Brand Presence Converges on Instagram and Snapchat

Brand presence on Snapchat and Instagram is converging.

In recent days,  both social platforms have added new features that contradict their typical styles. While Instagram is opening the door for publishers to interact with their followers on a more intimate, less edited level, Snapchat is opening itself up to more professionally produced content.

The popular photo sharing app, Instagram, launched Instagram Stories on August 2nd. The new feature allows users to post pictures and videos — that will only last for 24 hours — for their followers to view. Users are able to choose from a selection of six filters in addition to adding text and drawings for their temporary creations. Users cannot upload photos — they have to be taken in the moment.

This new feature almost exactly mimics Snapchat’s Story feature that was introduced in October 2013, allowing users to create a slideshow that lasts 24 hours for all their friends to view. When taking any picture with Snapchat, users have access to filters, drawings, geotags, stickers, and more—whether it’s for their story or to send to individual friends.

Think you’re seeing double? It’s okay, Instagram knows how close the two features are.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, in an interview with TechCrunch, agreed that the creators over at Snapchat “deserve all the credit.” He went on at length to explain that while his company might not be the first to the concept, they are always striving to make it unique to their own platform and audience.

“You don’t have to worry about overposting,” Instagram explained in a press release on their blog, “Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too.”

But it’s not just Instagram taking cues from Snapchat. Snapchat, in addition to their photo sharing and chat features has added Discover, a place for publishers to post articles and longer forms of media than the normal 10 seconds and a few lines of text, and Memories, which allows users to save their Snaps within the app and to add them to their Stories at a later date.

These new features from Snapchat and Instagram are drawing in a wider range of brands and publishers who want to engage with audiences in new ways.

At AwesomenessTV — a media company jointly owned by Dreamworks, Verizon and Hearst — folks are eager to try any new way to engage with their audiences, especially since their company is so rooted in social media with a number of YouTube accounts and YouTube stars featured in their productions.

“We pride ourselves on being very nimble at AwesomenessTV,” said Rory Armstrong, director of marketing at AwesomenessTV. “And that kinda manifests its way in social in a lot of ways.”

Armstrong mentioned that while Instagram’s new feature is extremely similar to Snapchat, Stories has “the Instagram vibe” of being more curated and polished, whereas Snapchat is more “raw” and “real-time.”

Instagram has not yet put the tools together for formal advertising on their Story feature―though sponsored content does appear in the normal feed, but brands are still using their slideshows to their advantage.

AwesomenessTV has already produced branded content for Old Navy on their account, cosmetic companies are using the feature to unveil swatches of new products, and publishers are teasing headlines in their slideshows.

Meanwhile, Snapchat is taking a step towards more traditional media. NBC is partnering with Snapchat to create short form spinoffs from their own reality shows, beginning with “The Voice on Snapchat” in September. The content being posted to Discover feature will be original content, rather than showing clips from the shows viewers could see on the typical airing.

Publishers are aware of how the reach of each app is different. “It really is a great opportunity for us because we have a pretty decent following on [Instagram], so we’re able to reach those fans that we wouldn’t necessarily reach on Snapchat in that Instagram environment,” said Armstrong.

Still, Snapchat offers its own advantages. Brands are able to have ads in Discover through publishers, but also they can create sponsored filters and lenses. Snapchat’s informational page on ads says that the app reaches 41 percent of 18 to 34 year olds in the United States, a similar age range for the majority of Instagram’s users .

Instagram still has larger numbers of users with over 300 million daily users as of June and over 500 million users total, while Snapchat has around half of that with 150 million users daily according to Bloomberg. But that hasn’t stopped brands like Taco Bell, General Electric, or the latest video game from having lenses, filters, and ads on Snapchat.

Neither app is going to replace the other, as far as publishers are concerned.

“Overall, our stance […] is to always be where the audience is, so it’s not like we’re going to pick one over the other,” Armstrong concluded. “We’re going to be wherever the audience chooses to go.”

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