Complex Made Simple

Snapchat vs Instagram Stories

Last month, Instagram released its own Stories feature that directly competes with Snapchat. Influencers have quickly jumped on board and so have some brands. If you’re thinking about using Instagram or Snapchat stories (or both), you need to consider the following:

Same feature, different audiences

A large portion of the audience on Snapchat is still relatively young compared to the wider demographic range of audience on the rapidly growing Instagram, which means there’s room for more brands to be present in Instagram Stories than Snapchat.

Aesthetics versus spontaneity

People who are on Snapchat will most likely follow a different set of people there than on other platforms, and as a result share and talk about different content. Snapchat is designed for close circles of friends sharing spontaneous thoughts in real time, even though they now have an upload feature – although, from observation, it seems most are still using Snapchat the same way they used to. However, people on Instagram follow some of their friends plus accounts with aesthetically pleasing photos. As a result, what people share on each platform and the content they expect from those they follow on each platform is different. For example, while people on both platforms still follow a lot of celebs and influencers, they will expect well-shot content on Instagram and candid/random/everyday content on Snapchat. So when it comes to Instagram Stories for brands, people will expect the same well-crafted and beautifully shot images and videos but in a story format than a post format.

Dos and Don’ts

Snapchat Stories planning guidelines apply to Instagram Stories too.


Create content specific for each Stories platform. You can plan Stories with your content pillars in mind. Check out content on Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories to get a better idea of the visual differences and the types of stories told on each.

Film with a smartphone. They have great cameras nowadays and if you plan your content well, the visuals can come out pretty great.

Create vertical videos. Most people view content on Snapchat and Instagram with their smartphone upright in their hand, so if you don’t want to get skipped, plan for vertical video.

Make exclusive announcements and cross-promote on other platforms ahead of time to gain followership).


Be present on Snapchat or Instagram Stories if you don’t have a strategy in place of how you’re going to present your brand on the platform.

Upload your regular Facebook/Instagram content on Stories.

Sound too promotional. Create stories that bring out your brand’s personality.

Post ad-hoc snaps. Always tell a story.

The big advantage Instagram Stories has over Snapchat is that you can design your content ahead of time and upload it and it will look real-time – unless it’s a time sensitive event, in which case you should shoot in real-time. You can then use promoted Instagram posts to let people know about your latest story so they can follow you to check them out. However, with Snapchat, you need to cross-promote your account on other platforms to follow you first so they can see your stories – at least until Snapchat introduces some ad products in the region.

This article first appeared on Communicate Online, a sister title of AMEinfi.