Why Brands and Influencers Are Abandoning Snapchat for Instagram Stories

Once the undisputed king of ephemeral social media content, Snapchat has seen its dominance eroded by the meteoric rise of Instagram Stories. Launched in August 2016 as a near-clone of Snapchat‘s Stories feature, Instagram Stories quickly surpassed Snapchat‘s user base and has continued to pull ahead ever since.

As of January 2022, Instagram Stories had over 500 million daily active users, more than half of Instagram‘s 1 billion total users. By contrast, Snapchat‘s entire app has just 319 million daily active users. (Source)

This massive disparity has led many brands and influencers to question their presence on Snapchat and shift their ephemeral social media strategy to focus on Instagram Stories instead. Here‘s a closer look at why the balance of power has shifted so dramatically in Instagram‘s favor.

Instagram‘s Bigger Audience Is a No-Brainer for Brands

The simplest explanation for the exodus from Snapchat to Instagram Stories is a matter of scale. Instagram has more than double the users of Snapchat, giving brands a vastly bigger potential audience to reach with their disappearing content.

"Snapchat vs Instagram? It‘s not even close," said Suzie Haberman, social media director at digital agency Beeby Clark+Meyler. "With Instagram we‘re getting 5-10x as many views on Stories compared to Snapchat. For brands trying to maximize reach and efficiency, Instagram is the clear winner." (Source)

Even more appealing for brands is the fact that Instagram users skew older and have more purchasing power compared to Snapchat‘s primarily teen and young adult user base. Nearly 45% of Instagram users are between 25-44 years old and 54% earn over $50k per year. (Source)

Lifestyle publication Bustle found that its Instagram Stories reached 30% of its Instagram audience within the 1st month of the feature launching – 10x the views they got on Snapchat after a year of posting. (Source)

Influencers Follow the Money and Momentum to Instagram

It‘s not just brands, many top influencers have also jumped ship from Snapchat to Instagram Stories in search of bigger viewership and more lucrative sponsorship deals.

A survey of influencers by Hashoff found that 99% were using Instagram Stories compared to just 67% on Snapchat. Instagram was also rated the most effective platform for influencer marketing. (Source)

For millennial influencer network Collectively Inc, 92% of their influencers reported higher Story engagement on Instagram vs. Snapchat. On average, they saw a 50% drop-off on Snapchat Stories after the first frame compared to only 12% on Instagram. (Source)

"I started on Snapchat but the momentum and energy has clearly shifted to Instagram," said beauty influencer Huda Kattan. "As Instagram Stories has grown, it‘s become the main place I post and work with brand partners. That‘s where my audience is now." (Source)

Advanced Features & Ease of Use Tip the Scales

Beyond just a larger audience, Instagram Stories has rapidly copied and expanded on Snapchat‘s most popular features while making them easier to use. Interactive elements like polls, questions, and countdown timers give brands fun ways to engage fans that Snapchat lacks.

Instagram‘s tagging and "Swipe Up" links also enable easier cross-promotion and traffic-driving for brands compared to Snapchat‘s more closed-off ecosystem. And the overall Instagram app is more intuitive to navigate, making it simpler for users to discover branded content.

"Snapchat just feels clunky and limited from a brand perspective compared to the arsenal of business tools Instagram has rolled out," said social media consultant Matt Navarra. "Why fight an uphill battle with Snapchat when you can get better functionality and reach with Instagram Stories?"

In a 2019 survey, 89% of brands said Instagram was their most important social media platform, while Snapchat didn‘t even make the top five. (Source). That dominance has only grown as Instagram continues to launch brand-friendly features like shoppable posts and "Stories About You" highlights.

Lack of Innovation & Growth Plague Snapchat

As Instagram has surged ahead, Snapchat has struggled to keep up in terms of feature development or to significantly expand its audience. The app has been seen as stagnant and less essential by many users and brands.

Snapchat‘s much-hyped redesign in 2018 was widely panned and caused its user growth to slow to a crawl. The platform has also faced challenges with declining Story views, likely due to increased competition from Instagram. (Source)

"Snapchat consistently trends downward for us in terms of views and engagement," said Devin Puglia, social media manager for food site Bon Appetit. "There‘s no compelling reason for us to invest a ton of time and resources there when we‘re seeing much stronger results with Instagram Stories." (Source)

Instagram Simply Feels More On-Brand

For many companies, Instagram Stories has proven to be a more natural extension of the content they‘re already posting in the Instagram feed. The highly visual, curated aesthetic of Instagram is seen as well-aligned with industries like fashion, beauty, travel and food.

"Instagram is where our brand shines the most," said Marne Levine, COO of beauty subscription service Ipsy. "Our audience loves the premium look and feel of our Instagram content and Stories are a seamless way to expand on that with behind-the-scenes access. It just makes more sense for us than Snapchat." (Source)

Influencers in visual-heavy verticals also find Instagram to be a better showcase for their work. "I‘m a photographer at heart, so the glossy, editorial vibe of Instagram has always felt like home to me," said travel creator Melissa Hie. "I use Stories to supplement and promote what I‘m posting in my permanent feed. It‘s a cohesive strategy that I never quite achieved with Snapchat." (Source)

The Monetization Factor

At the end of the day, brands and influencers often prioritize the platforms that provide the clearest path to driving revenue. And on that front, Instagram has pulled ahead thanks to its growing suite of e-commerce and branded content tools.

Instagram Checkout and shoppable posts have made it easier than ever for brands to translate Story views into purchases. Influencers can also directly tag products or use affiliate links to earn commissions from their recommendations.

"Snapchat never really cracked the monetization code in a meaningful way for brands or influencers," said Krishna Subramanian, CEO of influencer marketing platform Captiv8. "But Instagram has unlocked a massive opportunity by making Stories shoppable and integrating them with the rest of its business features. That‘s a huge draw for anyone looking to drive sales from social." (Source)

On the influencer side, 79% report doing sponsored content on Instagram Stories compared to just 16% on Snapchat. And the price tags reflect the difference in perceived value – the average sponsored Story on Instagram goes for around $2,400 vs. $500 for Snapchat. (Source)

What‘s Next for Instagram Stories & Snapchat?

Looking ahead, it‘s hard to imagine Snapchat staging a major comeback against Instagram‘s Stories juggernaut. The app seems destined to maintain a dedicated user base among young people, but increasingly feels like a niche platform that can‘t compete at scale with Instagram‘s all-encompassing gravitational pull.

Instagram Stories‘ position is only getting stronger as the feature is tightly woven into the overall Instagram and Facebook ecosystem. New ad formats, AR filters, and e-commerce integrations will likely keep brands invested and spur even more ways for influencers to get paid.

"Instagram Stories is absolutely essential to our clients‘ influencer strategies now," said Mae Karwowski, CEO of influencer agency Obviously. "The numbers speak for themselves and the ROI is clear. Snapchat is barely even part of the conversation anymore." (Source)

While never say never in the fast-moving world of social media, it would take a serious flurry of innovation and user growth for Snapchat to reclaim its ephemeral content crown. For now, the smart money is betting on Instagram Stories to continue its rapid ascent as the dominant platform for disappearing photos and videos.

Only time will tell if Snapchat can snap out of its slump. But for brands and influencers seeking to maximize their audience and impact with ephemeral content, Instagram Stories has earned its place as the undisputed champion.