Snapchat vs Instagram: Where Does Your Brand Belong?
Snapchat and Instagram… In many ways, they’re incredibly similar, and yet, somehow miles apart.
Snapchat and Instagram are two of the most popular social apps, and both have a similar focus on image sharing and visual content.
Their ultimate goal? To be number one out of all social media platforms for sharing everyday photos and video updates (with the occasional boomerang here and there).
That puts them head-to-head in a battle to win your brand’s attention - and advertising dollars.
But which app should your brand call home? Let’s take a look at Snapchat’s key features and demographics before making an educated decision.
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Instagram is a social networking site that’s focused on image and video sharing.
It’s seen an enormous increase in popularity over recent years, driven by the addition of the Instagram Story feature for sharing temporary content.
TechCrunch put together a brilliant graph looking at the evolution of Instagram over the years. The social app hit one billion users in 2018.
Meanwhile, Instagram Stories hit 500 million daily active users in January 2019.
We’re looking forward to more up-to-date statistics coming from the Facebook-owned social giant!
Now let’s take a look at the number of users on Snapchat.
Snapchat has 46 million monthly active users in the US, compared to Instagram’s 121 million US users. So Instagram wins this one on the number of monthly active users.
However, their daily active users reached 218 million in Q4 2019, a 17% year-on-year increase, according to Snapchat’s end-of-year 2019 earnings report.
That’s compared to 360 million monthly active users.
So we’ve seen which has the most active users. But which app is more popular from day-to-day?
When you compare that to Instagram’s 500 million daily active users you notice that although there are fewer users overall, users are 35% more likely than Instagram users to the app every day
Snapchat encourages users to come back every day with streaks, while Instagram’s Stories refresh every day. Both apps want to be a daily habit - at least.
Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories are quite similar.
That’s because, not long after Snapchat turned down an offer from Facebook to buy the app, they started to develop Snapchat-like features in their own app, Instagram.
(Facebook owns Instagram in case you didn’t already know.)
The biggest similarity is the apps’ Stories features, because these are undeniably, very similar.
If they’re so similar, which should your brand be using and including in your social media plan? Let’s take a closer look at each.
You can view Snapchat Stories by swiping left from your camera tab. You’ll see all the Snapchat Stories your connections have posted. Each of these last 24 hours before disappearing.
Instagram Stories appear as circles on the top of your screen. They’re pictures and videos that are uploaded by users, and like on Snapchat, they only last 24 hours before disappearing.
There’s not much separating Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories - even the name is similar. However, you can save Snapchat Stories to your Memories, a feature that’s not available on Instagram.
For brands, Instagram is probably the better option, because you’re able to post content that lasts forever, not just a limited period of time, like with Snapchat.
Stories are just a feature for engaging users. Anyone who searches for your brand will be able to see all your images as soon as they land on the page.
Further reading: Instagram to launch full-screen Stories feature
We’ve seen the user numbers, but what type of users do Instagram and Snapchat attract?
Instagram was designed to be beautiful, simple, and the content shared there should be exactly the same.
That’s because users usually won’t spend more than a couple of seconds looking at your content. It might not come as a surprise that 59% of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 29.
Snapchat’s demographics are a little different. It has a huge percentage of teenage users, a whopping 77% of users aged between 18 to 24 in fact.
These can be attributed to the fun and more eccentric characteristics of the app. Snapchat tends to have a more personal feel and has a bigger focus on direct messaging, while Instagram tends to be for much more public sharing. Keep this in mind when creating content in your social media marketing calendar.
As a result, it’s more commonly used among friendship groups, as opposed to Instagram which is more commonly used for sharing content more widely with a large community.
So ask yourself this question. Does your brand want to engage with a community in public, or would you rather build relationships with individuals in private?
If you want to engage with a community in public, Instagram is the way to go, while if you’re building relationships in private channels, we’d recommend Snapchat.
Instagram has a range of features that make it a great tool for social media marketing.
Businesses and brands can take full advantage of the platform by switching to a ‘business’ account, making their page more searchable and allowing others to see direct contact information.
Instagram has also introduced a longer video format called IGTV (Instagram TV), as well as an ‘ask me anything’ story button that has already become an incredibly popular feature for influencers in particular.
Users on Instagram have their own feeds and profiles where they can share content with their following.
You can also follow Instagram accounts to create a carefully curated feed of content chosen by you. To engage with content you can ‘like’, ‘tag’, and ‘comment’ in a way that functions similarly to Facebook (go figure, they are Facebook-owned).
Instagram also allows for one-on-one communications with a private messaging system, which helps you answer customers quickly, and point them in the direction of what they need to know.
