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The battle for the attention of social media audiences is intensifying. Though Instagram, the incumbent darling of the social media landscape, still maintains a sizable lead over its rivals in terms of active monthly users—with 4 million users, Instagram is third only to Facebook’s 1.65 billion users and YouTube’s 1 billion users—Snapchat is now challenging the photo-sharing app with staggering growth rates (Snapchat’s video traffic has increased 5x in the last year, according to Fast Company) and high levels of user engagement.
With an ever-growing number of features (both for users and advertisers) and deals to cover events like the upcoming Olympic Games freshly inked, Snapchat is making a bid to overtake Instagram as the dominant social media platform and, in time, possibly replace the app altogether.
Instagram may have been one of the first social media platforms to focus on content instead of social interactions between users (i.e. Facebook’s modus operandi, at least at the onset), but Snapchat has taken the concept of sharing “in the moment” user-generated content (UGC) to a whole new level (Sprout Social). Today, Snapchat is challenging Instagram’s dominance by:
According to Piper Jaffray’s most recent “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, Snapchat, not Instagram, is now the favorite social media platform among 13- to 19-year-olds. The study highlights the growing popularity of Snapchat among younger demographics as the newly-minted favorite was voted “most important social media network/platform” by nearly one-third of all participants (Business Insider).
While Instagram’s most recent innovation (a proposed algorithm change that would re-order photos by relevance instead of chronology) was met with fierce opposition from both Instagram users and top Instagram influencers, Snapchat’s frequent updates—which offer new filters and innovations like Stories for users and enhanced advertising options for brands—have been well-received and help keep Snapchat users constantly engaged.
Instagram’s edited photos and curated content may be ideal for brands that want to showcase their products in a favorable light, but Snapchat’s growth may suggest that today’s audiences are equally as interested in viewing candid, off-the-cuff content, too. Snapchat’s “vanishing content” model encourages everyday users and Snapchat stars (also called “Snapchatters“) to document experiences without the burden of permanence weighing on their publishing decisions, which translates to more authenticity and higher levels of user engagement.
Though Snapchat is fast-becoming the social media platform of choice, especially among teens and young millennial users, the differences between user experience for Snapchat and Instagram—the former, an authentic “in the moment” way to interact with both friends and celebrities; the latter, a highly-curated content-first approach—ensures that both apps will remain relevant and continue to grow and innovate in the years to come.
For brands, deciding which platform/network is right for their audience, products/services, budgetary restrictions, and goals can be complicated. To learn more about how companies can develop effective social media marketing strategies and collaborate with social media influencers to boost Snapchat marketing or Instagram marketing campaigns, see the following resources: