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Battle of the Stories: Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook at a Glance

Greg Kihlström

As social media capabilities continue to increase, so does the connectedness of each platform’s users. One of the fastest-growing tools is the Story function that many have adopted. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all have their version of the “story,” and each allows users to share their day in real time. This allows for the ability to do exactly what the name suggests: tell stories.

These social media stories have great business applications as well. Stories allow you to share more content and to more personally connect with consumers. However, with a variety of story options, it’s important to know: What’s the difference and how can you use each effectively?

What’s the Difference?

Snapchat

Snapchat was the first to come out with the idea of a “story.” Snapchat Stories allows users to share pictures and videos, with the option to add special effects. These effects include the ability to overlay text, stickers, and GIFs, to use AR filters that change the appearance of people/surroundings, and to change the speed or direction of videos. Any photo or video on Snapchat Stories can also be embedded with a link, allowing viewers of a Story to swipe up and go directly to a site.

Important features for businesses include the ability to sponsor a filter/lens with branded content, gaining exposure with consumers who may not follow the brand directly. Snapchat is also planning to release Shoppable Lenses, allowing companies to link to a website, an app, or a video directly from the lens.

An important aspect to note about Snapchat Stories, is the update that was released at the beginning of this year. It significantly changed Snapchat’s setup, including separating your friends’ content from that of influencers or brands that you subscribe to. This may make it a bit more difficult for your subscribers to see your content. Your business may consider “friending” your followers to get your content back to the same place, but, since Snapchat plans to maintain this updated layout, this is likely unnecessary as users get adjusted to the new layout.

Instagram

Instagram Stories came out a few years after Snapchat, but already has more users and is growing at a faster rate. Instagram allows users to share photos and videos to their stories, with many of the same effects that Snapchat offers. However, in addition to these capabilities, Instagram Stories also allows you to tag other accounts, use hashtags, and create interactive polls within your story. You can also embed links on Instagram Stories, but, different from Snapchat, you must have a verified account to have this ability.

One of the unique aspects of Instagram Stories is that it is integrated with your already existing Instagram account. This allows for the ability to create Story Highlights, which are stories that you can permanently save as part of your profile. This is especially helpful in establishing your brand image. Another benefit to this integration is the ability for your story to be viewed on both mobile and desktop since Instagram is available in both versions.

Facebook

Facebook Stories is the newest player in the story game. Since Facebook owns Instagram, Facebook Stories look very similar to Instagram Stories, but with much more limited functionality. However, as long as your Facebook and Instagram accounts are linked, your business’ Instagram Story can easily be posted to your Facebook Story as well. Also similar to Instagram, Facebook Stories can be viewed on mobile and desktop, but Facebook is actually testing the ability to post from desktop as well, due to the high number of users on that version.

Facebook groups and event pages create a unique opportunity for Facebook Stories. These pages automatically have a group story created where members/attendees can post their own content for others to see. This creates a collaborative environment for both your business and your customers.

You Know What They Do, Now What?

Understanding the functionality and capabilities of each platform is key to using them effectively for your business. One of the most important applications for the “story” feature is involving your consumers. There are many ways to do this depending on the platform you are using. You can use Facebook’s group/event stories to easily gather user-generated content that can be used in future promotions. Using Instagram’s poll feature allows you to get direct feedback from your consumers in a way that’s non-invasive for them. Going further than just simply polling consumers, you can conduct Q&A sessions with them through the chat feature that is directly linked to both Instagram and Snapchat Stories.

Stories also allow for consumers to get a look into your business. It’s an easy way to show the “human” side of the business and the people that make everything happen. Some ways to do this are showing behind the scenes footage of your business or offering solutions to common problems. You can also have guests or “story takeovers” where an influencer or celebrity shows consumers why they should love your business as much as they do, but in a way that feels natural and organic.

The Story feature on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all have different capabilities and different strengths and weaknesses. One format may be better suited for a certain objective than another, and the issue lies in figuring out which format that is. Luckily, knowing these key differences between the different Story formats allows you to create the most engaging story on each platform.

Greg Kihlström
Greg Kihlström
SVP Digital

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