Snapchat has undoubtedly revolutionized camera-based social apps with its episodic nature. When it was first introduced, the concept of a camera that kept photos for only twenty-four hours was relatively new. Today, this idea is more widely known as “ephemeral messaging,” and the digital world has embraced it unreservedly.
For a few years, Snapchat was the darling of social media, especially since it targeted the younger demographic. Facebook, the biggest of all the social giants, was threatened by the attention that this new competitor was getting, so in 2013, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered to buy the company for $3 billion. Prior to that, in 2012, Facebook had successfully bought Instagram for $1 billion.
Experts agreed that Zuckerberg’s offer was a win-win for both sides. That’s why many were surprised when Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel declined the offer. Spiegel realized his brainchild’s potential, so he set off to capitalize on what Zuckerberg obviously saw as a threat. Almost immediately after the offer’s rejection, however, Facebook released an app called Facebook Poke, which was meant to crush Snapchat. The app failed to gain traction but this did not deter Zuckerberg and his team. The Facebook CEO made it clear when he released Poke that he was determined to get what he wanted however he could.
In mid-2016, Instagram, the new Facebook-owned app, released Stories, a feature that was basically a rip-off of Snapchat. Unlike Poke, Instagram Stories was successful. In fact, some users are now saying that Instagram has made Snapchat better than Snapchat ever could. Indeed, Snapchat is no longer the only one of its kind. Although it’s still steadily growing, it has found its match on Instagram Stories. Now, the marketing landscape is one app too many, and a lot of marketers are wondering which of these two platforms is worth investing on for the long run.
An Overview of Where the Two Platforms DifferSnapchat and Instagram Stories share many things in common, but they also have a lot of differences that are worth noting. Here are some of them:
Viewing experiences. While Snapchat features a single track of content called a “story,” Instagram offers two tracks, namely the “feed” (permanent pictures) and the “stories” (pictures with a twenty-four-hour shelf-life).
Monetization opportunities. Instagram Stories doesn’t offer ad products for publishers to sell. That’s why publishers can only rely on sponsored content and not revenue. On the other hand, Snapchat offers monetization to publishers through interstitial video ads that they themselves can sell.
Reach and retention rates. A Business Insider article claims that Instagram Stories has a higher reach while Snapchat has better retention rates.
What Snapchat Has That Instagram Stories Doesn’t
Snapchat is known to promote timely engagement. Since each snap can only be viewed for twenty-four hours, viewers feel a heightened sense of urgency that compels them to consume everything faster.
A more polished experience. The content on Snapchat’s Discover feature looks more professional, “like a mini-magazine,” as Zoe Ruderman from Time Inc. said. It combines the best of social networks, television programs, and magazines.
Higher engagement. Snapchat is unlike any other social media platform. It feels more intimate and personable because it focuses on the user. Somehow, Snapchat forges a stronger connection between brands and followers.
Access through Memories. Snapchat is designed for easy access. You can snap a photo or video on your camera roll by using the Memories feature.
More filters. Snapchat includes face-mapping, face-swapping, and motion filters. It allows you to apply different filters based on your facial expression and head movement. It also enables you to turn your videos into slow motion or reverse motion. You can also create a filter based on a particular geographic area, thanks to this app’s unique geo-filter. With this, you can encourage people to attend a local event if they’re within the vicinity.
What Instagram Stories Has That Snapchat Doesn’t
Instagram has always had a reputation for hosting almost-perfect photos that are far from mirroring the banality of real life. However, with Instagram Stories, the social media app is now viewed on a different light.
A more authentic experience. Instagram Stories looks more unscripted now because it provides behind-the-scenes look at a brand. The Stories feature provides a contrast to the “picture-perfect” reputation that Instagram had before.
More users. Even before Stories, Instagram already had a huge following. Now with over 600 million users, this platform undoubtedly has a stronger hold over Snapchat. It also helps that Instagram is connected to Facebook because this means that a quick search is all it takes to connect with other users.
Easier discoverability. On Snapchat, adding a friend seems like a big deal because you’re required to scan codes and everything. On Instagram, however, you can just follow someone the way you do on Twitter. You can even view someone’s Stories without having to follow him/her.
Tagging and linking. Instagram Stories allows you to use hashtags to caption and label your posts. You can also use hashtag searches to target specific customers and join conversations. Apart from this, you can tag other users in a post and link to external websites to maximize content and widen your reach.
Now, you can decide which of the two is better positioned to lead you to your goals. If truth be told, however, Snapchat’s future seems to be more uncertain. Sure, it will always be remembered as the app that started it all, but that’s beside the point now. The question everyone’s asking is whether Snapchat can stand its ground and defend its post.
The Verdict: Who Wins the Marketing Game?
Even from the start, Instagram has shown all signs of overtaking Snapchat, and just recently, it’s been confirmed that Instagram Stories is now officially more popular than Snapchat. Still, this shouldn’t stop you from using the platform of your choice. Assess both and gauge which of them can help you move forward in your social media campaign.