Why Instagram Stories is a Game Changer

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A couple weeks ago Instagram launched Stories, a Snapchat-like feature that combines static images and video into a slideshow format. Instagram Stories doesn’t include the flash of geofilters, lenses, stickers or even function as well as the Snapchat counterpart. But for influencers, none of that matters because one of their favorite Snapchat features is available on their favorite social platform.

Snapchat is a fun platform and great messaging tool. While it’s made some effort toward being a content platform, the Discover channel is designed to facilitate the discovery of content by publishing partners. Snapchat does not, however, enable organic growth for individuals and social media influencers. The only way to find and connect to another user is if you know their handle or if they’re already in your contacts.

In other words, for influencers, building an audience on Snapchat was a painstaking process, driven in large part by Instagram. Where Snapchat is a closed system that requires the help of external networks, Instagram has a functional search feature that enables discovery by username or hashtags. Ultimately, the advantage has always been Instagram’s since Snapchat growth was largely dependent on Instagram influencers.

With the addition of Stories on Instagram, influencers no longer have to worry about splitting their audiences. Rather than trying to driving traffic to a closed system where content is ephemeral, influencers on Instagram have more options for how to package content — static image, video, or both — and focus on one platform as their visual media channel.

Some influencers on the InstaBrand network have been reporting view rates on Instagram Stories up to four times higher than Snapchat stories. Likewise, Nike reported 800,000 views within the first 24 hours of posting an Instagram story after the feature rolled out, versus 66,000 views for a similar story on Snapchat. This further confirms that Instagram is the more established platform with the bigger reach.

There will be many influencers who remain loyal Snapchat users. However, others find that Instagram is the platform with the biggest reach, the better engagement, and the better way to connect with and build community. And ultimately, when it comes down to favoring one platform over the other, influencers lean toward Instagram because it facilitates growth and community.

For Snapchat, this may mean slower growth in the coming months. However, rather than trying to compete directly with Instagram, Snapchat could use this challenge from Instagram as an opportunity to reconnect with its roots as a messaging app. If the successes of WhatsApp, Line and Kik are any indication, messaging apps have excellent staying power because of their utility as communication tools.

But for Instagram and the influencers who use it, Stories is definitely a winning feature.