A tale of three platforms: Snapchat v Instagram v Facebook Stories

magic open book of fantasy stories
Here at Smoking Gun PR we’ve long been advocates of spinning compelling yarns in a bid to bring in more public support for your brand. As such we’re delighted to see that telling tales has never been easier, or more on trend than it is right now.
The current battle for narratives started with Snapchat Stories- a series of ‘snaps’, linked together to tell a longer anecdote, made visible for 24 hours. It might not sound like a feature that could kickstart a social network war, but that’s what happened. Since the launch, Instagram, Snapchat’s biggest rival, has gone on to unveil its own Stories- pretty much an exact replica of the original- and parent company Facebook has just done the same, which is why you now have small rounded pictures of your friends above the News Feed. Click on those to see their latest tale, if they have created one.
Confused as to which you should be using? Fear not, we’ve got your back- here we pit Snapchat v Instagram v Facebook, so let battle commence…

Round One: The target audience

Let’s face it, the average Facebook user is getting a bit long in the tooth. Once the definition of a fresh faced Silicone Valley firm, it’s now about as establishment as things get. By comparison, the average Snapchat user is aged between 18-29. Instagram is slightly more mature, but half are still under 30. So, you need to ask where your target audience is going to be found, once you’ve identified them.
Worth a note: Instagram claims 400million active daily users, dwarfing Snapchat’s 158million, and whilst this lags way behind Facebook’s 1.23billion the latter represents a more general audience, few of which are early adopters or boundary pushers.

Round Two: Originality

There’s only one clear winner here- Snapchat. The network invented the whole Stories thing way before Instagram had even asked its owner, Facebook, for more cash to come up with a competing idea. Facebook loses the battle, arriving late to the party and aiming itself squarely at those who don’t use Instagram and, most likely, don’t get what Snapchat is all about.
Don’t forget: Younger people are stereotypically more likely to experiment and try new things, so take this into consideration when thinking about where to put your Stories- what works with Snapchat’s audience probably won’t with Facebook’s.

Round Three: Functionality

Snapchat will always be the benchmark by which other Stories are judged, and the joys of making yourself look like a dog with a simple filter is hard to fully convey. Nevertheless, Instagram, which has always looked to provide a slick, pro-looking platform for photography, arguably has better functionality- Boomerang creates instant GIF content, and Live is proving very popular with celebrities, allowing users to go behind the scenes at events. Then you have the classic Instagram filters, which may not be as wacky as Snapchat’s, but deliver more polished results.
One more thing: Facebook’s facial recognition is apparently better than both Snapchat’s and Instagram’s, and the walkthrough to introduce you to Stories is much more hands -on and descriptive, so learning how to use this is easy.

The results

It really does depend on what you want to achieve, and with who, but we would say the strongest option overall is Instagram. It’s not too niche, which you could say Snapchat is, but nor is it focussed on the late starters and old timers left out in the when it comes to storytelling. Ultimately, then, if you target a very young demographic Snapchat is essential, but Instagram is a great way of getting in front of some of the same people, but with a much wider and more varied audience to boot.Sadly for Facebook, this means that even though we’ve not seen user figures for its own Stories, we predict an uphill battle to establish itself this area.

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