the cake. Filling your profile with photos and videos makes connecting with friends and family and sharing your favorite moments a breeze.

For brand managers, when used correctly, Instagram is a tool that tells a stimulating and cohesive brand story. Look at how Reynolds Wrap tells an engaging, ongoing visual story made possible through the platform.

Instagram remained a photo-sharing favorite, but the social media scene remains a saturated market with like-minded offerings. On the other hand, Snapchat had a unique product that had younger generations flocking to it. Starkly contrasting to Instagram’s polished, cohesive look of individual profiles, Snapchat offered a way to enter the daily lives of users and brand managers alike—until Instagram Stories was rolled out.

The case for using Instagram

Comparing apples-to-apples, Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories are almost identical. Why are brands turning to Instagram to tell their stories and resisting the original visual story supplier, Snapchat?

1. Brands already have a following on Instagram. Many brand managers held off on moving over to Snapchat when it was first developed, but had already established a presence on Instagram.

Growing a following on Instagram is also much easier than it is on Snapchat. With Instagram’s search bar, a simple guess could lead you to find your favorite brand in seconds. In comparison, to start following a user on Snapchat, you must have their exact username—a big thing to ask your consumers.

2. Instagram’s analytics tools surpass Snapchat’s. On Snapchat, the insights you receive are slim-to-none. You can see who saw your individual Snapchats and who screenshotted them. That’s it.

By comparison, Instagram recently rolled out brand profiles and analytics tools, enabling brand managers to see the age range and gender of your followers, days of week and hours your followers are using the platform, impressions, reach, clicks and more. You can analyze this data and strategizing on how to best reach their followers in a meaningful way.

Brand managers know who their followers are on Instagram, how to reach them and how to keep them coming back. Instagram Stories are a natural extension of this established strategy.

3. Instagram reaches an older audience. Some of us grew up with smartphones in our hands, but others didn’t. Many people find Snapchat’s interface puzzling, but are Instagram wizards.

The facts speak for themselves: Only 29 percent of Snapchat users are over the age of 25, and a whopping 70 percent are women. If you’re trying to reach women aged 13-25, Snapchat is the story-telling platform for your brand. Otherwise, you can reach a broader demographic on Instagram.

Today’s consumers can become loyal brand advocates. They’re also more likely to have a positive experience with branded content that builds awareness, rather than content aimed at a direct sale.

You know that you should create stories, but why start fresh on Snapchat when your fans can get the same experience on a platform in which you’re already established?

Erin Ally is a digital account strategist at R&J Strategic Communications, based in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter at @rjscerin. A version of this article originally appeared on the firm’s blog.

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