Why CMOs Should Use Instagram Stories Rather Than Snapchat

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Ever since the introduction of Instagram Stories, the writing has been on the wall for Snapchat. Its era is coming to an end.

Sure, Snapchat was here first. It definitely deserves recognition for what it accomplished. It was the pioneer of ephemeral image messaging. It’s also continuing to grow at a moderate pace, which means it might still have some life in it.

Yet, within the span of a year, Instagram has managed to top it in nearly every conceivable area. It beat Snapchat at its own game and overcame it in terms of popularity.

So what does this mean for marketers?

It’s time to jump ship and get on board if you haven’t already. This article will look at a number of reasons why Instagram Stories is the better platform for your business.

User Base

Instagram is one of the largest and fastest growing social networks around right now. There are over 700 million users on the platform, with 400 million of them active each day. Furthermore, around 250 million users are using and sharing Instagram Stories. Within two months, Stories increased by nearly 50 million users.

Snapchat simply can’t compete with Instagram in this arena. In comparison, they’ve been only able to attract 177 million daily active users as of August. This is a clear sign that the platform has hit a period of stagnation.

Instagram Stories is the obvious choice if you want to reach the widest audience possible. Given the sheer size of its user base, it’s almost guaranteed that you will encounter a greater rate of engagement than on Snapchat.

Search Function

Snapchat doesn’t have a perfect search functionality, and it can often be difficult to find other accounts. Recently the platform launched a new universal search feature, but it still isn’t as convenient as it should be.

Stumbling upon accounts is nearly impossible on Snapchat without knowing exact usernames. This is because Snapchat is geared more toward messaging with friends and other contacts. You have to go to extra lengths just to see content outside of the people that you already follow. There are public “Stories” that come up during searches, but they are stripped of any user handles.

Meanwhile, Instagram boasts superior search options. Users can be found with hashtags, names and location-based geotags. Instagram also recommends accounts, and has an “Explore” page that highlights content relevant to your interests. This means that there are more opportunities for people to discover and follow you.

Image Quality

Quality is king when it comes to content. The more aesthetically pleasing something is, the more people will be attracted to it. Nobody wants to waste their time looking at eyesores.

This is especially true for marketing. Most people are already resistant to blatant advertising as it is. If they have to view it, they’d rather feel that they’re getting some value out of it. That’s why marketers should always strive to deliver the highest quality content.

Snapchat is built around sharing pictures and videos straight from your phone’s camera. This means that Snaps often lack proper lighting and composition. They also tend to be grainy due to low resolution. As a result, you rarely see any visually appealing content on the platform.

In contrast, Instagram Stories allows for higher resolution uploads. You can edit your content and give it a professional sheen before publishing it. It also offers more advanced drawing tools than Snapchat, in case you want to add some doodles to your photos.

Facebook Integration

Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012, in a monumental billion-dollar deal. At the time, some pundits said Facebook had overpaid, but it’s now clear that Facebook saw the network’s massive potential and jumped on it.

With the infinite resources of its parent company, Instagram grew exponentially.

One of the greatest benefits of this acquisition is the integration between platforms. Content can be seamlessly shared between Facebook and Instagram. Instagram is even testing a feature that would allow you to post Stories directly to Facebook.

Interconnectivity is an invaluable asset in the digital age. Being able to share content across platforms increases the chances that it will be seen. Some of your Facebook audience might not be aware of your Instagram presence, so this could help guide them toward it.

Targeting Options

There’s another advantage that Instagram inherits from Facebook: precise targeting capabilities.

Facebook has some of the most powerful ad targeting around. This is something they’ve extensively developed over the years, drawing from the deep wells of data generated by their 2 billion users.

Facebook’s algorithms consider everything when customizing ads for an individual. As well as typical demographic points like age, race, gender and nationality, they examine online activity, life events, purchasing habits, travel history, political views and other personal information.

So, when you target ads for your audience on Instagram, you are tapping into their Facebook data as well.

Snapchat has its own services for targeting, but is limited to its own user base. This puts it at a distinct disadvantage.

Advertising Costs

With marketing campaigns, it all comes down to dollars and cents. This is the practical truth underlying it all. You can only do as much as your budget will allow. That’s why you need to make sure you get your money’s worth.

Most sources indicate that Instagram ads are cheaper than Snapchat’s. Some report that they can even be half the price. While the precise cost likely varies depending on the specifics of your campaign, Instagram on average seems to be the more cost-effective platform.

Instagram also boasts a dashboard in which you can purchase ads and monitor their analytics. This is an incredibly handy tool that helps you unify and manage your campaigns. You can also use a third-party tool like Owlmetrics to measure over 30 detailed metrics. Snapchat recently launched a similar Ad Manager, but it isn’t quite as robust as Instagram’s services.

With Instagram Insights, you can access analytics for more than just ads. It can also give you details about profile views, the amount of traffic driven to your website and the types of followers you’ve reached.

Accessibility

Instagram is easier to use and navigate than Snapchat. It’s a key reason behind the success of Instagram Stories. It has an intuitive user interface that solves many of the problems people have had with Snapchat.

For instance, there’s a progress bar at the top of each Story. This lets you know how much you’ve viewed so far. To replay a story once it’s over, all you need to do is swipe backward. It’s a small innovation, but it makes a major difference in the user’s experience.

Almost everything is far simpler than its Snapchat equivalent. This includes following accounts, searching for stories and sharing content with others. As a result, the odds of getting noticed on the platform are much higher.

Hashtags

Earlier this year, Instagram introduced Hashtag Stories. These Stories are connected to each other through the use of a shared hashtag: whenever anybody searches for the hashtag, your Story will appear among the results.

Additionally, you can add clickable hashtags to your Stories. All you need to do is click the “Aa” icon and write out the hashtag you want to use in text form. By using branded hashtags, you can lead users to more of your content with a couple of taps.

Snapchat doesn’t have hashtags. The closest it has are geofilters, which let other users find you by your location. Instagram has roughly the same thing in the form of location stickers.

Community Interaction

Currently, you can only respond to Snapchat Stories with text. It’s about as basic as it gets when it comes to communication.

Instagram has decided to one-up this feature. Now users can respond to Stories with pictures and videos. This also includes all of the same filters, stickers and other tools used for editing.

Most people on social networks want to be seen, as well as to see other people’s content. The option to respond to others in a creative and attention-grabbing manner is far more enticing than a regular text chat.

This could lead to some unique opportunities for brands to engage with their audience.

Website Links

Some features are only available for certain types of accounts. The most notable of these is the ability to insert clickable links in Instagram Stories.

There are two requirements needed in order to qualify for this feature. The first is that it needs to be a business account. The second is that the account needs over 10,000 followers. These are the only restrictions so far, and there’s a chance that the feature might become more widely available in the future.

To attach a link, you simply click on the chain icon at the top of the screen while making your Story. This will bring you to a page where you can paste the URL. After that, all you need to do is tap the green check mark and it’s done. Then you can get back to editing your content.

Snapchat currently allows users to include links in their Snaps. However, using the app for commercial purposes is strictly forbidden without permission. An approved partnership is necessary, or else they might crack down on your account. This makes it a less friendly platform for brands than Instagram.

Links are a crucial part of any company’s social media strategy. After all, the ultimate goal is to influence potential customers to buy your products or services. Usually this involves directing them to a website where they can do so.

You may not have 10,000 followers yet, but you are still free to put a link in your Instagram bio. Snapchat doesn’t even offer the space to do this on your profile.

About the author

Neal Hallenbeck

Neal Hallenbeck is a graduate of Adrian College. He is a freelance writer, media critic and computer game designer.

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