Snapchat vs. Instagram Live: Battle Royale

By: Katherine Wylie

It is no secret that our favorite social media platforms have begun to replicate even the most classic features from other platforms. This practice has allowed for each platform to be less specialized, leaving them unrecognizable from their original purposes.

This incorporation has led to users creating accounts on multiple platforms that now accomplish largely the same thing. Remember when Instagram was for pictures, Facebook was for statuses and photo albums, Snapchat was for disappearing messages and photos (for you sketchy folks), and Twitter was for punchy jokes?

Now, each platform has borrowed such features from each other to an extent that has made competition for user loyalty fiercer than ever. Most recently, this competition has sprung up in the form of “live stories.”

Image via Pexels

These in-the-moment style posts began on Snapchat in October of 2013. Users could now post a photo or video that disappeared within 24 hours, as opposed to the maximum 10 seconds they were used to. This monumental development catapulted the “live” posting trend to the forefront of social developers’ vision.

This progression led Instagram to unveil an identical feature in August of 2016. Instagram users could now post permanently to their profiles as they had done before, or post more fleeting images, videos and Boomerangs for 24 hours before automatic deletion. This rather obvious adoption of the “live story” function left some Snapchat devotees almost personally offended by the copycat nature of this development.

Though some users use both platforms for each of their respective features, some have taken a more oppositional approach by strictly using one platform or the other. This methodology is backed by a few differentiating characteristics that allow users to choose exactly how they want to post their content and with whom they wish to share it.

Instagram was established first, and has a much larger user base. Most Instagram users have drastically more followers on Instagram than friends on Snapchat, and as such, filter the types of photos and videos they post to their much more scrutiny-prone Instagram community.

Another factor to consider is the perceived spontaneity of each platform. While Instagram is more curated by each user, Snapchat feels authentic, spontaneous and oftentimes more relaxed than its Instagram counterpart.

Both of these platforms have garnered a massive following, and many users have accounts with each. However, it is important to know the benefits and pitfalls of each before posting your content to your social network.

As our fearless leader, Kelli Matthews, once said, “If you’re talking to me, please don’t put it on Snapchat, but if I’m talking to you [the class], I should most certainly put it on Snapchat.”


Katherine is a public relations major who will graduate this June. She is an account executive working with JAJ Enterprises and serves as AHPR firm editor. 

This Article Has 10 Comments
  1. Evan Tanaka says:

    Great post! This is something that I have been noticing for a while now. In my recent travels over to China they have something called WeChat which is almost every app put into one ( Pretty soon something similar is going to take over when everyone is done copying each other.

  2. Marisa Cesare says:

    Good read. I enjoyed reading your description of each of the social media platforms’ functions and purpose. Personally, I think its more beneficial to stick to each platform’s respective features. In my opinion, platforms like Instagram or Facebook should be used more professionally and I don’t believe that the live features on either platform enhance professionalism on people’s personal accounts. I think live stories should stick to Snapchat.

  3. Cyrus Heffernan says:

    Good stuff. I actually think there is room for both Instagram Stories and Snapchat – as you said, Instagram is more curated, and users generally have more followers, while Snapchat is much more casual, and users generally are only followed by people they are reasonably close to. I could see both platforms continuing to develop towards these respective strengths, and not necessarily stealing each other’s market share.

  4. Jon Fisher says:

    Great post! I’ve had this debate with friends about what they think about Instagram stories and most people seem to love it. Personally, I still use Snapchat just because it’s what I’m used to. But I’ll admit that the stories on Instagram look better and I don’t see what will stop Snapchat users like myself from eventually hopping on the Instagram story bandwagon. However, I see Snapchat staying relevant since I don’t think anyone would want to scroll through 500 to 1000 stories each day from all their friends on Instagram. Snapchat is a great way for close friends to stay connected in a fun way without having to maintain some public image.

  5. Shannon Elliott says:

    Love your title! A battle royale definitely seems like an accurate way to describe Snapchat and Instagram Live. When the Instagram Live feature first came out, I was a little skeptical in terms of whether or not it would become a popular feature. I think that because Snapchat has created such a strong niche within live stories, it will be hard for Instagram to break even with that feature. I definitely agree with the idea that Snapchat is a more relaxed and spontaneous way to post live stories and because of this main aspect I’m hesitant to believe that the Instagram Live option will become a more popular way to post live stories.

  6. McKenzie Hargens says:

    It seems to me that while platforms are borrowing (or stealing, depending on your perspective) featured functions from each other they stand to both gain new users and run the risk of loosing current users who are more strongly dedicated to one platform over another. For instance, when Instagram first introduced Instagram stories the response was initially negative with users stating loyalty to their snapchat handles. However, after Instagram introduced its exclusive boomerang feature as well as the ability to include hyper links into the shared stories concept it created a separation between the two similar features that distinguished one platform from the other and gave both Instagram and snapchat indiviaul potential. This is a prime example of how platforms can borrow features from each other, but need to introduce a new and transforming concept along with the borrowed idea to establish the need for the similar yet new concept.

  7. Sean Thornberry says:

    I think the main difference, that could be Snapchats downfall, is the ease in which people can follow others on Instagram. I agree with you that Snapchat feels a lot more personal, but I think with Instagram introducing these features, they’re going to take a lot of users away from Snapchat’s platform. I’m already seeing it a lot with my own friends group. They’ve lowed down in using Snapchat and instead posted a lot of mini videos and live videos to their Instagram stories. Users are mainly focused on one thing, and that’s numbers. If they can get greater engagement on Instagram (and with greater ease), they’re going to switch!

  8. Mark Kellman says:

    What hurts Snapchat the most is that it’s a closed platform. It’s not easy to find brands or other people on the app, unless you know their exact username. With Instagram, the search feature is considerably more useful and the app, in general, appeals to a larger base, so all of the content that you post will be seen by more of your friends/followers. While Instagram completely copied Snapchat stories, I do not really blame them for doing so–they do it better.

  9. Nick Hudson says:

    I’m an avid snapchat user who has never posted an Instagram story and I’m not sure I have a good reason as to why. In my mind, Instagram is for posting a heavily filtered image that makes my life look super cool once a week, Snapchat is where I go to share embarrassing photos and videos of my friends while they’re not looking.

    Agree with some of the other commenters though that the ease of Instagram and how it has integrated a number of features may eventually attract many Snapchat users away from that platform. Snapchat is not the most intuitive app, is difficult to locate, add and follow friends and is yet to crack the code to generating steady revenue. Interested to see how it plays out.

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