Snapchat vs Instagram: Business Marketing Edition

Successful branding in the age of social media is a coveted trophy. As tools for connectivity multiplied, brands reached out to creative agencies hoping to forge direct connections with audiences on social media. They employed various tactics such as viral trends and memes, and caught on to the general buzz to achieve this objective. The central piece in the puzzle of branding is mastering effective social media marketing strategies. The understanding behind this is that when brands tell engaging stories and stay connected with their audiences in real-time, it becomes significantly easier to build a community of loyal consumers. Although numerous brands invested billions in pursuing this vision, a very limited number of them succeeded in accomplishing it, owing to a lack of understanding of social media platforms.

With the sudden surge in digital media users, came the advent of new social networks that dramatically altered how the digital culture works. For instance, when Snapchat introduced the feature of streaks, the app became a ubiquitous part of most peoples’ daily routine where users got an opportunity to tell their ordinary story in an extraordinary manner. Similarly, taking photos for Instagram and polishing them using filters helped eternalize everyday moments that would otherwise be missed. The filters gave users instant gratification through a boost of likes making it an addictive daily fixture in people’s lives. 

However, the real challenge for brands is not identifying what reigns supreme in the battle between Snapchat vs Instagram but identifying how to become a part of the online culture. Old Spice, for example, did not succeed simply because they chose Facebook as their platform to advertise, but because they identified the cultural opportunity and used it to their benefit. 

instagram vs snapchat

What you communicate is just as important (some would argue more important than) as where you communicate. Businesses need to invest their time in understanding what conversations have been going around before they start to communicate on social media platforms. The socially aware audience on social media platforms lacks tolerance for unaware brands and is known to be quick in making judgments. Brands, therefore, need to have their content verified by PR professionals so that they ensure their communication does not backfire. Once you understand what content you’d like to communicate, you can start thinking about which platform you’d like to do it on.

Considering the intensity of audience engagement, it is no surprise that brands spend ample time discussing the benefits of Snapchat vs Instagram, and which would be a better fit for their digital marketing strategy. However, to find out which one works best for your business it becomes important to analyze the apps based on the features and statistics, so you can successfully realize your business objectives. The objective of both Instagram and Snapchat is to encourage their user base to share photos and video updates every day. With such seemingly fine lines of difference, both the apps might seem replaceable, but you’d be surprised to know that they are unique in many ways. Before we list down the pros and cons that help you decide whether you should choose Snapchat or Instagram or both for your brand, here is a basic overview of both the apps for the unacquainted:-

Snapchat

snapchat or instagram

To put it simply Snapchat is a messaging app that allows you to take photos, videos, and voice messages that are referred to as “Snaps” and share them with your friends. This visual content can be made more interesting with the use of filters, texts, and drawings. The app also allows you to add AR-based lenses to your snaps, and show your live location on a world map. It frequently updates its features making it exciting to re-discover even for a regular user. Snapchat was initially designed to enable person-to-person photo sharing, focusing on private conversations. Now, however, the app can be used for a range of different tasks including sending short videos, live video chatting, messaging, creating caricature-like Bitmoji avatars, and sharing a chronological “story” that’s broadcasted to all your followers. There is also a “Discovery” section that  showcases short-form content by major publishers such as Buzzfeed. 

instagram vs snapchat

The key feature and Snapchat’s major differentiator is that, unlike Instagram, the photos and videos you send are only visible for a few seconds before they disappear forever. Unlike other apps, Snapchat didn’t allow for the accumulation of data and hence changed the way people communicate online. Despite this evanescent feature, people have found ways to access the permanently deleted content from Snapchat. However, if you are focused on creating the right content, it won’t matter to you even if the viewer takes a screenshot of your story.

Since Snapchat’s evolving popularity shows no signs of waning, here are some tips that you can use to build your band on Snapchat:-

snapchat or instagram
  • Work with influencers on Snapchat to boost your brand’s exposure and visibility among your audiences. Influencers are knowledgeable with regard to social media algorithms and are trusted by audiences for creative and entertaining content.
  • Upload content regularly to be a part of your audience’s daily conversations. You can showcase what it is like to work at your company or upload images of upcoming or existing products to keep the conversation going. Showcasing the behind-the-scenes footage of your company humanizes your brand and helps consumers gain insight beyond what is typically advertised.
  • Just as it is important to keep posting, it is equally important to interact with your users using the messaging feature. The same applies to returning snaps. 
  • Offer rewards, contests, and coupons incentivize users to always engage with your brand’s Snapchat account.
  • Create product previews through unboxing videos. This will help potential customers understand how to use the product and encourage sales through product reviews.     

