Curator Intern Blog Series
By Aleximie Holleaux
Last week, Instagram added “face filters” to its stories feature, taking yet another swing at the Snapchat empire. Could this be the final coup that makes Snapchat bow down to Instagram owner and social media giant, Facebook?
The rivalry between the two social media giants is not recent and, in fact, only seems to be growing. Last August, Instagram added “stories" to its platform and now the filters are eerily similar to Snapchat’s lenses, both in how they function and in how they look. Instagram is not denying that they are copying Snapchat, and CEO Kevin Systrom even claimed, "Snapchat has all the credit". When looking at the situation from Instagram’s perspective, it’s clear they see this decision as a no-brainer. Given the app is trying to bring more people together and be a one-stop shop for users looking to share moments of their lives in innovative ways, face filters are a must-have. In fact, the strategy seems to be working extremely well for Instagram. Since the app’s latest update, the app has seen its number of daily users rise to 200 million compared to Snapchat’s declining 165 million users a day.
By cloning Snapchat’s lenses, Instagram isn’t taking away from the popularity of face filters, but rather the exclusivity of the feature that was once only available to Snapchat users. Although loyal snapchatters have yet to switch to Instagram stories, the impact is seen among new users who are now less likely to download Snapchat in the first place. I can see why that would be the case. Why download two separate apps, when you can get both in one?
Influencer content is also impacted by the updates as influencers are found to prefer Instagram stories over Snapchat stories. While the reasons for their preferences aren’t clearly defined, it’s safe to assume there are three main factors: Instagram reaches a bigger audience, is more user friendly and allows users to share external URLs. All are very important to people trying to promote a business and increase following. Not to mention, this makes engaging with followers or fans easier, more personal and more interactive.
Despite the growing popularity of Instagram, Snapchat is not dead yet and the rivalry is far from over. The little ghost we’re all familiar with is still more advanced technologically, and the time spent per user on the platform still remains higher than that of Instagram users.
Why is this important for PR professionals to understand? Simply put, it confirms that social media platforms are ever changing and persevering to surpass one another. PR professionals, influencers and general users alike need to constantly be on the lookout for changes. The world of media relations is changing largely because of the advancement of social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Users are no longer solely sourcing their facts, inspirations or news from traditional media outlets, but rather interactive, social landscapes. That being said, professionals need to understand the inner workings of each platform, how people are using these channels and when it’s appropriate to message via these apps in order to garner the biggest impact. Not to mention, they need to pay close attention to the updates social media platforms are making across the board, in order to stay on top of trends and further tailor projects and outreach to accommodate these ever-evolving channels. While researches continue to share data such as the best time of day to post and what kind of messages should be shared across which platforms, it’s important PR professionals do their own research so they can stay ahead of those studies and ensure their messages reach their target audience.
This blog was written at a part of Curator’s Intern Blog Series. The author, Aleximie Holleaux, is a senior at the University of Washington studying communication. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.