Instagram vs Snapchat: The Social Showdown

Snapchat and Instagram are the most popular platforms for sharing and creativity. Instagram has had a colossal impact on the social media scene since its launch four years ago. Snapchat, although not yet quite attaining the reach of Instagram, is younger but growing far faster than any other social media platform. Both are used to share photos and videos with friends, be creative and have fun – but what are the real differences? We gathered research from over 400 Instagrammers and Snapchatters to reveal the different ways they’re using each platform and upcoming trends we can expect to see.

Instagram vs Snapchat


A significant function on both Instagram and Snapchat are Stories. Both function very similarly: a user can choose certain shared pictures or videos to appear in their Story, which are easily viewable by their followers for the next 24 hours. However, users complain that using both extensively is “a bit much” and “can be overwhelming”. There is a belief that eventually one or the other will ‘fizzle out’. On the other hand, if Snapchat and Instagram fill niche enough roles that are distinct from one another, can they co-exist peacefully?

Reasons for using Insta


Reasons to use Snapchat

Instagram is seen by its users as the primary place for curated content. Users come to the platform to see photos and videos with a bit more effort put in. Users expect to see more beautiful, constructed content. As one Instagrammer puts it, “Instagram is more meaningful and inspiring as opposed to Snapchat”. This need for curation is due to content being visible to all followers, a user cannot cherry-pick what content gets seen by whom.

Photo source: @thetravellercouple

Snapchat, comparatively, is seen as fun, spontaneous and casual. Due to its ephemeral nature, there is no pressure to make carefully constructed content. According to one user, Snapchat “is super user friendly and familiar. The opportunities are endless with fun and vibrant filters and editing tools. There’s less pressure with Snapchat and I’m much more confident and spontaneous with Snapchat.” This statement is backed up by the 50-60% of users who say they specifically like the platform because it’s fun. The other significant reasons being that they can control who their snaps go to, therefore users don’t feel the need to create content for their entire audience.

fun Snapchat filters

Overall, each platform has carved out its place. Instagram is curated and carries with it a certain air of formality – Snapchat is almost purely for fleeting entertainment, but carries a sense of intimacy. This distinction translates to a difference in demographic: Instagram Stories are preferred among 25-39 year olds, whereas Snapchat stories are preferred among the 18-29.

For brands deciding between the platforms, consider both the target demographic and the nature of the content to be posted. Users like nothing less than when a brand’s content doesn’t feel authentic, and hitting the right tone for the platform is the first step in that process. Snapchat is for fun and spontaneity, Instagram leans toward inspiration and creativity.