Live video is quickly becoming the best way to interact and engage. If you want to have a thriving audience online, you need to include streaming video. A few years ago Snapchat released it’s live chat and video to the world. Like every other trend, teens picked it up first and used it as a way to send sometimes inappropriate pictures and videos that would be safely deleted in 24 hours. Then, we all caught on to the trend and brands learned that coercing users to watch their stories meant more interaction and even more sales.
Snapchat became the favorite platform for many since we could showcase unedited and unstated views of our real life. While Instagram still gained popularity to capture beautiful snapshots of our life.


Then Instagram decided to change the game and introduce “Instagram Stories.” Let’s just be frank, this is a direct rip off of Snapchat. Short videos that disappear in 24 hours where you can watch whoever you follow. Not saying this a bad thing, but it did put a kink in the system, especially for those that are avid Snapchat users.


So, the debate is, which should you use? Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Today I want to break down the pros and cons of each and learn which one might be best for your goals.

Snapchat vs Instagram Stories, Which Should You Use? Plus a free guide on gaining views and followers

Snapchat vs Instagram Stories, plus a free guide on gaining views and followers:

How does Snapchat Work?

First, download Snapchat in the app store. To take videos or images press and hold the button on the bottom middle of the screen. Press and hold for video or just click once to take a picture. Add stickers (emojis), text, or draw all from the top right of the screen. Then, add friends by clicking on the Snapchat icon on the top middle, then type in their username. Watch stories by clicking on the top and watch in chronological order (starting with most recent) or click on the username.



How do Instagram Stories Work?

If you’re already on Instagram, you’ll see a plus sign on the top left when you open the app. Then you’ll have the ability to add videos by pressing and holding the button on the bottom middle of the screen. You use that same button to take a picture. You can swipe left to add in a few basic filters or the top to add text or use your finger to write on the screen. Watch stories by being on the home screen of your feed and clicking on the round image of someone you follow. Stories are shown in chronological order.

How to get more views on Snapchat and Instagram Stories


Snapchat Pros

– Geo filters that tell where you are or what you’re up to
– Fun filters that change often
– Face filters that you can use on your own or with friends
– Easy to write long lines of text
– Ability to create and buy your own filters that you can use for events, parties, or anything you want
– Ease of use: uploads and filters are easy to add. Very easy to add Snapchats to your story
– Add and even search for stickers by touching the sticker button (3rd from the right)
– Fun tools such as time, speed, and battery life can be added to your images and videos
– Seamlessly goes from one Snapchat story to the next
– Very easy to watch stories out of chronological order by clicking on someone’s story to watch
– Can determine the length of time a picture lasts, anywhere from 1-10 seconds
Snapchat Geo Filter


Snapchat Cons

– Not as many people use Snapchat as Instagram
– Can be difficult to save Snapchats to camera roll (multiple steps, have to save to memories, then upload from memories)
– Not as easy to upload pictures from camera roll to Snapchat
– A separate app from Instagram so you have to switch between the two
– Can be a pain to check settings and switch to add or remove friends
– Must know the person’s username in order to add them on Snapchat
– There is a little more to it then Instagram stories. You have your own set of settings and options

Insta Stories Pros

– More people use Instagram so higher probability that people will see your story
– Easy to upload to your story
– Easy to add images from your camera roll (must be taken within the past 24 hours)
– Fun fonts and text is easy to use
– Can watch your favorite instagrammer’s story by going directly to their profile and clicking on their picture
– You can “mute” users content that you don't want to see (must do this individually)
– Most likely, you’re already on Instagram, so you won’t have to keep up with another app


Insta Stories Cons

– Lots of issues switching back and forth between one story to the next
– Sometimes replays previous videos and images
– Inability to send videos directly
– Limited filters and no geo tags
– No ability to shorten the length of how long an image “lasts.” With Snapchat you can make it 1 to the full 10 seconds
– Some people you don’t really want to watch their instagram stories. You might follow them on instagram to see their pictures and don’t really care about their live videos (maybe they are just plain boring!) but with Insta stories you can’t really escape it (yes, you can Mute people you don't want to see.)


Snapchat vs Instagram Stories, Which Should You Use?

This graph shows that Insta Stories had little effect on Snpachat usage when first released. Graph via Business Insider.

One of the best metrics to gauge interest in either is engagement. If you can actually guage to see how people are interacting, then you'll be able to determine if it's working. Business Insider took a look and found that the audience that viewed a photo or video is usually higher on Instagram Stories, but “retention rates — how long users spent watching the videos and photos — were higher on Snapchat.”

It’s up to you to decide what you like best. For me, I usually get less views on Snapchat because frankly, less people are following me there. However, I like the interaction there much more. More people tend to respond to what I have to say and I just genuinely like to use the platform.

I also prefer to watch Snapchat, you can find me @helenesula. They seem to have less bugs. Sometimes Instagram will show me the same image or video over and over again and it drives me nuts so I just give up. I also like adding in the geo filters, especially since I travel, and I want to designate where I am. I like Instagram (@heleneinbetween) as a way to tell a story and share my best pictures, espeically when it comes to my journey of moving abroad.

My friend Taylor prefers Insta stories. She has a strong audience there and uses it in a way that everyone who follows her wants to watch her stories. Side note, you should follow her, she’s hilarious (@thedailytay).

My little sisters (who are 22) wouldn’t dream of uploading a video to Insta stories. They use each platform for what it was intended for. Plus “mom is on Instagram.” Meaning, what they upload to Snapchat isn’t necessarily what you’d want your mom seeing.

Many view Snapchat as more casual and interactive. You basically upload and go, where as with Instagram you craft a more elegant look at your life. I personally like to keep these somewhat separate but I can definitely see the benefits of both. I really think it’s a personal decision and depends on what kind of “material” you’ll be sharing.

As a social media marketer, I pay attention to different social media trends and try to see what sticks and what doesn't. When Periscope came out, I said, “Pass.” But I don't think that's the case with either Snapchat or Instagram Stories. They are both here to stay because people have created loyal followings on each. My best advice is to test each and see which one you like best. Play around with both and you'll find your groove.

So, now I ask you, which one do you choose? Discuss why you use it in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinion!

Free guide! Learn how to get more views on Snapchat and Insta!

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