Are Instagram Stories Stealing Away Snapchat Users?

On August 2, Instagram rolled out Instagram Stories in the U.S. – this is a way for users to post and share videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours. If that sounds an awful lot like Snapchat (Instagram Stories even offers a variety of emojis, filters, and basic doodling tools you can superimpose on your work), then Instagram’s plan is working. According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, Instagram Stories are supposed to mimic the features of Snapchat. The idea was to encourage higher levels of engagement on Instagram, and potentially also to attract the growing list of celebrities that currently use Snapchat to share glimpses into their daily lives with millions of fans worldwide.

The question is, did Instagram’s ploy work? We looked at user data (among U.S. adults, ages 18+) for both apps between August 2 and August 28.

The Story in the Numbers: No Measurable Difference

In brief, the answer is no: our daily data does not show any measurable difference in Instagram or Snapchat’s user numbers or engagement figures. Even looking at the days immediately following the release of Instagram Stories on August 2 shows no discernable increase in user numbers or engagement. In fact, Snapchat shows a spike in user engagement (time spent in app as well as number of sessions per user) in early August – perhaps this reflects loyal users flocking to Snapchat in reaction to Instagram’s news?

Two Apps, Two Different User Bases

Beyond the initial user numbers and engagement figures, however, we see some notable data around both Snapchat and Instagram. Interestingly enough, both Instagram and Snapchat have the same stickiness rating of 47% (stickiness is Verto Analytics’ own way of measuring user engagement with a given app or website, by comparing daily users to monthly users to quantify the most engaged users). But digging into each app’s user demographics reveals some key differences.

While Instagram and Snapchat users both skew female, our data shows some especially profound differences between the two app user bases when we break things down along demographic lines. In fact, in the 45 to 54 year old age group, we see a massively female-leaning audience: 93% of Snapchat and 82% of Instagram users in that age range are female. This discrepancy is reflected in users for all other age categories – only the youngest adult users (those between the ages of 18 and 24) show a user base that comes close to approaching gender parity: in that age category, there are actually more male Instagram users (54%) as well as Snapchat users (59%).

A Crossover Audience?

If Instagram is trying to attract Snapchat users to cross over to its Stories platform, it’s got a lot more work to do. But it’s also got a solid user base to work from – our data shows that 75% of Snapchat users also use Instagram (compared to 45% of Instagram users that also use Snapchat). But obviously, simply releasing a copycat app isn’t going to do the trick – Instagram has struggled with engagement in the past; to make Stories succeed, it needs to be able to support the viral discoverability that drives Snapchat content, and it needs to make it as easy as possible to post content to the Stories feed. Instagram has already spun off a few other functions into standalone apps (Layout, Hyperlapse). Will Stories get the same treatment?

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