Instagram

instagram vs snapchat

Differentiating between Snapchat vs Instagram becomes challenging for businesses especially because similar to Snapchat, Instagram too is a social media platform that emphasizes photo and video sharing. 

One of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook-owned Instagram can help brands take, edit, and publish visual content for followers to interact with through likes, comments, and shares. Instagram helps users share beautiful pictures using filters and encourages them to not miss out on the moment by sharing it with friends and family. This makes Instagram an intimate social media network. 

The app keeps its users engaged by connecting them with their near and dear ones through more permanent visual updates. Instagram also allows users to connect with their favorite celebrities and role models. The platform has become a new home for brands as it boasts of high user engagement and brand loyalty of the followers, which makes it easier to achieve real business goals. While battling between Snapchat vs Instagram one must also consider Sanpchat’s initial reputation – as an app used to share photographs that you wouldn’t otherwise want to save. However, these claims have been denied by the founder Evan Spiegel. 

Instagram is also more user-friendly as compared to Snapchat since it allows you to build effective marketing strategies. With the right Instagram marketing strategy, businesses can promote products and services, boost their brand, and increase sales. 

To create a business account on Instagram, you need to first create a personal account and then convert it. When signing up on Instagram for business, it is recommended that you use the email designated specifically for your business’s social media accounts. Among posts, ads, and stories, the potential marketing tools for Instagram are numerous. Instagram has evolved over the years to enable on-platform e-commerce sales allowing businesses to directly make money from using it. Here are some tips to optimize your Instagram account for your business:-

snapchat or instagram
  • If you wish to drive users and viewers to your website, the only place to do it is on your profile (bio.) Links don’t work in captions or photo comments. Instead, you can mention in your caption that the link is in your profile or bio. 
  • Ensure that the content you share on Instagram is relevant to your brand. It can be tempting to share pictures of food, fashion, or animals because they are popular on the platform. However if these are not relatable to your business, it can confuse your followers.  
  • Interact with your users by responding to their comments. This lets them know that you care about what your followers have to say and you will be more likely to retain them if they feel valued. 
  • Use polls and other features on Instagram to get feedback on your content or products. These interactive question stickers on Instagram stories is a fun and simple way to communicate with your audiences and directly get their opinion.
  • Make use of Instagram reels which are short-form videos no longer than 15 seconds. Reels are a recent addition to Instagram that could be used to feature new products, highlight your employees or recent work, or engage directly with customers. You can even edit your Reels with audio, effects, and creative tools.   

Despite its compelling features, marketers still have still not resolved the debate of Snapchat vs Instagram with respect to brand building and customer engagement. To further simplify the  Snapchat vs Instagram debate, let’s analyze the following essential parameters that are important for businesses:-

User Base

When comparing Instagram vs Snapchat perhaps the most important factor is the size of the user base on these platforms. According to the latest official data, Instagram boasts of one billion monthly active users globally. As of now, the country with the largest number of Instagram users is the United States at 120 million, followed by India at 80 million. Instagram also hosts more than 500 million active users daily, making it rank second to Facebook. 

instagram vs snapchat

These numbers far outrank Snapchat which reported 238 million daily active users in 2020. The number of snaps created daily exceeds 4 billion. In terms of user growth rate, while Snapchat seems to have slowed down, Instagram appears to steadily grow. With regard to the user base for Snapchat vs Instagram, the latter seems to be more popular among its users. It took Snapchat 6 years to hit 150 million daily active users. On the other hand, Instagram’s story feature surpassed that milestone in 8 months from launch date. If the size of the user base is your most crucial parameter then think no more of the  Snapchat vs Instagram debate – the latter provides an enormous opportunity to tap into an increasing fan base.

