Both Instagram and Snapchat offer digital marketers the same proposition: a platform for photo and video sharing with a captive audience of content-hungry individuals that can be engaged, nurtured and converted. This is even more the case now that Instagram launched “Instagram Stories” (an unashamed Snapchat clone) eight months ago.

However, the devil is in the detail. And it's these details which should make Instagram a better choice for both B2B and B2C digital marketers:

1. Instagram makes it easier to find your target audience 

The strength of any social media community lies in the ability to find your target customer quickly and easily.

From the outset, Snapchat comes a cropper. There is no clear “Discovery” function on the app - an issue which, according to Wired, means it is missing out on millions. You have to type in exact usernames to find people as there is no ‘account suggestion’ functionality. Consequently, brands and power users are forced to increase their following by promoting their Snap profile on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and - yes - Instagram.

By contrast, Instagram is at pains to enable you to discover other users and feeds with similar interests. From the ‘Explore’ page that features curated photos based on similar feeds that you’re already following to a dedicated Search bar at the top that allows you to find users by geography, username, hashtag use, and more.

2. Instagram has a larger addressable audience

This leads neatly onto the second point: the size of the addressable audience that is on each platform.

It’s here that the disparity between the two platforms is most apparent. At the time of writing, there are over 700 million monthly active Instagram users, compared with ‘just’ 300 million for Snapchat. Instagram’s growth shows no signs of slowing down; with reports expecting that one-half of all social media users will use Instagram in 2017.

Snapchat evangelists make much about it being the platform du jour for those that want a captive audience of young people. Indeed, the company said in its S-1 last year that 85% of Snapchat’s 158 million daily users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Whilst this undoubtedly makes it the preserve of the young - it is nevertheless a somewhat limiting demographic, particularly for marketers that are targeting an older customer (of which there are much more).

3. Instagram lets you share links and tag people

The ability to link out from your social profile is integral to driving traffic to your key sites. Snapchat does provide link capabilities for ‘pay to play’ advertisers, but not for regular users - so if you’re marketing for a local business don’t expect to be using the platform to drive sales anytime soon. The February release of “Snapcodes” (a type of QR code that takes you to a website if you take a photo) is a long way away from the simple URL that Instagram lets you carry in your bio.

Likewise, the ability to ‘tag’ other users in your social network is a surefire way to get their attention, show up in their activity feed, and thereby increase exposure and engagement with a piece of content. You can tag up to 10 people in an Instagram story and up to 20 on a photo. And, Snapchat? 0.

4. Instagram Stories supports higher video quality

For a platform whose raison d’etre is visual posts, it’s notable that Snapchat that comes a clear second to Instagram Stories when it comes to quality of videos.

It’s not surprising - Snapchat requires you to record live video by holding the record button and then automatically publishing whatever you’ve captured once you release your finger. You’re a hostage to fortune with regards to how steady your hand is and how good the natural light is - there is no opportunity to sharpen the footage or to add filters to give it that lustre and aesthetic sheen we’ve come to associate with Instagram. Furthermore, on Instagram you can add high-quality videos that you have recorded beforehand on other devices - allowing you to upload even HD videos (if you know how to bypass Instagram’s re-encoding function which compresses uploaded videos).

5. Instagram provides better analytics

Finally, when it comes to measurement and tracking marketing metrics, Instagram really is the platform for grownup marketers and brands that want to calculate ROI.

Snapchat provides unique views, how many stories viewed, and number of screenshots, but serious digital marketers need much more. By contrast, Instagram provides just about everything - followers, website clicks, impressions, reach, engagement, demographics, etc.

As such, Instagram should be the go-to platform for digital marketers that wish to deliver superior visual marketing experiences to an audience that can be well-parsed and targeted, with measurable and trackable outcomes.


By Jonny Rose, founder of Gram To Grands

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