Social Stories and Marketing: Instagram v. Snapchat

Social Stories’… well, Origin Story

Snapchat has come a long way from their once-controversial beginnings, and has rebranded themselves as a dual-edged sword of sorts: a social media app and a functional marketing tool. In 2013, they earned their crown as pioneers of “disappearing” shareable content, including Snap “stories.” Snapchat users are able to post content to their own “story” – social stories, if you will. Essentially a collection of user-curated content, viewable by their friends and followers for a fleeting 24 hours. Snap stories were a frontier for users and marketers alike. Social media influencers, celebrities, even news outlets took to social stories like wildfire.

Sharing snippets of content over a single day is appealing. For example, viewers get clear, concise, immediate information from news outlets. Friends can post selfies out on a weekend evening, only to have them gone by Monday morning. It’s accessible, it’s customizable (thanks to Snapchat’s filters, geotags, and other creative elements), and it’s fast.

Sounds great, right?

… Well, some folks at Instagram beg to differ – cue the launch of “Instagram Stories” in late 2016.

Snapchat had been (and still is!) in a slow period of growth, with users stagnant and some abandoning ship entirely. So, Instagram took advantage of this opportunity to give their platform a “disappearing” content function. Thus, Instagram Stories were born.

How do these 2 platforms co-exist, if they’re basically the same thing? Well, they aren’t exactly. The truth is, there are quite a few differences, and some of those have created a divide among users. Whether for personal use or for marketing or branding, let’s break down the similarities and differences.


  • Photos and videos are viewable for up to 24 hours.
  • Videos cannot exceed 10 seconds.
  • Content can be edited, filtered, drawn on, stickers added, emojis used, etc. to customize.
  • Posted content is visible to the public – if your account is set to private, visible to your friends list only.
  • Stories can be re-watched multiple times until they expire.
  • Platforms show who is viewing your story.
  • Content from stories can be downloaded and saved to your device.
  • Content can be uploaded from your camera roll or taken in the moment.


  • Instagram’s search is more functional and in-depth.
  • Hashtags used in stories are clickable and searchable – Instagram only.
  • Links to websites, landing pages, and even other users’ IG account handles within stories are clickable and searchable
  • Instagram stories “add to” your permanently posted content on your IG account – Snapchat is strictly disappearing content.
  • Some users proclaim Instagram stories have “better” doodling features, and their drawing pen is better (OK, maybe this is just us, but we’re sure other people agree!).

At this point, both platforms are continuously improving, launching “new” features inspired by one another in an effort to stay ahead. However, many users who use stories as a branding tool are seemingly favoring Instagram for a few reasons. Their integration of content and interactive search features is the equivalent of Facebook tagging – having hashtags and URLs that users can click-through in your story 1) expands your reach and 2) immediately directs users to landing pages, or other places with more information, thus keeping them engaged with your content, and other relevant content, longer.

With about 40 million more Instagram users than Snapchat users, the sheer reach potential with Instagram stories is much greater. For some marketers there may be greater opportunity in using only Instagram, but with that comes greater risk. Some folks with an established audience on Snapchat are content as-is, knowing that they have a loyal base that they’ve grown with. You can’t switch platforms and expect all of your followers to come along for the ride. 

So What?

So, the jury is still out in this head-to-head battle of the social stories. In your experience, what do you prefer? Let us know!

For a free consultation on if and how your social media is working (or not working) for you, contact us today.