Age of Audiences

Before determining where your brand belongs in the Snapchat vs Instagram battle, it is important to know who your target audience is and where you can reach them. While both Snapchat and Instagram have a young audience base, Snapchat is especially popular with Generation Z. More than 82% of all Snapchat users are 34 years old or younger. 

snapchat or instagram

However, Instagram outperforms Snapchat for Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and beyond. Interestingly, more than one-third of Snapchat users cannot be found on Instagram, thus signifying a sign of user exclusivity in the platform. So, if you aim to target younger audiences for your brand, Snapchat seems like a great option as active users spend at least 30 minutes per day on the platform. 

More than 60% of the young user base on the platform are likely to make an impulse purchase on the platform. However, Instagram offers the ability to reach a wider audience base. Additionally, because Instagram is integrated with Facebook, making campaigns on both platforms becomes incredibly simple. Snapchat is better suited for brands that aim to create humorous ad content owing to its features and custom effects that better appeal to the younger age demographic. One can choose between the two platforms on gauging their audience base – and what demographics they are catering to, Snapchat for the younger crowd, and Instagram for a larger target audience.

Content-Type

As both Snapchat and Instagram focus on sharing visual content in the form of photos and videos, there is often a misconception that there is little to no difference between the two platforms. When thinking of  Snapchat vs Instagram, it is important to acknowledge the difference in the content types. While the posts on Instagram are filtered, edited, and polished, those on Snapchat are often raw and unedited. 

instagram vs snapchat

When it comes to creativity with filters in the Snapchat vs Instagram debate, the former is unbeatable. Snapchat is especially unique with its filters and animations. Although Instagram has tried to create nearly identical filters, Snapchat’s effects are unmatched. If a Snapchatter uses a dog filter, they not only look like a dog but also move like one. This makes the filters on Snapchat goofier and fun. Snapchat also offers options to add effects of augmented reality to your pictures – something Instagram has not caught on with yet.

Ad Features

instagram vs snapchat

When choosing between Snapchat or Instagram, consider each platform’s advertising features. Both platforms offer powerful targeting tools and have several ad formats to choose from. The number of businesses advertising on Instagram grew to more than a million when the platform introduced ads in late 2015. As Instagram is owned by Facebook, businesses find it easier to create ads on the platform with the use of Facebook Ads Manager. Even though Snapchat recently launched its self-serve Snapchat Ad Manager, its advertising is comparatively restrictive. Here is a list comparing the key aspects of advertising between Snapchat and  Instagram to see which performs better:-

  • Targeting: Both social media platforms are quite similar with their targeting. With the ad managers for both Snapchat and Instagram, a business can create targeted ads with factors such as demographics, interests, and behaviors. Businesses can also use their data to reach their target audiences such as people who have interacted with their brand and potential customers.    
  • Ad Formats: Instagram ad formats include feed ads, stories’ ads, and boosting existing posts. Ads for Snapchat include Snap ads, geofilters, and lenses. It is easier to make ads for Instagram as compared to Snapchat. The latter requires some knowledge in designing, and creating sponsored lenses requires you to work with a Snapchat partner which can be a big monetary investment.
  • Costs: Although it is slightly challenging to compare the costs of advertising on the two platforms, in general, it is cheaper to advertise on Instagram than it is on Snapchat. One can only hope that with the launch of Snapchat Ads Manager the cost of advertising on the platform will be gradually lowered.

Analytics

instagram vs snapchat

Analytics is therefore an important factor in measuring the success of a marketing strategy. Interestingly, in the Snapchat vs Instagram debate the latter (Instagram) makes it much easier to measure and analyse your digital performance. It provides business profiles with Instagram Insights, which is in-built app analytics for posts, stories, ads, and followers. On the contrary, Snapchat does not provide any analytics except for ads which mean most marketers have to track their performance manually. There are also numerous free third-party analytics tools for Instagram whereas those for Snapchat are both limited in number and come with a cost.  


To conclude, while Instagram seems to win in the Snapchat vs Instagram battle for businesses, several marketers argue that brands have to establish a presence on both platforms to ensure they reach out to a vast audience base and for better engagement. Remember, along with the platform that you choose to go ahead with, the quality of the content that you create on them is equally important. Audiences need to feel that your online presence is genuine and relatable for them to interact with you. It is also important for brands to identify their target audiences to ensure that their investment in these social media platforms is not wasted.

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