Even though Instagram Stories are not even a year old, they have steadily surpassed Snapchat Stories in popularity. Instagram has reported more than 200 million people are using Instagram Stories every day, compared to 160 million Snapchat regulars; the main reason being that Instagram reaches a larger audience.
“I now prefer Instagram stories,” 21-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student Bailey Smith said. “They reach a larger audience for me and I use [the] Instagram platform the most out of my other apps.”
Snapchat lacks the ability to reach a larger audience due to its inability to share links, tag people or Hashtag. There’s a larger potential reach on Instagram. According to Forbes, “there are more than 700 million monthly active Instagram users, compared with more than 300 million for Snapchat. Instagram’s growth shows no signs of slowing down; with several reports expecting that one half of all social media users will use Instagram in 2017.”
It is also harder to find people on Snapchat, so it’s not an ideal source for people trying to grow an audience. However, for people like 23-year-old University of Tennessee student Casey Fellhoelter, snapchat’s intimacy is preferred.
“I follow hundreds of people on Instagram and it’s hard to find my friend’s stories in all of that,” said Fellhoelter. “Snapchat is mostly just my friends that I see and keep up with.”
While Snapchat may have invented the story, Instagram seems to have perfected it. Snapchat removed its Auto-Advance feature on October 7th; meaning users could no longer instantly watch every Story in their list in a row. Instead they had to manually select Stories to load as an ad hoc Story Playlist. Manually selecting stories on Snapchat has become a mundane task.
No one wants to select boring-Joe-from-work’s story because he always posts pictures of his shoes with a caption that reads, “HMU bored.” You are bored because you are boring, Joe, and no one wants to view your dirty tennis shoe.
Well, since the removal of auto-advance Joe’s followers could once flip through Joe’s dirty tennis shoe pic, without really acknowledging him but still giving him views. His followers didn’t mind it and Joe felt special because he felt he was heard by his 50 plus viewers.
Flash forward to the present and no one manually selects Joe’s Snapchat Story and he is left with one or two views. Now in addition to being bored, Joe is sad and feels isolated. He goes to Instagram and hashtags #Bored #Shoes and suddenly has 1,000 plus views. Joe is still boring, but now thousands of other boring people view him, and Joe’s sense of self-worth is restored.
You could argue that the remaining snapchat views are more intentional and therefore more valuable. But the change also made it less convenient to lean back and watch a day’s worth of Snapchat but can now do on Instagram thanks to its Auto-Advance feature. And several sources (looking at you, Joe) believe that’s leading users to open Snapchat less overall.
Stories on Instagram’s slogan could be, “Anything snapchat stories can do, I can do better.” From better video quality to better filters, Instagram is dominating the competition. But for users like 20-year-old University of Tennessee student Emme Marshall, loyalty has taken over progression.
“The aesthetics of the Snapchat app are simple and nice,” said Marshall. “They were the forerunner for this kind of communication and they’re always thinking of new things to incorporate. Instagram always ends up trying to copy Snapchat, too.”
In the end, more college students are choosing to use the better quality Instagram Stories, but have not entirely ruled out Snapchat as a secondary source of communication,from goofy selfies you can send to a friend that disappear in a few seconds to media outlets designed for short attention spans. As for now Snapchat is safe, but Instagram may have a few more tricks up its feed.