Since Tuesday, the Internet has been in a frenzy over the update to Instagram called Instagram Stories. If you haven't yet seen it, it's basically a way of adding un-edited photos and videos to a feed composed of a string of individual moments that your followers can view for only 24 hours. It's a very similar format to Snapchat—which has been the current favorite platform for teens and millennials…and a platform I just got into and liked after protesting it for so long.
So the question around town is…if you're into both Instagram and Snapchat, or if you follow people or brands on both platforms…what do you do now? Where do you check in on those more "real" tidbits of life or where do you post your own behind-the-scenes glimpses that you want to share?
I am still figuring out my own plan, but as a test for the past couple of days I have been sharing the same content I would normally share on Snapchat on Instagram Stories. That way I could test the waters and make an informed decision for myself and really know the differences from first-hand experience both as a sharer and a viewer. Here's my breakdown for you of the benefits of each…
Things I like better about Snapchat
1. Filters! While filters are not at all necessary for the sharing of information, they make people kick back and not take things too seriously. It makes it easier for those who are nervous about talking to their camera to cover their face with some funny filter. My husband always says that if the people who invented the technology for those filters worked in the medical field we might have a cure for cancer by now! Because, yes, the filters are VERY good.
2. It feels more intimate. Because you have to actively add someone's exact username to follow them on Snapchat, these are people you want to be following and not people that you found by "exploring" or people you added just cause you met them once at a party. Because of the intention behind these "follows", you're probably following less people here than on Instagram. And, these are people that you want to know more about. Those that follow you here may be a smaller number than on Instagram, but they are the ones who really want to see more of the real you.
3. Ability to send stories directly to someone. I don't actually use the messaging part of Snapchat where you can send a snap ONLY to a certain person (it's like the text messaging part of it), but this was the original intent of Snapchat and a feature that it still has over its new competitor.
4. Thumbnails preview someone's story. When you're viewing your feed of recent stories, the thumbnail shown gives an indication of their last snap. It's a very small detail but I do like this ability to be able to know what I'm about to watch.
Things I like better about Instagram Stories
1. One less app to visit! While I have really been loving Snapchat lately, I can't say that I want one more thing to add to the social media cocktail that I consume and serve up on a daily basis.
2. Your current Instagram audience gets to see another side of you. A bit in contrast to the intimacy mentioned above about Snapchat, I find that people want to actually see more of the unedited side of people and brands on Instagram but don't either use Snapchat or forget to add them (since it's not an easy process to find people there). This gives you the chance to see their other side easily and it might actually help people (including myself) edit down who they follow.
3. Forward/Back controls when viewing stories. There are so many times I have viewed someone's Snapchat story only to want to go back to something I wanted to see again or screenshot. The "tap on right side of screen" to go forward and "tap on left side of screen" to go back thing is super useful.
4. You can see someone's "trailer". If you visit someone’s profile (either for the first time or to check up on their posts) and you can see their most recent story when their profile photo is outlined in color. It's a fun way to see what new people to your feed are up to or use it as a way to decide if you want to follow along.
5. Easier to direct message. While I don't love having another message stream to maintain, I like that when there is a direct message stream, you can read the conversation beyond just the 24 hours. Sometimes you see messages in Snapchat too late or you didn't get to read it and it just disappears and then you have no idea the context of what was last said.
6. Usernames are the same. For me, sometimes I like to reference other people or brands in my stories so it's nice that if I mention someone's handle that it's clear it's the same as their Instagram handle.
Here's what I think will end up happening…
A. People who never got on Snapchat in the first place will start using Instagram Stories instead.
B. People who have been on Snapchat for a while and have a strong following will stay there.
C. Those who use the platforms for their brands might post on both but distinguish different content on each—perhaps more brand-related content on Instagram Stories and more personal content on Snapchat.
For me, I have yet to decide exactly what I'll do. But I'd love to hear what you guys think!
As viewers of content, which format do you prefer? Or if you are creating your own stories, which do you prefer?
P.S. A great article on TechCrunch about it.