Snapchat vs. Instagram for Brands

Authenticity key to reaching valuable 18-to-34-year-old target audience

When it comes to Instagram vs. Snapchat, I prefer Instagram, especially since they launched their easy-to-use Stories and face filters.

But for businesses, what you use depends on how you want your brand to be perceived, where your audience is, and your budget. And though Instagram has recently surpassed Snapchat with daily active users and reaches 53% of 18-to-34-year-olds, Snapchat also reaches 41% of the valuable 18-to-34-year-old target audience.

The Snapchat app allows your business to be creative, and Snapchat works with brands to create filters and optimal geolocation to launch a new product – a key difference between them and Instagram.

“The way that we try to help people understand how we think about daily active user growth is really through the lens of creativity and creation,” says Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.

Nicholas Orsini, Interactive Producer at J. Walter Thompson in New York, says that both Instagram and Snapchat “offer tools to create something yourself and create something great,” but that Snapchat allows you to connect with customers on a more personal level than Instagram.

“Snapchat, by nature, is about your life, your friends, your interests. You’re never bombarded with content. You are asked to be the curator of what you see and make.”

Instagram seems to be playing catch-up with Snapchat on the type of filters they offer for Stories. Snapchat has more variety and funnier options, like showing your “speed” and temperature and lots of bitmoji and stickers. Also, Snapchat users can get news, a big sports game, or the latest from their favorite celebrity with the Discover option; if someone really loves your business stories, they can subscribe and see your stories every day on their stories page.

“Snapchat proved that content doesn’t always have to be evergreen to be engaging,” writes Teresa Litza on ClickZ.com. “In fact, if a brand manages to appeal to its target audience with this challenging type of content, then the chances of long-lasting engagement are increased. It’s estimated that Snapchat’s users spend at least 30 minutes a day in the app, while they visit it on an average of 18 times per day – offering a great opportunity for brands to explore how to benefit from it.”

“Both Snapchat and Instagram are important to a business’s social media presence –one platform isn’t ‘better’ than another.”

Another great opportunity on Snapchat is e-commerce. It’s an authentic and fun way to gain new customers that allows links to be added on Snapchat stories. But because it’s such a creative platform, brands should be wary of adding too many commercial messages that tend to alienate users, especially the 18-to-34-year-old audience.

Granted, this also applies to Instagram, which now allows you to shop brands while scrolling, with shoppable tags on photos hidden behind a “Tap to view products” button. When users select the product, they see an in-app details page with the product’s price, description, additional photos, and a “Shop Now” button to purchase it online. It’s a great feature for the channel and a smart use of hashtags that can help build awareness of your brand and gain followers.

“Both Snapchat and Instagram are important to a business’s social media presence –one platform isn’t ‘better’ than another,” says Baldwin Cunningham on Forbes.com. “They are different (like apples and oranges), and the key to developing a successful strategy is understanding who your customers are and what you are trying to say as a business.”

In the end, it really depends on which application your target market spends most of their time on – and sometimes it’s both – and how much effort you put into your social media marketing. With Instagram, you can have new and beautiful content every day; on Snapchat, you can post stories a few times a week, and creatively share what happens behind the scenes of your company. According to Sprout Social, “if your business’ customer base is made up mostly of younger millennials, then Snapchat may be the better platform for you. It’s a niche and offers a more authentic view inside a company.”

When Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, and was turned down, the competition between the two companies has been intense. So, it will be interesting to see the new features that result as they go head-to-head for the loyalty of valuable younger audiences.

Garrett Sloane of AdAge sees the Snapchat vs. Instagram battle as “a tie.”

“If you’re an official partner, Snapchat offers a new way of creating content and actually making money from it. If you’re not a partner, you’re kind of out of luck on Snapchat, and Instagram is the place to invest time and resources.”

Chris Sheppard

Global Content Manager at Mirum

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