Snapchat was first. Then came Instagram. And now, Facebook.
Snapchat’s defining feature is their disappearing images and videos, which can be shared publicly, to all your followers, or privately.
Instagram recreated this with Stories, and Facebook played copycat in their Messenger Day feature and then again with their own Newsfeed Stories.
So what’s the difference between Facebook Messenger Day, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories? Which one should you use? Does it even matter?
I can tell you one thing: in the battle of Facebook Messenger Day vs. Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories, it does matter.
And in this post, we’re going to look at why, along with differences between each platform and which you should use for your business.
Facebook Messenger Day vs. Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories: The Similarities
This is a pretty good place to start. Facebook Messenger Day, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories all have some overlapping features, including:
- Images and videos that disappear
- The ability to send these images and videos privately, publicly, or to your followers
- The ability to enhance images with text, emojis, filters, and on-screen drawing
- Only available on the mobile app versions of the platform
- Messages delivered individually can be viewed twice;
- The ability to see the number of views on your content while it’s live
The features are all extremely similar, and pretty much work the same ways. They have the same benefits of creating urgency.
So What Are the Differences?
While these platforms work the same way, they still have individual differences that give them advantages over each other—even Facebook and Instagram, which are sister companies.
Let’s take a look at the differences that make each unique.
Snapchat Unique Features
Snapchat has a unique feel to it, even after the other platforms have ripped off a bunch of their signature features. It’s a quirky, fun vibe that is unique to Snapchat alone, and while Instagram has definitely started stealing some of Snapchat’s users, the users that remain are loyal. This userbase in and of itself is a unique feature that acts as an advantage for Snapchat.
Another distinctive advantage for Snapchat is their geofilters; Facebook was trying to copy this with their Location Frames, but Snapchat got a patent and shut that down quickly. Now, this feature (which is part of their ad platform) is exclusive to Snapchat alone. If interested, you can see how to use and create them here.
Facebook Messenger Day/Stories Unique Features
Facebook’s Stories and Messenger Day features work the same, except one is published above users’ mobile Newsfeed and the other is published in users’ Messenger app.
This platform has the biggest difference out of all of them: as of now, Facebook Pages don’t have access to Stories or Messenger Day. Instead, you can only use them from a normal user profile.
This is a major limitation, but it can still be useful for your business, especially if you run or are part of a local SMB. If you have lots of friends on Facebook that are (or could become) customers, you can still use the stories features to promote your business. You have to be more careful so you don’t spam your friends and family with too much business content.
This will be easier for some businesses more than others. My photographer and graphic designer, for example, share great beautiful, visual-centric content regularly. This is an incredible way to promote their businesses; some businesses may not have these same opportunities that will appeal to the audience on their personal profile.
In the future, I’d be surprised if Pages didn’t get access to Facebook’s knock-off Snapchat features, or at least the ability to create ads to run for them like Instagram Story Ads. We’ll keep an eye out and let you know.
Instagram Stories Unique Features
In the battle of Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories vs. Facebook, Instagram has the most unique advantages, hands down.
These advantages include:
- An enormous and more diverse audience compared to Snapchat
- An “explore” section, where your stories can be shown to new users who haven’t connected with you yet (you have to pay hundreds of thousands for this on Snapchat)
- The ability to create Live Stories, which sends users notifications and lets them interact with you in real-time
- Instagram Story Ads, which you have to pay for but can be extraordinarily efficient.
- Being featured above all other content at the top of the feed.
Which Should I Use?
In the war against Snapchat vs. Instagram stories vs. Facebook’s set of Snapchat features, you have to determine which platforms can help you leverage the most results from your audience.
Deciding which platform(s) to use can be the challenging part, and revolves around deciding which platform has the strongest combination of features and audience members that will benefit you most. You can always share content to multiple platforms, but for the sake of the post, if you absolutely have to choose one, we’ll help you figure out which to use.
When to Use Snapchat
If you have a loyal audience on Snapchat, then use it. I’d be surprised if Instagram, in particular, didn’t cause an even larger decline in Snapchat usage, but I think that will happen slowly and over a longer period of time than the six months we’ve had Instagram Stories. And while you have an interested, engaged audience, why not make the most of it and get the most mileage out of that platform?
Something about Snapchat feels authentic, and the brands that use it can show their fun, quirky sides. Aside from these benefits, though, Snapchat doesn’t have much of a unique advantage that the other platforms can’t provide, too.
When to Use Facebook Stories/Messenger Day
If you’re a B2C business with very personal relationships with your customers, Facebook Stories and Messenger Day can work well for you. Using Facebook Stories for marketing is so tricky because Pages don’t have access, so you need to have strong relationships with your clients through your personal profile to make this work.
If this is you, though, full steam ahead. Remember to make any business promotions as personal as possible; mention something positive, like “moments like these make me love my job” and “so excited about this new ring we just got in!” If it feels like you’re genuinely excited to share, it will fit the platform best and get you the best results. If this can work for you, though, you’ll be able to share personal messages in a medium that almost no other businesses can yet. That’s a great perk.
Other than that, this Facebook feature is one of the only ones Facebook has ever created that doesn’t really feel native. At least not to me. It just doesn’t feel like it fits yet. Maybe it will once more users start actually using it frequently, but for now, your message would probably best be served on either of the two other platforms instead.
When to Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is almost always going to be a safe bet to choose. It has the most unique features like affordable ads and live video, and (as long as your profile is public, which it should be) the largest audience who could see it at any given time. Your Story could even be featured in Instagram’s Explore section, giving you enormous potential visibility.
If you choose Instagram Stories over the other two, there really isn’t anything that you lose unless you have a more solid foundation of engagement on Snapchat instead.
If you had to only choose one of these platforms to use at this exact moment, Instagram Stories is perhaps the most appealing option out of all three for most businesses. They have a more diverse and a much larger audience than Snapchat, and you may have a better chance to being discovered in the “Explore” section; you have to pay for this on Snapchat, and it doesn’t even exist on Facebook.
That being said, each platform as its own unique advantages that will benefit certain businesses more than others. If your audience is loyal to Snapchat, you should keep it in your repertoire, for example. And if you have plenty of customers as friends on Facebook, Facebook’s Stories can give you an edge up on your competitors.
Ultimately, testing each platform’s feature to see what works best for you (and watching for new features) will help you find the best ways to use each platform to benefit your business.
What do you think? If you’re deciding whether you should use Snapchat or Instagram Stories or Facebook Messenger Day, how do you choose? Which platform has worked best for you? Let us know in the comments below!