More than half of the world’s population now uses social media. These are content consumers who may just be part of the target audience for your brand. But how can you harness social media for optimal user traction?

When it comes to getting your brand out into the world, choosing between the array of social media platforms may be intimidating. That’s why we’re breaking down 2 of the top contenders: Snapchat vs. Instagram. This could be quite the showdown, so let’s take a good hard look at both platforms, what they offer your brand — and what they don’t!

Snapchat and Instagram 101: Everything You Should Know

Both Snapchat and Instagram are social platforms that offer users photo-messaging and photo-sharing capabilities, respectively. They’ve both been around since the early 2010s and have since been adopted globally.

Snapchat is primarily a direct messaging platform where images and videos are available to recipients for a short period of time. Snapchat users can post these short-term videos for their friends and followers to view before they expire and become inaccessible. While the app’s purpose may be to share fun photos, there are plenty of other features of the app for users to play with — we’ll get into those in just a moment!

Instagram — which is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook) — is a photo and video sharing network where content is open to all followers rather than sent through direct messages. Within the app, there are opportunities to tune into live videos, scroll through image posts and view stories that expire after 24 hours have passed. Stories, images and posts can also be sent via Instagram’s direct messaging feature to friends and other Instagrammers.

Let’s take this further by breaking down the features of both apps before we get into making them work for your brand.

Features When ‘Snapping’

Snapchat’s focus may be in person-to-person content sharing, but there are additional elements that its users enjoy.

A Snapchat story can be posted to any user’s profile for all of their followers to view. The “Discovery” page is where short-term content from other accounts and brands is displayed for perusal — including everything from news sources to food videos. If you’re a fan of Buzzfeed Tasty content but have blown through their episodes, you may find other food-related videos living on the Discovery page alongside other brands.

Not only can a Snapchat user send friends fun pics with filters (ever want to know what you would look like with a rainbow coming out of your mouth?) and direct messages, but they can also play Snapchat games with friends with augmented reality or even their own face. This app offers a huge array of features, from sending vanishing pictures to viewing your friends’ locations around the world and tuning into Snaps published in certain areas.

Instagram Features

Not to be outdone, Instagram comes equipped with a host of user-friendly tools. Instagram users can share their photos and videos on their main feed — complete with filters, geo-tagged content and hashtags. On the user feeds, an Instagram Story is available to view in a 24-hour window. While Instagram and Snapchat have similar features, their editorial abilities set the ‘gram’ apart. Content comes accompanied by a caption — a whopping 2,200 characters maximum — and tagging features for similar content discoverability.

Instagram Live allows users to watch their favorite celebrities, brands and even friends as they capture real-time footage. This isn’t to be confused with Instagram TV, a feature where personal and business accounts upload longer videos — even up to an hour — that are then made available to users based on their activity and interests. Instagram Reels are quick videos, often set to music, where short and engaging videos can be shared without a 24-hour expiration stamp.

User Profiles

Instagram’s 2 billion monthly users do surpass Snapchat’s 500 million monthly users, a clear statement about the former’s popularity.

But let’s dig deeper into these numbers — there’s a lot more to them.

Audience age is an important consideration when it comes to these apps. Users aged 18-34 make up the majority of Instagram’s population, far outranking younger and older demographics. Over 70% of Instagram users fall into that age-range worldwide. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a little more evenly distributed with an audience that skews younger. Users aged 13-34 make up 82% of Snapchat’s demographic. On both apps, young adults reign supreme — great news if that’s your ideal demographic.

Remember, there’s a likelihood that these numbers have some overlap, as social media users tend to be on multiple apps. It then becomes a question of making this information and the various features work best for your brand.

Marketing on Instagram: Benefits and Drawbacks

We can’t tell you directly if taking your brand to Instagram is the right choice, but we can provide you with some of the key benefits and drawbacks other businesses have faced on Instagram’s platform.

Benefits of Marketing on Instagram

There are a few clear benefits of creating Instagram content. The app offers:

  • A larger population: Instagram does have a clear majority when it comes to getting brand messaging out there. The more users you can reach, the more likely it is that you’ll see your content gain traction and benefit from a wider viewing audience.
  • A visual marketing paradise: If your brand excels in visuals, marketing on Instagram may be a more natural fit for you. This social media platform is ideal for attractive photos and eye-catching videos while being unobtrusive among other content.
  • A variety of content strategies: Whether you’re interested in getting your content out in digestible bites or producing long-term content that will live on your grid forever, Instagram has options for you. From Instagram Reels to Instagram Live, you can reach your target audience in numerous ways.
  • An editorial addition: Telling your brand’s story in 2,200 characters or less gives your product or service a lot of space to evolve. Captions can help you connect with your audience and drive organic traction through hashtags.
  • Endless possibilities: The only limits are your own imagination on Instagram. From educational information to collaborations, case studies and even outsourced user and influencer content, your options are wide open.

Drawbacks of Marketing on Instagram

While you may feel that these numerous Instagram benefits are like opening your very own personalized brand toolbox, be a little cautious of these bright and shiny tools. It can be possible to overuse them and create negative associations of your brand. A few of these include:

  • Too much content may overwhelm users, especially if you’re constantly spamming content that’s not well thought out.
  • Piecemeal brand assets that don’t flow with your overall aesthetic and voice may fall flat when attempting to connect with customers.
  • A lack of cohesive brand assets will make a brand’s Instagram look unprofessional and unattractive.

Make sure your brand has a schedule and a system for posting, and that every new piece of content is bright, professional and aesthetically thematic. Girl, LASH’s Instagram success story is one that might resonate and give you some inspiration.

Marketing on Snapchat: Benefits and Drawbacks

Don’t discount Snapchat just because the main design is more personal with direct messaging — that may just be one of the biggest benefits it brings!

Benefits of Marketing on Snapchat

Here are a few of the top benefits Snapchat brings to the table:

  • Smaller population = more targeted content: Just because Snapchat isn’t as big as some other social media platforms doesn’t mean it’s not a powerhouse in its own right. In fact, a smaller population may be the ticket to making your content stick.
  • Geographic targets: With geotags and physical locations as primary features on Snapchat, brands can create region- and even city-specific content for a larger, more localized impact.
  • A smaller, close-knit vibe: Of the social media sites, Snapchat users don’t typically turn to the app for news. Instead, they go to have fun and connect with friends. Brands that want to join this community may find a home on Snapchat.
  • Filters for brand style: Filters — from the ones Snapchat users apply to their photos and videos to Community Tags — offer creative and fun ways for users to connect with brands. These features are also an opportunity to demonstrate your brand’s graphic design chops!

Drawbacks of Marketing on Snapchat

Be aware of what the short-term nature of Snapchat can mean for your brand — and how you’ll have to customize your brand’s output to combat the ephemeral content.

  • Short-lived content will require more creativity to keep your brand relevant and noticeable.
  • Producing more content more consistently helps combat the quick-view nature of this social media app.
  • A smaller user base may mean your brand’s target demographic isn’t represented, and you may struggle to reach the right consumers.

Make Content Matter on Your Preferred Social Media

Be sure to consider the full impact of your content on Snapchat and Instagram. To stay at the cutting edge, you’ll need content marketing information that answers your social media questions. Subscribe to our newsletter today to get all of these insights and more.

Lane Fisher lives, writes and teaches her enormous cat tricks in Boston. You're likely to find her working on a novel draft, using up all her watercolor paints or turning her apartment into an arboretum.