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Social Media Marketing:

Instagram vs. Snapchat


In the age of social media, hashtags and ‘regrams’ are spread across the Insta-sphere, linking consumers to brands, movements, organisations and individuals.

This brings the relationship between a brand and their consumer closer than ever before – allowing for instant feedback, easily followed trends and accessible insights.

With the roll out of Instagram’s highly controversial (yet now highly celebrated) Stories feature, it was always going to be interesting to see how Snapchat would fare in a world where ephemeral content is being embraced at lightning speed. Many digital marketers were quick to throw in their two cents on the debate, and thankfully most have concluded that both have their place in this world, and for good reason.

In light of this, the term “story” has reinvented itself thanks to social media, whereby today’s generations (namely that of X and Y) are revolutionising what it means to share one’s story, and in doing so, allowing brands to learn how they can tell theirs.

So, where does this leave you? Let’s take a look at how Snapchat and Instagram Stories differ from one another, and how you can ensure you are making the most of them in your Social Media strategy.

Share your stories

Both platforms allow for instant but temporary photo and video sharing that disappears after 24 hours – enter the term “ephemeral”. The difference between each platform is pretty similar, yet each do have their own quirks.

For Instagram, the Story feature is front and centre on the opening page of the App. Capturing attention straight away, it showcases others’ stories first based on an algorithm of the most commonly interacted accounts. Instagram is all about who you’re following, so users can scroll through the stories one by one allowing for a single touch and instant, high-quality connection to the content shared. This makes the platform ideal for instant on-the-go sharing, or more creatively-led content pieces that tell a single story at the swipe of a finger. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have a verified account, you can include direct linking within Stories to external sites also.

Meanwhile, Snapchat is all about the user. Opening to a front-camera screen, the user is prioritised over the stories page, which is two swipes away. Snapchat stories are listed chronologically beginning with the most recent, rather than based on an algorithm. They are then organised alphabetically in “All Stories” to view as many times as a user likes within a 24-hour window. Because of this nature, Snapchat is a more authentic, down-to-earth approach that can allow a brand to be incredibly transparent with the end user.

Make connections

A key difference in the platforms is how they connect. Instagram has the capability to link to new platforms, share hashtags, tag other users, include links, and connect directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr (playing true to the photo sharing site it is).

Whereas for Snapchat, it is its own destination. With its now integrated content portal – otherwise known as ‘Discover’, it is allowing users to access exclusively curated content daily, from some of the world’s biggest publishers – CNN, Buzzfeed, Mashable to name but a few. Snapchat is about creating an environment whereby the user can gain richer experiences without having to leave the app.

Access is key

Snapchat needs users to actively search and add the accounts of others directly. This can be done through searching usernames or via the ‘snap-to-add’ feature, which connects people through an in-App QR code. Through active promotion of each users unique Snapchat code, or simply the Snapchat username, more interaction can be promoted – but often with not as much ease as Instagram.

Meanwhile, Instagram accounts can be public. Meaning they’ll appear in the ‘explore’ tab and can be accessed through the searching of hashtags or usernames, or are discoverable based on its infamous algorithm. Usernames can also be shared via links on Facebook and other online platforms such as blogs and websites, subsequently allowing the content to reach a broader audience.

Filters & Geofilters

It’s not hard to see that Snapchat prides themselves on being at the forefront of cultural trends, if anything, they have created their very own – adorable dog filter, anyone? They’re playing on the “right here, right now” mentality through on-demand geofilters and location-based filters that can pop up at events or locations around the world at the swipe of a finger. They have even opened this up to communities and businesses, where, with a bit of marketing spend, you can customise your very own location-based filter that will instantly interact with audiences across different arenas.

While Instagram Stories also provides filters (as it does within its usual posting section) and editing functionality, the use of these are likely to be embraced by the millennial demographic, with less than 17 per cent of Snapchat users not being within that age bracket. Snapchat is playing to its strengths here by constantly refreshing its filter functionality to be exciting, fun and engaging, whereby Instagram’s more intuitive and relaxed capabilities are seeing growth within older demographics.
So, the next steps are to weigh up the benefits of each platform, and whether you can make them work in your social media strategy. Each platform has the power to influence a market – it all depends on how you choose to use it.
  • ‘Story’ function
  • Stories on opening page of App
  • Stories appear based on commonly interacted with, or interest-based algorithm
  • Connects to Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr
  • Links to webpages (only on verified accounts)
  • Hash tags
  • ‘Explore’ capability
  • Sponsored content
  • Public access
  • Creative functions
  • Filters
  • Access via phones, tablets and computers
  • Broader user demographic
  • ‘Story’ function
  • Stories not on opening page of App
  • Stories appear chronologically
  • Links to media sources (e.g. Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail)
  • Allows for Paid-For-Media
  • In-app QR code
  • Pop-culture influence
  • Fun and engaging filters
  • Sponsored content
  • Geo-filters for events, locations and holidays
  • Phone and tablet access only
  • Majority millennial users


We can help.

Contact our team or call Sarah Broad on 07 3854 1544 for a confidential discussion.