Instagram has become firmly embedded in our social media landscape, and with 500 million monthly users and 150 million users using the platform every day, it is certainly one of the most popular networks across the globe.

With the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016, the platform became a direct competitor to Snapchat. Enabling users to take images or record video that remains live for 24 hours, Instagram continues to give headline billing for this feature.

With two such seemingly similar tools, how are the platforms different from each other?

Sorting: Snapchat displays snaps and user updates chronologically, whereas Instagram displays updates from Stories depending on which users you interact with. Stories from your favorite Instagrammers will be displayed at the start of the feed, and there is an automatic progression from one story to the next.

Drawing tools: Instagram’s drawing tools seem to be more advanced when compared to Snapchat. With new features like geotagged captions, fonts and scribble borders, Instagram’s drawing tools are more versatile.

Geo filters: Instagram recently introduced geofilter options, something that had previously been a big draw for users of Snapchat. We’ve seen special filters linked to events like the Olympics on Snapchat, with users also given the ability to make and submit their own custom filters. Similarly, Snapchat allows users to use Bitemoji within their snaps, creating custom digital versions of themselves. These are two features not currently available on Instagram.

Live streaming: Instagram has embraced the popularity of live streaming; enabling users to broadcast in real-time on the platform. Perfect for launches and to live stream events, Snapchat does not offer this functionality.

Shelf life: Instagram Stories only allows pictures from your camera roll that have been taken in the past 24 hours. Snapchat enables posting of photos from any date, a feature that is a big draw for users who want to share throwback posts and archive material. Both platforms similarly allow users to download snaps and save for future use.

Other features: with the integration of Boomerang direct into Instagram, users can now create short video GIFs and post video updates to other social media platforms. It’s another great way to create instant reactions.

Engagement: higher levels of interaction have been reported on Instagram Stories, a trend that can be attributed to more users and the novelty factor of a new tool. Publishers like Vogue recently used the Stories functionality to cover President Trump’s inauguration, linking the content to traditional reporting in order to maximize exposure and reach.

So which platform should you choose? Both platforms are strikingly similar, and as brands and as individual users, it’s important to experiment with both. Assess where you see the biggest reach and where you experience the largest levels of engagement. Don’t abandon one platform for the other, and instead focus on creating content that is unique to both platforms. This will not only help you develop the content you are producing, but will also provide you with a measured insight over time into which platform is best for your audience.

What are your thoughts on Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.