I was on instagram in october of 2010 when it launched. I can't remember exactly when I got the VSCO app but I know it was within the first month or so of its launch, too. you see, working for tech startups has its advantages like getting you early intel on what's hot and new. it's also been really interesting to watch how both platforms have changed - both the good and the not-so-good updates.
initially both apps were about the filters you could put on photos but instagram was so much better at the community aspect and I liked the UX/UI better, too so that's where I've been cataloging photos for the last 5 and a half years. I would use a VSCO filter when I wanted a true b&w looking photo (those filters were/are SO much better than IG) but either upload the photo to instagram or leave it on my camera roll.
I know many talented and creative bloggers who use the VSCO app purely for planning. I'm not sure how many actually use the editing tools but I do know they upload to their grid to see how the photo would look in their instagram feed to plan which photos to post in which order. my girls recently discovered VSCO and have been posting some seriously great photos but I couldn't figure out why they weren't posting them to instagram. I think it has something to do with the way their peers, and their virtual community, use the app - the 'need' to have X number of likes in a certain amount of time or the pressure to post a "I'm having the best time!!" or "look at me!!" photo is all too real in their world. their community isn't the nicest or most sincere. and this whole 'finstagram' (or finsta) business is no better - equally fake and pressure-filled.
when my girls post on VSCO it's purely for themselves - for the aesthetic, the memory, or even the nonsense - because there aren't any numbers or likes. it's sort of the new tumblr. it's always fun to see their posts and a glimpse into what makes them happy or even what makes them think so I decided this morning to dust off my VSCO and display all my lovely, lonely b&w photos - just for myself and for the aesthetic. because they make me happy or make me think.
and as a side note - while I think VSCO b&w filters are 'better' than instagram's I don't really use them. I've found the best way to make a photo b&w (or any edit in general) is with snapseed. the UX/UI is significantly better and the photos don't get that weird blue tint that so many filters add. it's ridiculously easy and I love the way I can see the subtle changes as I make my edits. there are some great tutorials out there but the best one I've seen is by melissa of the faux martha. it's not for b&w shots specifically but you get the gist of how to use the app.
PS - wanna know a little secret? one of the best b&w filters out there is on snapchat. seriously. if you want, you can find me over there, too. it's either @elizabethswartz or @fenwayfotos. I can never remember which one.