A Case for Instagram Stories

Posted @ Oct 03 2016 by

Two of the largest social media giants have recently gone head to head on a new front: Stories. With the release of Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Instagram are now competing for your content and attention centered on the fleeting moments in life.

The idea of short, expiring stories was developed by Snapchat, but Instagram is trying to make it ubiquitous – in the same way that Facebook created the ‘Like’ button and now every other social platform has a version of it.

With Instagram’s Stories rollout, business owners are left to navigate yet another social media channel and evaluate whether it’s the right fit for their marketing mix. Snapchat Stories or Instagram Stories: where should marketers and business owners be spending their precious (and limited) hours?

While I love playing around with Snapchat filters as much as the rest of the world (the flower crown filter happens to be my favorite), when looking at the two platforms from a business perspective, I’m #TeamInstagram. Despite the criticism Instagram has received for creating and releasing an admittedly similar feature to Snapchat, there are certain important attributes that set it apart from Snapchat and make it a better marketing solution for small business owners.

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1. INSTAGRAM IS MORE USER FRIENDLY

If you put Instagram Stories and Snapchat side by side, you have to admit Instagram is simpler to navigate. The sentiment I’ve heard from many small business owners when asked about the Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories debate is, “I’m so glad Instagram added this feature because I couldn’t figure out how to work Snapchat.” While Snapchat isn’t super complicated once you get the hang of it, it is more complicated than Instagram.

Beyond its superior level of user friendliness, using Instagram Stories also means not having to learn a brand new social network to use it. While Snapchat isn’t super complicated it does mean adding an entire new social network to your toolbox to login and keep up with. So much of social media effectiveness is rooted in regularity and frequency of posting, which equals time. Adding another social network equals more time, something not all small business owners have.

 

2. INSTAGRAM HAS A BUILT IN FOLLOWER BASE

Building a social following is no small feat. It takes time, effort and strategy to establish a base of followers interested in engaging with your content. You’ve already done the grunt work to build up that base of Instagram followers and utilizing Instagram stories means you don’t have to start from scratch as you would on Snapchat. The added feature gives you a new and effective way to deliver content on an existing platform.

3. CONNECT WITH MORE THAN JUST YOUR FOLLOWERS

Snapchat Stories are only shown to followers, so your content’s reach extends only as far as that group. On the contrary, Instagram plans to add a feature that will suggest stories to users based on their interests and who they already follow on the app. What this means for Instagram users is they’ll never be left without live content to digest – the whole point of social media. More importantly, it will give business owners the opportunity to connect not only with users outside of their follower base, but also users that are already similar to their existing follower base.

4. LESS OF A FOCUS ON LENSES

Is a Harry Potter filter really necessary to promote your business’s content? Don’t get me wrong, Snapchat lenses are fun, but Instagram’s filters focus on improving the look and quality of photos, which outweighs the ‘fun factor’ of Snapchat for businesses in many instances.

5. IT’S NOT JUST STORIES

Instagram stories come along with the ability to use the entire Instagram app- the newsfeed which brings content that lives past a 24-hour window, hashtags to connect with more people, the ability to tag followers that might be interested in what you’re posting, and link to Facebook.

With all marketing, you want to be in as many places as possible (where your customers are). Covering your bases ensures you limit the number of missed opportunities to connect with customers. If you have the time and bandwidth, I’d strongly encourage you to have a strong presence on both of these platforms. If you have a limited amount of time and resources to dedicate to marketing, which is often the case, and are forced to make a choice between Instagram and Snapchat, Instagram has my vote.

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