There is no doubt that Instagram has taken a lot of heat since the debut of their overly familiar "stories" feature. The update - that had 90% of our office scratching their heads wondering "isn't this why we have plagiarism laws" - lets users share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Over a month has passed and thus far, brands seem to have caught onto the feature, adding Instagram Stories to their list of necessary marketing podiums. It should come as no surprise that both Instagram and Snapchat are after the hearts and minds of users, and the numbers seem to support both platforms on their quest for the attention of consumers. According to Snapchat's website, on any given day the platform reaches 41% of all 18 - 34 year olds in the United States. However, a recent study found that 32% of millennials list Instagram as their most important social network - an impressive percentage when you're up against social networking veterans like Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, the race is on, but which is best for your marketing strategy, and which is worth the investment? Understanding the differences and capabilities of each platform will help you make an informed decision on where to invest your time and money. If you started asking yourself the Instagram or Snapchat question recently, you're certainly not alone. What is important to remember it should not be a platform vs. platform comparison. Both still feature their trademark unique capabilities, and both marketers and brands alike have most likely spent time building audiences on both platforms. Instagram Stories do provide the opportunity to communicate in-the-moment, and share intimate content with your Instagram followers - the same draw that helped launch Snapchat as a valid marketing tool. However what seems to be lacking for marketers is a true strategic approach in differentiating content creation for both platforms. Instagram has always been the opposite of Snapchat when it comes to prioritizing consumption and creation. When I open Snapchat - it's usually to create content, and the design allows for that, with the app opening on the camera screen. On the other hand, when I open Instagram, it's mainly to consume content. All credit goes to both apps for having their UX in check - however what are the pros and cons when it comes down to prioritizing content on a Story?

The Pros of Instagram Stories

Founded in 2010, Instagram certainly has a leg up when it comes to follower count. With some brands having built their base from day one - Instagram Stories allow marketers to connect with their existing audience without having to prompt their followers to migrate to a new platform. Instagram Stories also made some serious design improvements on Snapchat - making it, in my opinion, the easier of the two interfaces to navigate. From viewing content to sharing it - the sleek design with small differentiators, such as the animation shown when swapping from one user to another, makes it a pleasant experience for users.

The Cons of Instagram Stories

The most entertaining part of Snapchat is the filters. From daily changing selfie lenses, to geotags - Snapchat is on their game, and in the money, with the ability for brands to take part in the filter fun. Instagram Stories offer the bare minimum, allowing users to add text, emoji's, and drawings to a video or image. However Instagram's parent company, Facebook, recently acquired facial recognition app MSQRD, so we don't think it will be too long before we see the offerings expand. Historically, Instagram has been a place for manicured, edited, and quality imagery and video. Snapchat was the opposite, and served as a home to unedited, goofy content with fun filters and effects. The million dollar question lies in whether Instagram can manage that shift in culture, while still allowing brands to represent the same image they convey with their traditional Instagram content. So, where exactly do Instagram Stories fit into the content equation? For some time we expect to see duplicate content between both 'Story' features while the social media mavens of the world discover how exactly Instagram Stories clearly fit into their content strategy.
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