Much has already been said about Instagram and Snapchat’s bitter rivalry, coming up with a new way of looking at things is just about difficult as coming up with a new groundbreaking feature. Instagram would know. Instagram Stories does exist, and like it or not, is successful. Tremendously successful.
The thing about Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories, if one goes up, the other one is most definitely going down, and to Snapchat’s dismay, their numbers are slowing down. Now it would be too great a coincidence that soon after Instagram Stories was introduced, Snapchat’s numbers have shown ominous signs.
TechCrunch reports that a number of analytics providers have spotted a sag in Snapchat Stories usage since August 2 last year, while on the other hand, Instagram Stories has been witnessing higher engagement rates at the same time.
As had been said before, the launchpad for Instagram Stories was already much higher and unless they did something significantly troublesome, it’s success was partially foreseen.
Within two months of its launch, Instagram Stories hit 100 million users, and soon matched Snapchat’s numbers of 150 million in January earlier this year. To put that into contrast, Snapchat launched in 2011, hit 150 million users in June 2016, and has not grown to a more significant number since.
One could attribute this plateau to the arrival of Instagram Stories.
Let us look at a few analytics to provide a deeper insight into the slow down of Snapchat’s statistical report card. Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo, a creative insights and social video analytics platform told TechCrunch, “Overall, from August to November 2016, the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story has decreased about 40%.”
With an IPO impending, this could mean bad news for the company. It reportedly fell to #11 on the list of app downloads according to App Annie, right around the time when it’s clone came into existence.
Snap Inc. did try to innovate and branch out to wearable hardware with Spectacles, and they were a huge hit among the Snapchat faithful who queued up to get their hands on the new accessory.
But that failed to usher in new users, which is need of the hour.
It is not that Snapchat did something wrong, the problem simply was that they did not do something right.
Glance over a few factors that may have led to Snapchat’s recent stumbles boosting the wind in Instagram sails. To begin with, Snapchat removed the auto-advance feature in October last year, which may have led to the decline in Story views.
The auto-advance feature allowed users to watch all their friends’ Stories in one go, replacing it with Story Playlist that let users select the Stories they want to watch, skipping the ones they find uninteresting.
So now, Snapchat users decided the Stories they wanted to skip, thus witnessing a considerable decline in Story views being discovered by analytics.
One of the other reasons behind users and Influencers preferring to use Instagram in the lieu of Snapchat, as is the case with social media celebrity Hannah Stocking, who saw a steep decline in views on her Snapchat account, while at the same time having a ball on Instagram. She gained a tremendous amount of followers on Instagram, from 1.2m to 4.3m from August 2016 to January 2017, which is the same time frame when Instagram Stories was launched and registered a great user adoption.
Finding new accounts and fresh content on Snapchat may also have a part to play in this particularly unsavory development for the company. Instagram on the other hand makes it completely easy to do the same, not to mention that established Instagram accounts very easily retain their followers, providing ephemeral content coupled with Instagram’s core functions at the same time.
Instagram banks on its Explore tab to highlight popular Stories on their platform, giving users fresh content and new accounts to follow in a matter of seconds, all tailored to their tastes and interests.
To make matters worse for Snapchat, going beyond users’ growing fondness of getting the same product, with the changes they wanted on some other platform was that Instagram Stories and the core Instagram platform kept making headlines, positive ones.
Instagram hit 600 million users and Instagram Stories matched Snapchat’s user numbers, and that cannot be good. And most of us are aware of Facebook’s ruthless nature when it comes to rivalry with other platforms.
Now, Facebook wants to push Snapchat further away from the number two spot, as the social networking giant has begun to test Stories on their own platform. If that follows a similar script as it did with Instagram Stories, tough times lay ahead for Snapchat.
Co-existence is not an option, with Snap Inc. inching closer to an IPO, displaying a drop in user numbers and Story views on their report card is not something that Wall Street finds desirable.
The company faced with this circumstance, was being forced to innovate, and they did with a new update. Adding a ‘Search’ button at the top, Snapchat attempted to make their platform friendly for users beyond millennials, perhaps to appeal to more people to join or keep them coming back.
Instagram on the other hand has been the only bullet from Facebook that managed to hit Snapchat, with Poke, Slingshot and others missing the mark, Facebook wants to fire many more.
Speaking about the international markets where Snapchat has failed to acquire users, being popular back home in the United States alongside United Kingdom and other countries. Whereas 80% of Instagram’s user base lies outside the United States.
By delivering Stories to the number of countries that it remains popular in, Instagram has virtually arrested the possibility of Snapchat gaining any ground in future.
Putting into consideration the two broad types of users that exist, ones who use both Instagram and Snapchat, and the ones who use only Instagram; the ones using both platforms are leaning towards Instagram, slowly abandoning Snapchat. The other category that has not tried their hands on Stories, would probably end up using Stories on Instagram itself.
Instagram has equalled if not beaten Snapchat, and the numbers paint a gloomy picture for the platform, and the future looks bleaker with every hypothetical scenario one can imagine.