Snapchat & Instagram: The Battle Continues!

 Type Mode on Instagram Stories 

Type Mode on Instagram Stories 

The competition between Snapchat and Instagram Stories is fiercer than ever with features being copied, new functionality rolling out, increased opportunities for brands, and of course the now infamous Snapchat home screen update.  As there continues to be a migration of Snapchat users to Instagram stories, understanding these updates and overall user sentiment is important when allocating digital marketing funds to either platform.

One of the most recent updates that has been rolled out to both platforms is the ability to customize fonts on Snaps or Stories. On Instagram Stories, Type Mode allows for the entire screen to be filled with text; no other imagery is necessary.  This feature is great for brands that may have limited resources for creating artwork but still want to get messages out in a quick and easy format.  With the variety of text options, it’s easy to find one that best represents your brand.  Not more than a week after this update, Snapchat users also started seeing new text options.  The main difference between the two is that Instagram offers more than just new fonts, but an entire new format to send Stories.

The next big feature that is rumored to roll out soon is the ability to share public posts to Instagram Stories.  This feature is two-fold, as it could help drive brand discovery, and also be a great tool for sharing user-generated content.  While it’s great to receive a lot of likes on a post as an “endorsement,” the value of the like is diminished as users don't necessarily see what their friends are liking.  However, with the new sharing feature, users will be able to publicly give brands their stamp of approval by sharing a post to their story.  It will also encourage brands to create and post higher quality content to their Instagram profiles.

 New Discover Tab on Snapchat

New Discover Tab on Snapchat

The most recent home screen update that Snapchat launched has seen a larger than expected amount of negative feedback.  Whenever there is a drastic change to a platform’s look and feel or functionality, a fair amount of good, bad and indifferent commentary is expected.  However, the negative feedback for the new Snapchat update has been so widespread that there is currently a change.org petition as well as a Photoshopped DM exchange between Snapchat and a user stating they would revert back to the old layout if they got 50,000 retweets (this tweet now has more than 1.5 million retweets, making it the 6th most retweeted tweet of all time).  The update was first rolled out to Australia and the UK with 83% of the reviews considered negative on the App Store.  There have also been complaints amongst Snapchats celebrity users and prominent influencers.  These users stories no longer show in the same feed as your friends updates, but in a separate Discover tab.  This includes content from media sources, popular accounts you're not “friends” with, in addition to popular influencer and celebrity accounts.  While this new layout helps with search and discoverability, many users are having a difficult time finding the content that they care enough about to seek out on their own.

In today's digital environment, all apps are faced with the threat of new competition and Snapchat is certainly not immune to this threat.  While most platforms try to highlight their unique features when faced with users leaving, Snapchat is having a difficult time distinguishing itself amongst it's rivals in the Facebook family of apps.  Although Snap Inc. reported a positive 4th quarter and significant user growth, it will be interesting to see how the update affects the number of daily active users and new user growth.  Additionally, with the unexpected positive fourth quarter, Snap has now opened up their marketing API to the whole developer community.  So while more marketers are now able to advertise on the platform, some may be wary to do so until the current negative feedback settles down and users decide whether or not they will actually leave the platform.