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Instagram vs. Snapchat: Which One Should You Use?

By: Elite Legacy Education, January 15, 2018

With so many social media platforms out there, which one should you be focusing your time and effort on? Given your finite amount of resources, the big question is this. Should you be using Snapchat, Instagram or both for growing your business? After all, the two apps are quite similar when you think about it. With that said, let’s take a deeper dive into these dueling companies.


The great battle between Facebook and Snapchat.


The battle between Facebook and Snapchat is no secret. Turns out, it all started with rejection shortly after Snapchat turned down Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer. Since then, Mark Zuckerberg has essentially been mimicking core Snapchat features and implementing them into his main platforms – Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. First, we witnessed the release of Instagram Stories, which is basically identical to Snapchat’s My Story. Now, Facebook Messenger even has a similar feature which seems to have come out of the blue. Either way, these are clear indicators that Zuckerberg is working to implement features similar to ones that were once unique to Snapchat’s platform. Here we are going to focus on Instagram as a direct competitor to Snapchat given the two platforms are very visual in nature.


Features that are shared by Instagram and Snapchat.


At one point in time, the two social media apps had only a few select features in common. Now however, it seems that they share more in common with each day that passes. Consider the following:


  • Private messaging: You can send private messages directly to other users on each platform. However, Snapchat differs in that its messages will disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds. Messages sent through Instagram on the other hand will not disappear unless deleted.
  • Broadcast messaging: This is seen through the similar “Story” functionality on each platform. Both apps now allow you to post real-time photos or videos that anyone can see.
  • Filters, stickers and on-photo drawing abilities: Each platform has various options for editing photos. On Instagram, you can edit posts on your profile, as well as in your Stories. This involves using color filters, stickers and other drawing tools. However, Snapchat still boasts its unique selfie filters, which is one of its most popular features.


So as you can see, the two platforms share many common features, although there may be slightly variations within each.



Features that are unique to Instagram.


Instagram started out as a place to post visually appealing and polished photos. Over time, it has started to include features similar to the messaging app, Snapchat. We know that these messaging-based features were implemented to mimic Snapchat. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the features that are unique to Instagram.


  • Personal Profile: This is one of the core differentiators between Instagram and Snapchat. The ability to create a custom profile on Instagram allows users to make posts that are permanent. In other words, they won’t disappear after 10 seconds, or even 24 hours.
  • Hashtags: While you can use hashtags on Snapchat, they don’t become clickable links as they do on Instagram. This is a huge benefit for businesses using Instagram since hashtags can be used to strategically drive traffic to one’s posts and profiles.
  • Live Story: Instagram took the “Story” feature a step further by allowing for live broadcasts. Now, users have the ability to run a livestream video, similar to Facebook Live, where anyone can tune in and participate.


These features add a completely new dimension to Instagram as compared to Snapchat.



Why Instagram may be better than Snapchat for your business.


If you had to choose either Instagram or Snapchat for marketing purposes, we generally recommend that you pursue Instagram.


1) Established following. On Instagram, you’ve likely already built up a following. It is much easier to broadcast your stories to an audience you already have. Various studies have proven that Instagram posts generate a much greater reach compared to Snapchat posts. This is due to the very essence of each platform. Snapchat began mainly as a private messaging app, whereas Instagram was based on a public, artistic profile meant to be discovered by others. As you can see, Snapchat could be considered more of a personal communication app in this sense.


2) Increased reach to new users. Instagram makes it much easier to reach new users compared to Snapchat. On Instagram you can discover new profiles through the “Explore” tab or by searching others who have used a hashtag. Again, it comes down to the very essence of each platform. Instagram is designed to make it easy to discover and connect with other users compared to Snapchat.


3) Advertising is more accessible. As of right now, advertising on Instagram is more accessible. Some advertising options on Snapchat either cost you a fortune, or require that you cooperate with specific development partners to create ads. Also, consumers report that they prefer Instagram ads over Snapchat ads. This is mainly based on the fact that Instagram ads are better integrated into the user experience. If you’ve seen the two ad types on each platform, you’ll know that Instagram ads appear in a similar format to regular posts by other users. Snapchat however, will interrupt a stream of stories and play the ad until it is completed. Basically, Instagram allows you to scroll past it while Snapchat makes you sit through it.



On a final note – consider your audience and business objectives.


Although we’ve argued for the use of Instagram, we’re not recommending that you avoid Snapchat. There are certain cases where Snapchat may be preferred. It really comes down to your particular audience and business objectives.


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