A few weeks ago, we released an article on Instagram and the ways in which you can utilize the social platform to promote your rescue, build your brand image, and get animals adopted.
We were planning on writing a similar article for Snapchat given its growing popularity and the fact that we do see more rescues getting on the platform. However, with Instagram’s major new update, Stories, we believe this definitely throws the need for rescues to get on Snapchat for a bit of a loop. So we've decided to shift the focus of this article to instead lay out the specifics of how you can use Instagram Stories, and its pros/cons in comparison to Snapchat.
But first we should probably set the stage by explaining what Snapchat actually is. So first, a little history....
Snapchat launched in 2011 and, like most tech products, was pretty basic when it started. Essentially it allowed you to send messages that, once read, disappeared (hence the ghost mascot and the reference to messages as mere "snaps").
Fast-forward 5 years and it's now one of the fastest growing (if not the fastest, depending on how you define it) social platforms out there, especially among younger consumers. So there's no denying that the platform has a ton of value and will continue to over time (after all, the company rebuffed a huge acquisition deal from Facebook, so they know they have something good).
So what is Snapchat and what does the platform actually do?
Snapchat - like Instagram - is exclusively a mobile app (meaning you need to push content through the app directly from your phone) and allows you to take and embellish photos and share them. In trying to explain the app (which we don't feel is quite as intuitive as some others out there) let's break it down into 3 'sections': Stories, Chats, and the recently launched Memories feature.
- Stories is one of the places that you can send your photos after you take them in the Snapchat app. When you send a picture to Stories, it remains live (i.e. 'accessible' by your followers) for 24 hours, and allows your followers to view the pictures as often as they want to within those 24 hours. To send a pic to Stories, you just snap the photo in the app, and then, after you hit the 'arrow' button you choose to save it to "My Story" instead of (or in addition to) sending it as a direct chat or saving to "My Memories"
- Chats are most similar to Snapchat when it first started. You can either take a picture first and then send it to your friends individually or in groups OR you can go to the chat section and just direct message someone directly either with a picture or just text (though if you do this you can only message one person at a time).
- Memories: Finally, Memories is the newest feature from Snapchat (and some see it as perhaps undermining the real competitive advantage of Snapchat which is its 'disappearing' nature). Memories allows you to save your snaps for as long as you like, by adding them to a "Memories" roll (somewhat akin to the Facebook newsfeed, though that's a pretty loose analogy).
Snapchat v. Instagram: which platform is better for your rescue?
We admit, we're being a little provocative with this title as there really is no 'better' or 'worse' per se, just what will help you meet your goals or not.
For example, if you are looking to grow your follower base then IG is a better way to go, simply because you can use hashtags to gain followers and it's possible that your profile will be suggested in people's IG feed, whereas this type of "feed" feature doesn't exist in Snapchat (yet). However, if one of your goals is to have your rescue be known as the cutting-edge, tech-savvy rescue, getting on Snapchat now is probably a good idea.
What we do recommend, all else being equal, is that, unless you have the time to dedicate to managing a Snapchat account (and we admit we love the platform but it does take some time to learn) stick with IG. Here's why:
IG Stories is eerily similar to Snapchat (Mashable has a great comparison article if you're interested in the details). The new feature allows you to capture a live picture or video, write or draw on it, and then post it to your followers, after which it will disappear after 24 hours. So you essentially get the benefit of Snapchat Stories without the need to learn a new platform
Because IG separated their version of Stories from everything else in your IG feed, the stories you create on IG won't interfere with the more "professional" aesthetic of your Instagram photos and won't overwhelm your followers (because your story will appear as a small icon at the top of the app, not in the feed itself)
Next, if you're already on IG as a rescue, you likely have a decent follower base that's going to be ready and willing to engage with your story immediately. Compare this to Snapchat where only those that know about your handle (which you'd need to advertise through other sites like Facebook or on your rescue org website) will be able to find you and follow your story
- Finally, and perhaps most important to rescues, the IG story feature is just easier. You likely won't need to spend more than 2 minutes to figure it out, whereas Snapchat is likely going to take a bit more time to learn
So you're pumped to try out Instagram Stories right? Here's how to get started!
The Instagram Stories feature is located at the top section of your news feed. The section will have circles representing the profiles you follow who have an active story (if nothing shows up it means none of the people your rescue is following have anything to share). You can scroll through this section to view all of the active stories.
To create your own story, follow these 3 easy steps:
1. Press the small button with a plus sign on the top left corner of the screen. This will prompt the camera feature, allowing you to take a video or picture.
2. Once you've taken the photo/video, you can choose to draw or add text to the photo. The letter symbol at the top of the screen will add text, and the pen symbol is to draw.
3. When you’re finished, press the arrow button on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to post your story.
Now your followers can see your story in the Stories section or by going to your profile, and clicking your profile picture. Stories are a great way to get your followers involved in your rescue's live events (like fundraisers or adoption drives) without flooding your "regular" IG feed with too much content
A final word on Snapchat ...
So yes, it's likely true that Snapchat is not going to be worth your time in its current form, especially now that IG has stories. But the only real truth out there is that social platforms seem to introduce major features and change on a weekly, if not daily, basis, so it's very possible that within just a few months, Snapchat may be more appropriate for your rescue to use.
Regardless of what happens in the future though, even if you aren't set on using the program yet, the actual photo-taking capability in Snapchat is a great way to create funny pictures using filters, stickers and text. In other words, the photo editing technology of Snapchat is pretty fun and has a lot of value in and of itself
So if you have the time, or simply want a distraction, then download Snapchat and learn what all the fuss is about. You never know, it might become your favorite social platform.
Interested in learning more about Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or social media in general? We're here to help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set up time to chat!