Breaking Down the Snapchat-Instagram War

Instagram and Snapchat are chief among the millennial social media obsessions. In the past, the two apps were often compared and even had a bit of competition. After all, they are both image and video based, both relatively new but growing quickly. When Instagram launched Instagram Stories, though, they started a full-on war with their rival Snapchat. If you’re not familiar with the platforms, both Instagram and Snapchat Stories consist of images and up-to-10-second videos that can be posted by a user for a 24-hour period of time.

Originally, Stories were Snapchat’s territory as well as its claim to fame.  When Instagram blatantly lifted the offering, it left Snapchat with little to set it apart. This might create a problem for Snapchat and might have confounded the users of apps, but where does it leave marketers? Furthermore, what does the creation of Instagram Stories tell us about the current and future state of social media marketing?

Whether you’re CNN or a small business, there are profitable ways to incorporate these channels into your strategy. And, no matter what, as a marketer the state of these social media favorites will affect how you communicate with your audience.

So, let’s take a deep dive into both of these platforms.


Instagram versus Snapchat

Instagram – The Artsy, Brand Awareness Platform

While videos and Stories are present on Instagram, it is focused primarily on static images. Typically, these images are stylized, artistic, and edited via filters. The end effect is, often, the ability to showcase your brand in creative and engaging ways. More than that, though, the images are a permanent part of your brand, allowing users to scroll through your posts from months and years ago.

Some other major advantages Instagram has over Snapchat include the public platform and, correspondingly, hashtag usage. Brands can either take advantage of relevant or trending hashtags or create their own hashtags, allowing them to capture the interest of a wider audience and potentially inspire conversations and user-generated content.

The fact that Instagram has been around a bit longer, is more user-friendly, and has ties to Facebook makes it more popular for those outside of the millennial age group. In fact, its connection to Facebook makes advertising on Instagram relatively seamless while native advertising on Instagram is both common and accepted by users.

The downside of Instagram is mainly drawn from the same thing that sets it apart—its permanence. Knowing an image will disappear in 10 seconds, as it does on Snapchat, may cause viewers to pay a little more attention to it.

Instagram’s Most Important Metrics (courtesy of Adespresso):

  • 400 million monthly active users
  • 75 million daily users
  • An average of 80 million photos posted daily
  • The like button gets clicked 5 billion times a day
  • The average user spends 21 minutes a day on Instagram
  • 41% of users are ages 16-24, but 35% of users are 24-34
  • 75% of users are outside the US
  • Their engagement has surpassed Twitter’s

Snapchat – The Personal, Action-Oriented Platform

When Snapchat was released in 2011, its method of image sharing was unprecedented but simple. It allowed users to send images directly through the app to other users. The catch? The images disappeared after a pre-set amount of time. Five years later, Snapchat has evolved. The Stories feature, which allows users to select ‘Snaps’ (i.e., images or videos) to appear publically for 24 hours, surpassed the private messaging service in popularity in 2014. (The Verge)

While Snapchat’s story feature may be old news by now, the app does have a relatively new ad platform (AdEspresso) that should get marketers excited. With the ability to both advertise and offer coupons on Snapchat, this platform could provide the impetus you need to move your audience to action.

Additionally, Snapchat is growing quickly, especially amongst the millennial age group. As stated above, Snapchat has the exclusive ability to create urgency with its 10-second viewing window. This can create a limited opportunity for impact, though, because messages disappear and the impact of repeated messages is lessened or eliminated.

Snapchat’s Most Important Metrics (courtesy of Adespresso):

  • Estimated daily active users: 100+ million
  • Number of Snaps sent each day: 400 million
  • Percentage of users that are women: 70%
  • Core users’ ages: 13-24 years old; only 14% aren’t in millennial age group
  • 77% of college students use Snapchat
  • Up to 8x the amount of US 13-34 year-olds watch live Stories of an event vs the same event on TV
  • There are more than 8 billion video views every day on the platform.
  • Only 1% of advertisers are using Snapchat for marketing

Keeping an Eye on the Future of Snapchat & Instagram

When considering how to integrate Snapchat and Instagram into your marketing strategy, the components to consider are eerily similar to nearly every other marketing tactic – audience and goals. While both have a strong millennial user base, Instagram will provide marketers with a bit wider of an audience. As for goals, Instagram is ideal for engagement and brand awareness, while Snapchat will help to drive action and create more personal connections with your audience.

The more substantial question, though, is what can the emphasis on the Stories feature tell us about the future of social? Instagram’s decision to adopt (or steal, some might say) Snapchat’s Stories is about more than just encroaching on a competitor’s advantage. Instead, it emphasizes the growing role that candid video and personalized communication are beginning to play in marketing communications. You can see the same trend with Facebook Live as well as Twitter’s growing video offerings. Overall, the money is on candid, personal videos. Snapchat hit the nail on the head with its Stories feature, and other major social platforms are catching on.



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Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Facebook vs Google: Choosing Between Digital Advertising Giants to discover why Facebook advertising gives marketers a better bang for their buck.

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