Instagram Stories vs Snapchat: we have a winner!

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If you like reading my work, listening to my podcast or following me on social media, please consider donating as little as $1 a month (about 89 cents) to support rosemarymaccabe.com and my podcast, How to be SoundI have a Patreon account where you can do just that – read all about it here and check it out here. Of course, what I mean there is, I, personally have decided which platform – Instagram Stories or Snapchat – I prefer to use. Sometimes it feels silly throwing in these disclaimers; this is a blog, after all, and it's pretty obvious that all views contained therein are, well, mine, but then other times people will be all "you can't just say that like it's a fact" and so, here we are.

I've been using Snapchat for about two years now (I think!). At my peak, I had around 15,000 people watching my stories every day; right now, it varies from around 9,000 to 11,000 (usually on a Sunday, when, I suspect, people are lazing around hungover with nothing better to do).

I've been using Instagram Stories, on a daily basis, for only around three weeks – follow me @rosemarymaccabe – which may seem like a very short length of time to have made such a drastic decision about which is better (and which I'll be sticking with), but I've always been relatively impulsive. Quite aside from which, I like to think I have good judgment.

What's the difference between Snapchat and Instagram Stories?

Technically speaking, there aren't a huge number of differences between the functionalities of Instagram Stories and Snapchat. While Snapchat allows you to upload in 10-second videos, Instagram Stories gives you 15 seconds. In its first iteration, Instagram Stories didn't allow you to add facial filters – those have been rolled out in the last fortnight.

The most important functional difference, from a business – or blogging – point of view, is that Instagram Stories allows you not only to tag other users using a clickable tag (so you can go from one person's Instagram Stories into another account they've recommended via tagging), but it also offers a "swipe up to go to this website" function (for accounts with, I think, 10,000-plus followers). This means that, unlike Snapchat, Instagram Stories allows you to direct traffic towards your site, blog or another Instagram account.

One of the other important differences is that people can't be quite as anonymous on Instagram Stories as they can on Snapchat. When users send you a message on Instagram, you can click directly into their profile; unless they've made up said profile specifically in order to troll you, you'll see a little bit about them – you might see photographs of them with their friends, or from their recent holidays. The anonymity just isn't there.

On Snapchat, on the other hand, there is an inordinately high number of "ghost" followers – people who, essentially, just use the app to watch Snaps, without contributing anything themselves. There is no way to click on to their profiles; you can apply to follow them, but if they don't upload a story you're essentially staring at a blank wall.

But my winner is...

Those of you who have been following me on Snapchat for a while won't be surprised to learn that I've been enjoying Instagram Stories about 10,000 times more than Snapchat – and I've almost entirely jumped ship from one to the other. But why?

Ultimately, I think the anonymity ruins Snapchat. Sure, you can block people, and report accounts for harassment, but those people can just open up new accounts – on my block list, I have about seven different versions of the same username, someone who obviously just registered a new profile each time the old one was blocked. But I think it's a little bit more than that; psychologically, the distance that your anonymity affords you means that Snapchat users are far more intrusive and aggressive in their messaging than on Instagram Stories.

Let's be clear: this is all anecdotal, based on my experience of each app. On Snapchat, if I posted a pic of a nice cup of coffee, I might get 10 snaps. "Where did you get that cup?" "What kind of coffee is that?" "Do you drink coffee before you work out?" "Do you not find coffee keeps you awake at night?" "Your Snapchat is so boring." On Instagram, I might get one or two: "I love your mug!" or "Glad to see another caffeine addict is imbibing at this hour." It's a far, far friendlier – and less demanding – place to be.

The one drawback

Like I said, I average between 9,000 and 11,000 "eyes" on each Snapchat story. On Instagram Stories, despite the fact that I have 40,000-plus Instagram followers, I'll be lucky if my stories reach more than 7,000 people. When it comes to working with brands, that few thousand followers make a big difference.

Ultimately, though, I was finding Snapchat incredibly draining – not just time-wise, but feeling really like I was doing a public service for people whose real names I didn't know, and whose faces I would never see. And it's not just the "hate"; I still don't get a huge amount of that. It's the feeling of entitlement from a certain number (I'm sure only a handful) of people on Snapchat, who I think feel that, because they're watching your little face speaking into your phone all day long, you're somehow in a relationship of sorts.

I guess it's a lot to do, too, with how my perspective on social media is changing. I never started writing because I wanted to be famous; I set out to be a journalist because I loved writing, and it just so happened to be at the same time as this massive social media boom. And don't get me wrong: I love social media. But I do think that, for a while there, it became my main focus, my main outlet, and a lot of my life was lived in order to share it on Snapchat.

That has to change – and maybe switching over to Instagram Stories is just a part of how I'm going to make that happen.

I'd love to know what you think, though; I know, when I talked about this on Snapchat, a massive number of people said they hated Instagram Stories! Is this still the case? Which app do you prefer?