So, let’s say you want to post a picture on social media. But you only want it to be visible for 24 hours. And you kind of want there to be some fun designs on it. Maybe you have a couple more pictures that kind of go along with it too. Also a video. After 24 hours? That series of pictures needs to be gone… except you’d kind of like to save a copy to your phone first. And also you’d like to add a filter, too.
Would you believe that there are not just one, but two different apps out there ready to let you fill this void in your life?
That’s right: both Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories exist for this very purpose.
Even though at first glance these two apps are very similar, there are a couple key differences that mean they aren’t interchangeable. Understanding what sets them apart is very important — you want to make sure you avoid a social media faux-pas!
What Do You Use These Apps For?
If you haven’t used Snapchat Stories (released October 2013) or Instagram Stories (released August 2016) before, they’re pretty simple to understand.
Basically, the Stories feature allows users to post a set of photos and videos that can be viewed sequentially for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the photos and videos disappear without saving to any kind of timeline.
For Snapchat, the Stories feature is very on-brand. The app is firmly based in the idea of disappearing images, and sharing images that may not be the right fit for other platforms. On Snapchat, your Story is a way to share events with people you may not know well enough to snap directly.
For Instagram, however, the Stories feature feels like a strange decision. After all, Instagram is very timeline-based, and most of its content features perfect snapshots complete with staging and editing. Turns out that all this pressure to be perfect hurt Instagram’s content. People weren’t posting because their pictures weren’t perfect!
Instagram Stories is an antidote for this way of thinking. Now, people can post on Instagram without worrying about “messing up” their feeds with less-than-perfect moments.
What’s the Same?
There’s no denying it: Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories are very similar features.
Both apps have a 24-hour timeline and allow you to upload both photos and videos. But that’s not where the similarities end. In addition, both apps:
- Let you see who has seen your post. On both apps, view your own Story and then swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Then, you’ll be able to see a list of usernames that viewed your Story.
Let you save your posts automatically.
- On Snapchat, go to Settings (press the ghost button and then the gear) > Memories > Auto-Save Stories.
- On Instagram, go to your Story Settings (press “Add to Story” button and then the gear) > Save Shared Photos.
- Only let you view Stories on Mobile. Snapchat doesn’t have a web platform, and Instagram’s website doesn’t let you access stories. Both apps only let you access this feature from your phone or tablet.
Even though the two Stories features are identical at first glance, if you look a little closer you start to notice some significant differences.
While both Stories features let you edit your pictures, Snapchat has a lot more options.
Thanks to all of Snapchat’s crazy updates, you can add geofilters, lenses (like the ever-present dog ears), color filters, a time stamp, the temperature, your altitude, your speed, stickers, bitmojis, text, and freestyle drawing to your Story. Videos can also be slowed down, sped up, or played in reverse.
On the other hand, Instagram Stories has fewer options to choose from. Several colour filters are available, but don’t have recognizable names. You can also add text and doodles using three different pen tools. No video filters are available. However, there are some helpful tricks in the video below if you want to take your Instagram Stories to the next level!
The number and kind of privacy settings open to Snapchat and Instagram users was different to begin with. So, it makes sense that the apps also have slightly different approaches to privacy regarding their Stories features.
On Instagram, your profile can either be public, or only open to individually-approved followers. If you have a public Instagram account, your story will automatically also be set to public. Unfortunately, you can’t limit it to only followers. However, you can block certain followers from seeing your Stories by going to Stories > Settings > Hide Story From. If you want closer control over your Story’s security, you’ll have to make your Instagram account request-only.
On Snapchat, your privacy settings are a little simpler. Under Settings > My Story you can choose whether you want “Everyone” to be able to see your Story, only your friends to see your story, or “Custom” where you can block specific friends that you don’t want to see your story.
The biggest difference between the two platforms is the audience that your Story is going to reach. This is the main reason why it’s so important for you to know which platform is the best fit for you and the message you are trying to communicate. Even though the two features are similar, the way Instagram and Snapchat are used (and the people who use them) are almost completely different.
Teenagers and young adults flock to Snapchat for insights into the lives of celebrities, to be silly, and to send ugly selfies to their friends. Usernames are often completely untraceable to other social media accounts, so it’s unlikely that bosses or parents are watching their snaps.
This relative anonymity means that snaps are focused at peers, and as such regularly feature nights out, coarse language, and photos posted without thinking.
While this kind of approach works seamlessly in Snapchat culture, the same can’t be said for Instagram.
People’s Instagram accounts are regularly attached to their Facebook profiles, and often contain their full name. Furthermore, your social circle on Instagram is likely a lot wider than it would be on Snapchat — and if you have a public profile, you have no idea who could be seeing your posts!
For this reason, if you want to use Instagram Stories effectively, it’s important to be thoughtful about what you post. Even though its intent is to make Instagram a little less picture perfect, it’s still best to avoid posting language, images, or videos that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.
Which Stories Feature Is Better?
Honestly, the choice between Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories comes down to the person using the apps.
Arguably, Snapchat is still king when it comes to the number of features available for images and videos added to a Story. As well, Stories are more accepted as part of the base features on Snapchat, whereas Instagram users haven’t all fully accepted the function.
And, honestly, Snapchat is a lot of fun. It’s great to have a place to post things that don’t fit on any other social media niche!
However, if you find Snapchat confusing, want your Story to be visible to a lot of people, or want to minimize the number of social media accounts you have, Instagram Stories is also a great choice.
If you want to be really crazy? Try both! See which one fits your style better, and go from there.
Do you prefer Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories? Let me know in the comments! I’d also love to know if there’s any key differences between the two platforms that I forgot to mention.