Snapchat Vs Instagram

How do you decide what’s best for your business in the ever-changing landscape of social media? You know that you need to be on social media, but you’re not sure why, how or where just yet. One of the biggest questions that brands come to me with is, “should I have a Snapchat or Instagram channel?” The truth of the matter is that it depends on much more than what meets the eye. You have to factor in user demographics, behaviors and expectations as well what capabilities your company has to meet and succeed in those conditions. In this article I’ll address some of the history of the Instagram vs. Snapchat debates, myths, facts and make a recommendation for those of you seeking an informed opinion.


You have to know your playing field if you’re going to truly succeed. Thanks to DBE! for the below infographic:


You can see there are some differences and similarities here, but how does this translate for your business. Instagram lends itself to a more narcissistic crowd. You can tell by the brands and industries that have found success. 

Four of the Most Followed Brands Are Fashion Brands:

  • Nike (70M)

  • Victoria’s Secrets (52.5M)

  • Nike Football (26.6M)

  • H&M (19.2M)

You’ll notice that Nike has two brands in the top 10 and also posts a lot of crossover sports content, this falls in line with the industry success as well. FCBarcelona (47.5M), Real Madrid (46.3M), and the NBA (26.6M) are also all top 10 followed brands on Instagram. 

What have we learned here? People love seeing themselves reflected back to them. It’s the same lesson advertisers have learned ages ago, the learned habits of beautiful clothing, aesthetics and people capture people’s attention. 


That’s not to say you cannot find success, but you have to understand that Instagram’s success is based on visuals. Whether you can be unique like @pentelofamerica (insert screenshot), unique like @kidhazo or experiential like @eater. There is definitely space to play.

Conversely we can look at Snapchat and see the brands that have found the greatest success in that arena. Off the bat, you’ll notice it’s not easy to see how many followers a brand has on Snapchat. This is a function of how the app is built, discretion being a key piece of Snapchat’s history means that you don’t have access to as many outwardly facing numbers, so we’ll judge on creativity and reach of message instead. 


General Electric

Yes the same GE that makes parts for your washing machine, car and probably a dozen other household devices. They’ve quickly carved out a niche on Snapchat for informative information that leverages the ability to live-edit video. The developed a live #EmojiLab and brought in the best and brightest to help with testing. This results in amazing content that even Bill Nye the Science Guy approves of:




When you can leverage fame and creativity, you’ve got yourself a recipe for success. That’s how Gatorade uses its athletic partnerships and the sponsored lenses option on Snapchat to succeed. Below you have the greatest athlete ever being doused in Gatorade on a Snapchat lens. This is a popular tradition for winning, which took off with users showing themselves as winners over 100 Million times. They tweeted the GIF out which is an excellent strategy to combat the discrete nature of Snapchat. 


Warby Parker

Warby Parker has their own owned channel on Snapchat which they leverage for a number of activations. From being able to chat with the co-founder of Warby Parker, to trying on frames, to building employee advocacy; nothing is too big a task for this hip glasses maker to bring to Snapchat. They too leverage their content cross-platform, making sure to send their Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn audiences over to Snapchat to check out the latest activation.


Okay so creativity and flexibility are the crutches of Snapchat. It also seems that beyond just creative content you need creative promotional strategies. The timing of your snap activations are crucial, so a well-functioning multi-disciplined marketing effort is necessary. This is definitely something worth understanding if you’re tackling this initiative alone. Not saying that it can’t be done alone, most companies unfortunately do. But you will be indeed inundated with work if you choose to do so and want to be successful.

Okay, it is recommendation time. As much as I am a fan of Snapchat as a user and I invest a lot of time there, I recommend that if you can only choose one; to go with Instagram. Instagram has more users, a better advertising platform, cheaper advertising and a learned path of success. Being visual and relating heavily to your audience is no small task, but even if you fail you will learn more about who your fans think you are than you could from investing those same efforts in Snapchat. 


Larger companies that can afford the time and resources to do both, I recommend that you do so. Snapchat is a great area that continually innovates and reaches almost 80% of the millennial market. Even for companies that are just starting out and will go to Instagram, I recommend you keep an eye on Snapchat. Social media landscapes can change in a month, and if it does I’ll be sure to let you know. 

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