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Instagram or Snapchat: Selfie Filter Battle Edition

By: Eleanor Pierce
Instagram or Snapchat
Can you even tell which is which?

“At the end of the day, just because Yahoo has a search box, it doesn’t mean they’re Google.”

So says Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.

So, I guess the logic follows: Instagram Stories now has selfie filters, but that doesn’t make it Snapchat.

The new feature is available on iOS and Android now—if you haven’t gotten it yet, you probably just need to update your app. It’s only available within the stories function, not within the main Instagram share.

What anyone who’s used Snapchat (and likely many who haven’t) will notice: They are remarkably similar to Snapchat’s selfie filters. It’s not a subtle riff. It’s a pretty blatant rip-off and one that follows a series of rip-offs.

It was only a few months back that Instagram rolled out stories, a feature that allows users to share slideshows, send direct/disappearing stories and videos and add custom décor to the top of your photos and videos.

We wanted to get some early reviews on this latest update, so we went to a few of the most active social media users in the office—all of whom, it should be noted, tend to favor Snapchat as channels for posting content, if not for consuming it.

First up, our all-star office manager, Jane Mutch—a prolific Snapchat selfie filter user, and all around Snapchat queen

It’s fun, but it’s just like Snapchat. Copy copy copycat. I think they’re making Instagram a little more cheap, honestly.

For me, I think of Snapchat as more for fun, just something you use for a quick post. Instagram was more for high-end pictures and photography, not making it so … I don’t know, silly. They’re downgrading Instagram a little with this I think.

I mean, I look at Instagram all the time, I follow tons of people, I put pictures on periodically. This won’t make me use Instagram more. I want to see cool pictures, cool food there. More like mini-commercials. I use Snapchat for the silly stuff. Funny hellos and greetings to my friends and family, people I’m closer with. The people I follow on Instagram won’t want that type of post.

Next, we asked Kelly Gutt, our senior graphic designer—that’s her in the side-by-side selfie filter comparison photo

Can you tell by my face which one I like better? The ones on Snapchat put makeup on me! That’s why you use the filters.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever use Instagram stories. For one, it just seems complicated. Also, I have more than just my friends following me on Instagram. It’s not like I’m a big deal, but I figure they don’t all care what I’m doing day-to-day. It comes down to friends vs. more of a bigger audience I guess.

For me, I just use the platforms completely differently, with different audiences. My Instagram is more curated, with photos and graphic design work, that sort of thing. It’s more of a promotion tool vs. me being stupid with my friends. I don’t necessarily want to put that on an Instagram story. It doesn’t relate to what my Instagram account is for and what I use it for.

Now if I used Instagram differently, that might be a different story. I can understand why a blogger, a brand or public figure would use Instagram stories. You don’t have to ask them to follow you on two different platforms for different types of connection.

And personally, I don’t use the other Snapchat features—Discover and news. Occasionally if I’m bored I’ll click through, but I don’t interact with brands on Snapchat.

We also checked in with LSB account supervisor Megan Henkel

Can I be honest and just say I didn’t find Instagram stories to be intuitive. The fact that you have different options to upload a photo or video to your page vs. posting on your story.

And really… why can’t Instagram stay in their lane? How does one decide when to use Snapchat vs. Instagram stories when they do the same thing? Oh, and then there’s Facebook trying to creep in on the two. YOU JUST CAN’T SIT WITH US, FACEBOOK.

The whole promise of Snapchat is that it’s a fleeting memory that helps you get a glimpse of the real moments in our lives. There are thousands of things we do in a day that we want to share with these people, but they aren’t beautifully curated, nor should they be. They’re authentic and they happen naturally—as unglamorous as they may sometimes be—they feel real.

The problem with stories on Instagram is that it’s trying to bridge the gap between fully curated and uncurated. It doesn’t have the same vibe. And, like everything on Instagram, it feels like work.

For influencers, it appears to be a bit of a dumping ground. I went through at least 20 stories from my favorite influencers, and there was a lot of opening boxes of free goodies from brands and saying “Ohh, I just got this purse from so and so.” I mean, I know it’s not paid and that the brand’s hope is that the influencer will use product and post about it later.

Instagram or Snapchat? Depends.

So what does all this deep analysis indicate about how all of this will play out for the two social behemoths?

Snapchat likely engenders more loyalty from the people who are really into it because of subtle differences and because of the perceived intimacy of purpose of the channel.

That said, Snapchat continues to have a bit of a niche audience. And even more importantly, Instagram continues to be more brand-friendly. And that means that when it really comes down to what matters for the longevity of a social channel (hint: It keeps the lights on), Instagram will continue to win.

Eleanor Pierce


Ellie helps brands tell their stories and connect with their targets on a variety of channels. She's a former journalist who has dabbled in everything from events planning to PR to inbound marketing for both B2C and B2B enterprises. She loves the New Yorker fiction podcast and has never successfully executed a cartwheel.

Read more from Eleanor Pierce



Culture, Digital, Social Media

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