Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

Stories on social - we're all telling them

Grace Green
14th March 2018

In the past few months, quite a few social media platforms have been blatantly copying Snapchat by integrating Stories into their mobile apps. The most obvious and well-known copier is Instagram, which has surpassed Snapchat’s daily user base by having 250 million daily users of the Stories feature alone.

Despite the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram, it’s not clear how normal users actually feel about the changes. I asked a few people what they thought about Instagram Stories, and the results were a bit mixed.


Some people liked them:

Vivian: I like the Stories. I used to use them on Snapchat but now I don’t any more. I just use them on Instagram cause it feels like I would have to post the same thing twice. These people already follow me on here. It’s easier to reach more people.

Kelsey: I like Instagram Stories! The features are so cool, and they have potential to be so artsy.

And some people didn’t:

Allison: I always think about it as more for “try-hards”, for people who are super active on social media all the time more than just normal people.

Holly: I thought it was a bit excessive at first. I was like: “Oh, this is exactly the same as what Snapchat has.” I just thought it was unnecessary.

A few had comments on the real differences between the apps, and how the users perceive them:

Allison: Instagram is more artsy; Snapchat is more: “Oh my God, look at how dumb my face looks in this filter!”

Holly: Snapchat is more like the scandalous things you do, whereas Instagram is more like: “Look at this cute ice cream cone I bought.”

Kelsey: I think a lot of Instagrams showcase an aesthetic - the best version of yourself. Snapchat is more fun.

What’s the consensus?

Most people were annoyed at the beginning because Instagram was so obviously copying Snapchat, but they have gotten used to the change. While some have started using Instagram Stories exclusively, most are still using both apps. Watching Instagram Stories has become part of their everyday routine.

Didn’t you say other platforms have Stories?

WhatsApp, Facebook and Facebook Messenger have added Stories to their platform. On WhatsApp, it’s called Status, and on Facebook Messenger, it’s My Day. Facebook just calls them Stories. All of these platforms are owned by the same person, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

Zuckerberg claims WhatsApp Status has more daily users than Snapchat. Snapchat has 161 million daily users while WhatsApp Status has 175 million daily users. Despite the supposed popularity, however, WhatsApp Status doesn’t appear to be used by many people. Many articles discussing it call it “the feature you never knew existed”. I certainly didn’t, and when I brought it up at Mediablaze, the general reaction was: “What is that?”  Below is a picture of what my WhatsApp Status section looks like at all times.


Despite that emptiness however, there are a lot of reasons why WhatsApp is more popular than Snapchat. The biggest is geography. Snapchat is very westernized. Based in Venice, California, it has placed a large focus on American holidays and events. Most of its featured stories are in the United States and most of the media outlets on their Discover page are American or British.

WhatsApp was used widely across the globe, particularly in Europe, before introducing Status. The app isn’t big in the United States, where I’m from, as most people prefer texting or iMessage. So my WhatsApp Status is just a reflection of where I live, not the rest of the world.

In similar fashion, despite Facebook’s 2 billion users, not many are using Stories. Here is what the Stories section on my Facebook looks like (keeping in mind I have over 1000 friends on the site).


As you can see, they don’t use Facebook Stories! And it’s not just me. People all across the world aren’t using it. In fact, Facebook has started trying to encourage its users to engage with the feature but to no avail.

It’s a similar story with Messenger’s My Day. My 1000 friends don’t really use it, and neither do the rest of Messenger’s users. There isn’t any real data on how popular the feature is, so for now, the only way to gauge how popular it is, is by looking at who uses it in your feed. Only one person in my feed ever has! My friend Christopher recently used it to document his trip to Africa (seen below), because it was more instant than uploading all the pictures to Facebook a few days later. But as you can see, he is a bit of an anomaly and doesn’t have any company in the My Day section.


Why are some of these Stories not popular?

The reason Facebook Story and Messenger My Day aren’t overflowing with users is because of how public Facebook is. As you may recall, that’s the same reason Vivian used Instagram stories over Snapchat stories. But there is a big difference between people on Instagram and those on Facebook.

Facebook is a big group of people who you have met throughout your life. You add everyone you kind of know, even if you’ve only met them once - not really the type of people you want to see what you’re doing at all times! While on Instagram, your account is open for everyone to see (unless you choose to make it private), you don’t really get people you don’t know following you unless you’re a celebrity or an influencer. Generally, your group of followers is much smaller, and younger, on Instagram than on Facebook. Instagram has a young user base and, because of that, people are more comfortable sharing their everyday happenings with them rather the eclectic and older crowd on Facebook.

Snapchat is targeting millennials and, by adding stories, these other apps are trying to target them as well. The problem is, Facebook and Messenger don’t have the large millennial user base of Instagram and Snapchat. Millennials and Gen Zers aren’t running to sign up for Facebook the same way they do Instagram and Snapchat.

One of the reasons Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status are doing so well is the features were added after the apps had the daily users. Many Europeans already used WhatsApp daily to talk to their friends, so adding Status was just another way to interact on the platform. In America, WhatsApp is not widely used, which is why my Status section is empty.

With Instagram and Snapchat, I have already signed up to see pictures and videos from people I follow daily. Sharing pictures daily has never been the norm on Facebook. Instagram and Snapchat were created as purely picture and video-sharing platforms, which is why Stories make more sense there, and are frequently used.

What does this mean for Snapchat?

The answer is unclear. Snapchat could eventually be a forgotten social media, like MySpace and AOL. People can only watch Stories on Snapchat and Instagram for so long before they get rid of one completely. Right now, it’s a toss-up for which will be defeated by the other.

But Snapchat isn’t just for making Stories. It has a largely used Discover section, which already includes publications such as Cosmopolitan and the Wall Street Journal, and is now creating original programming. Even James Corden is jumping on board, with his Snapchat show starting this autumn.

What everyone keeps forgetting is that the main reason people love Snapchat is the fact that messages disappear. The biggest thing the app has going for it is the privacy, not the Stories.

Snapchat also holds a different connotation in the mind of its users than the other platforms. They see it as the light-hearted app where you can make fun of yourself or show your friends what you’re really doing the Tuesday before your final exam. Instagram is seen as the aesthetic, cleaned-up place to share your activities.

So for now, other apps can add Stories all they want. Snapchat isn’t going anywhere.

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