Everybody loves to watch an evenly fought battle.
When it comes to smartphones and technology, it’s Apple vs. Google; or Uber vs. Ola among the popular ride-hailing apps. In the end, competitors fighting it out for the top honours, benefit the tech industry as a whole. In the social media space, the rivalry between Facebook-owned Instagram and Snap’s Snapchat is being closely watched. Especially after Instagram launched its copycat version of Snapchat Stories called Instagram Stories.
Snapchat and Instagram’s appeal to influencers and advertisers are vastly unique. Tech experts believe that the ability of Snapchat to add quirky characteristics to photos and videos may appeal to a younger demographic, thereby broadening its reach over Instagram.
Digital marketers can look at both platforms to expand the reach and influence of their brands. Understanding the ins and outs of each app is essential to growing user engagement among the desired target audience. A one-size-fits-all strategy may not guarantee success with either of these two apps.
The Story Wars: A Legendary Tale
Snapchat once reigned supreme in the ephemeral video arena when it first broke cover, but Instagram has slowly clawed its way to the top. In August 2016, years after Snapchat first released Stories, Instagram released its own version of Stories. It allowed users to share multiple photos and videos in a slideshow format. Despite the feature being a late entrant in this social media space, user engagement quickly started to tip in Instagram’s favour.
On the other hand, a report by TechCrunch found that Snapchat Stories view counts dipped 15-40% after the launch of Instagram Stories. Moreover, Instagram view counts soared 80%, followed by a posting volume decline as well. Most influencers have seen engagement rates that are 3-5x higher on Instagram than on Snapchat.
Drawing on its newfound popularity, within six months, Instagram Stories clocked 150 million daily active users (DAUs). This is slightly lesser than the number of DAUs for Snapchat’s entire app. In early April 2017, Facebook announced that Instagram Stories had reached 200 million DAUs and now hovers around an astonishing 500 million.
For a marketer trying to figure out the social media strategy for their brand, and the budget allocation, this marked shift is significant. No one wants to allocate budget for a platform that some consider ‘dead’. Not to be written off, Snapchat has effectively been able to ward off the competition with its foray into AR (Augmented Reality) with Lenses as well as into consumer electronics with the release of its wearable gadget called Spectacles.
There have also been some questions on Facebook’s way to measure DAUs for Instagram Stories. It could make those numbers seem higher than they actually are. Consider these facts, an average Snapchat user spends around 30 mins per day on the app, of which 60% of the users create the content. In contrast, the average Instagram user spends 15 mins per day within the app, and the activity is mostly browsing. Snapchat scores some impressive engagement metrics!
A Case of Apples and Oranges
Having argued about the strengths and weaknesses of both apps, we can only infer that both Snapchat and Instagram are important to a brand’s social media presence. Both platforms are different and have their USPs, and the key to developing a successful strategy is understanding who your customers are and what you are trying to say to them, as a brand. Let’s try to break this down further.
Snapchat is a better choice if you are targeting a younger demographic. The app is popular with teens and the rate of penetration among 18-24-year-olds is twice the rate for 25-34-year-olds. More importantly, 60% of its users are under the age of 25. Its user base is also skewed towards the female population. Snapchat is also a valuable tool for brands with a strong personality. The format lends itself well to quirkiness, creativity, and spontaneity that marketers have come to love about it. It’s a great way to give users a glimpse behind the scenes, share the personalities of the people who work at your company, and generally put a human face onto the brand. It’s a medium to have fun with, take risks, and experiment.
Instagram, in contrast, reaches out to an older demographic – 59% of all online 18 to 29-year-olds in the US use Instagram, according to the Pew Research study. It also does well with the 30-49-year-olds: 33% of internet users in this age group use Instagram. It’s best suited to product-based businesses, with Instagram business profiles that can use the app to showcase inventory in a visually appealing way.
However, content tends to be more stylised than on Snapchat. Instagram has also come out with Snapchat-inspired filters, making it easier for content collaborators to get more creative.
The Final Take: Where the Lines Are Drawn
Beyond demographics and formats, there are other differentiators between Snapchat and Instagram as well; ones that business owners should be aware of.
Instagram definitely has the largest reach. Combined with Facebook’s social data and monumental reach, Instagram was able to drive major engagement on Stories right out of the gate. Most influencers, as well as average users, flocked to Instagram Stories. It was quick as their current networks were already present there. If your social media strategy involves influencers, that’s worth thinking about.
Secondly, Instagram Stories is fast gaining an edge over Snapchat with its features and user experience. Many features are simply better on Instagram, such as the UI of changing stickers or the ability to easily pause a video. Finally, the UI of Instagram Stories has shown the world what an engaging advertisement can be. By including the “pause” feature, advertisers can enhance the way consumers engage with their content.
That being said, Snapchat and Instagram both offer great marketing opportunities for business owners, but they have differences in functionalities and features. The types of engagement each platform can deliver are relevant for brands to make tough decisions about where to channel their money. For now, it seems that the balance has tipped in favour of Instagram.
Which among the two is your social media elixir? Let us know in the comments section below!