Note: Looking for advice on what you should be posting to your Instagram Business account? We can help with that! Book in for a free social media strategy session for a surge of inspiration.
Snapchat also focuses on image and video content that enables users to share media quickly and easily.
Snapchat’s most famous feature was its use of temporary content, however, now it shares the limelight with Instagram Stories, which does the same.
Friends could exchange pictures and videos that would remain for 10 seconds or less, before vanishing forever. Snapchat has made enormous developments in the last year especially, but its sweet spot is still all about sharing content between friends.
Since the introduction of Instagram’s Story feature, to directly rival Snapchat’s similar feature, Snapchat has been delving into new and exciting territory including ‘Snap Maps’ that allow you to pinpoint your friends’ location with the app.
Users are also able to replay snaps and unlock fun filters the more you use the platform.
With NBC, E! News, Harpers Bazaar, and The New York Times all creating content for the platform, Snapchat has seen huge success as a short-form serialized video platform. According to Variety, it’s also extending its 'Shows' format to popular new creators.
Further reading: Your Complete Guide to Reposting Instagram Stories
What if we broadened the net?
How does Facebook compare to Snapchat and Instagram? And what if you threw Twitter into the mix?
Here’s how we like to define the different purposes of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
This is in extremely broad strokes, but we think that it paints a helpful picture of the different types of service that each of the apps offers, and the audiences they bring your brand. The following information will inform your content calendar.
Facebook is the ultimate app for local small businesses.
Chances are, your customers are on Facebook. The app is a great place to organise your community. Build a group to keep them engaged, keep them updated, and encourage conversation.
Building a community around your company is the easiest way to drive customer advocacy - or in other words encouraging people to say nice things about your business.
Facebook is where your community shares experiences.
However, posting to Facebook isn’t what it used to be. Posts from your company account don’t have the reach they used to, which means that even if you have thousands of followers, sometimes only a couple of hundred will see your post.
And usually, it’s going to be the same couple of hundred each time. That makes it more difficult to reach new audiences through posting alone.
Twitter is an unusual, but brilliant app.
It’s a tale of two halves when it comes to engagement. It seems as if either no one is listening to what you have to say, or everyone’s listening.
That’s because Twitter’s algorithm favors high engagement more than any other app.
It takes quite a long time to build an engaged following on Twitter, but when you do, your audience will be served your posts every time they open the app.
So what types of posts do well on Twitter?
Twitter’s great for your brand to engage with news for your following, share engaging articles, share thoughts or questions that spark debate, or tell jokes.
We’ve already covered a lot of ground with our summary of Instagram, but how does it compare to Facebook and Twitter?
First of all, it’s worth remembering that Facebook owns Instagram, so there are some really striking similarities between the two apps.
Facebook and Instagram both encourage community building in a public place. Both social apps are good at providing a place where people’s interests, relationships, and general sense of where they fit in their social network, are found whenever they open the app.
But the similarities go further than that.
Instagram picks up where Facebook got left behind by younger generations. Fed up with the clutter of Facebook’s news feed, and presumably, with older generations piling into the platform, users wanted a cleaner, more focused space to share updates.
Instagram’s simple feed that encourages highly curated, beautiful photos do exactly that. In some ways, it’s a more competitive space for content than Facebook - where the run of the mill is accepted.
So in a way, Instagram almost feels like a fusion of Facebook and Snapchat. But obviously, as its user growth figures continue to rise quickly beyond one billion, it’s not a niche app.
Instagram is one of the quickest growing mainstream user social channels, second only to TikTok.
Instagram has combined the best of Facebook’s old-gen social network with Snapchat’s new-gen social network and made the perfect social app for millennials.
How does Snapchat compare to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram?
Before Instagram took on a lot of Snapchat-esque features, the social app was a bit of a black sheep.
It seemed to crop up out of nowhere, then suddenly be on the phone of everyone under 25. A bit like TikTok today.
What caused it to become so popular so quickly when you can’t even share the content online because it disappears?
It’s not a mystery. Most people don’t want everything they take a photo of to outlive them. It’s fun for your users to send a photo that they don’t need to worry about existing tomorrow.
That encourages participation in a way that Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are unable to do.
Despite Instagram’s launch of Stories, so clearly similar to Snapchat Stories, they’re tapping into similar features, however, the core reason for opening up Snapchat vs Instagram is always going to be different.
Instagram is where your customers go to find out what’s going on in their wider friendship circle. Snapchat is where your customers are developing more personal relationships with their friends
Snapchat and Instagram seem so similar at a glance, but as each network grows and develops with time, they’re each establishing a really unique stance in the marketplace.
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