Instagram Vs. Snapchat - What You Need To Know?

Regarding social media marketing, knowing where to broadcast your message is arguably just as important as the message itself. Your goal is to talk to as many people as you can, so it stands to reason that you should go with the network(s) that users are actively engaged in. For the last several years, this has been video and photo app Snapchat.

However, things may be in the process of changing right before our eyes.

Instagram has always been a popular network, but it's actually grown over the last year in particular in ways that few really predicted. Not only is it amassing more engaged users as time goes on, but it's been doing particularly well in demographics that Snapchat previously dominated.

The Power of a Good Story

Perhaps the most important event in the battle between Instagram and Snapchat was the launch of the "Instagram Stories" feature. In many ways, it's very similar to Snapchat's "Story" feature - users can share as many photos or videos as they want, putting everything together in a slideshow format that exists separately from their larger profile. Users have access to a wide range of different drawing and text tools to help bring their story to life, and because a story doesn't get added to a profile, they don't have to worry about annoying their friends via overposting.

Interestingly, the launch of this "Instagram Stories" feature is timed almost perfectly with a rapid decline in Snapchat's own user base. In early 2016, Snapchat was in a terrific position - it was still growing at a good pace, and it was getting ready to launch its IPO:

  • In Q2 of 2016, Snapchat had a "quarter-over-quarter" growth rate of 17.2%.
  • In Q3 of 2016, "Snapchat Stories" launched.
  • In Q3 of 2016, Snapchat had a "quarter-over-quarter" growth rate of just 7%.
  • Q4 of 2016 was actually worse - Snapchat's growth fell to just 3.2%.

To put these numbers into perspective, in Q4 of 2016 Snapchat had 158 million active daily users. At the same time, Instagram Stories had already reached 150 million daily active users on its own. Snapchat representatives insist that many technical issues caused these problems rather than direct competition, but in this case, the numbers are too compelling to ignore.

The Importance of the Platform

Even going beyond "Instagram Stories," there are many reasons why Instagram is doing incredibly well with the types of people that marketers are trying to reach. While it's true that Snapchat's users are engaged, they aren't necessarily loyal. In a study conducted by The Huffington Post, 52% of respondents said that most of their friends were on Snapchat - which is also the primary reason why they preferred Snapchat over Instagram.

Most interestingly, 43% of people said that they would be willing to delete Snapchat forever if the "Instagram Stories" feature added filter support - something it does not currently have.

In the end, it's clear that the war between Instagram and Snapchat is definitely not over... but the victor may have already been decided. Trends indicate that Snapchat has likely already peaked unless significant changes are made, whereas Instagram is still growing at a great clip. If content publishers go where the users are and the users are heading to Instagram in greater numbers every month, it's clear that Snapchat doesn't have nearly as much clout as it used to.