The Storied War of Instagram and Snapchat

It is well documented that Snapchat (NYSE: SNAP) and Instagram (NYSE: FB) have long been locked in a battle of superiority since Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat back in 2013. For the everyday social media user, this competition has pushed both companies to innovate and create entertainment and features to maintain the users’ attention. Snapchat, originally a photo share app, changed its game when it began offering its Stories feature, an option that lets its users create fun and personal narratives via video and photos. Until very recently, it was the only social media application that let its users creatively document their daily lives with relative ease. That was until Instagram came and crashed the party.

12 months ago, Instagram launched its own Stories feature. It was almost an exact cut-and-paste of the Snapchat feature. And much to the dismay of Snapchat, Instagram is actually outperforming Snapchat at its own game. While Snapchat has previously announced it has 150 million daily active users (DAUs) for its entire app, Facebook announced in April that the Instagram Stories feature has over 200 million DAUs. While Instagram seems to be doing its best version of Annie Get Your Gun, Snapchat has continued to innovate new features and still is very much alive.

Now for businesses trying to decide where to allocate their advertising dollars, it is imperative that they pay close attention to where the end-consumers’ attention lies. Too much time and money spent on the wrong platform wastes resources, which would be better allocated elsewhere. While Facebook is the clear front-runner in the social media advertising market, spreading the ad dollars to different platforms gets fresh eyes on your business. While Snapchat and Instagram have become very similar in their features, there are still some key differences in the two platforms that can help business decide where to market themselves.


Snapchat was built as a story-centered app built for its younger demographic of 18-24. With AI filters and its Bitmoji stickers, it allows businesses to market itself to a younger demographic. It’s built to show the personality of a business and the behind the scenes of its day to day. Though Snapchat came first, it feels like the younger, unpolished brother of Instagram. And yet, for its demographic, it serves as a great platform to market to due to the DAU’s time spent creating and engaging in the app. Especially since the average DAU’s time spent on Snapchat is double the time spent on Instagram on average, according to Forbes.


Instagram was initially designed as a photo-centered app. Although that seems to still be its initial priority, it has developed a larger reach than Snapchat with its Stories feature. It also targets a slightly older demographic of 18-29 but does well in the 30-49 range, with 33% of internet users in this age group using Instagram, according to Forbes. With all of the increased exposure, many social media influencers have also flocked to Instagram, making their presence more attractive to businesses for using Instagram for marketing purposes.


Both businesses still offer a viable option for ad dollars and as long as you adjust them according to your demographic, businesses will waste not. It is definitely a battle that ad executives should keep a close eye on in the upcoming months. As both companies continue to innovate, a clear winner will emerge and when that time comes, companies need to adjust to market effectively. A lot has happened in this war in the past year; it will be interesting to see where these platforms stand 12 months from now. Only time will tell.

If you need help in navigating your digital marketing strategy, contact us at HeartFire Media. We are experts in this field, ready to help you and your business goals. Schedule a meeting with us by emailing,

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