Instagram vs. Snapchat: By the Numbers

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Alyssa Scavetta
09.28.16

It seems like we can’t get through the week without hearing major news come from either of these two social media giants. And it’s for good reason: with 300 million active daily users on Instagram, and Snapchat users clocking an average of 9,000 Snaps per second, it’s no wonder these two have been pitted against each other in the market.

I have to admit a small amount of bias right off-the-bat. Once a major Instagram advocate, I’ve become something of a Snapchat fiend. I love it -- the immediacy, the newsworthiness; it has all the aspects of social journalism that Instagram is currently lacking. And as Instagram continues to make updates to show you the most relevant rather than the most instant, it feels more and more as if it’s distancing itself from the “what’s happening now” strategy that first helped Instagram users incorporate the term “FOMO” in the first place.

But regardless of personal preference, Instagram touts a major user base, with 500 million people surfing the app overall, and 300 million active daily users -- numbers that have been climbing ever since its start in 2010.

Snapchat has made similar milestone’s this year, such as racing by Twitter’s number of active daily users and releasing a major new product, which we’ll get to later. So let’s see how the two stack up, by the numbers.

Instagram’s Sweeping Improvements

Even though many considered Instagram Stories an update that was better late than never, users still aren’t engaging at the volume they are with Snapchat stories.

According to Business Insider, “[Snapchat] users still spend more minutes each day on the app than people spend on Instagram and that trend doesn't appear to have been directly impacted after the Stories launch. Sensor Tower uses anonymized mobile data from its mobile panel, which represents "millions of users" in more than 30 countries.”

Similarly, the Instagram algorithm update that hit earlier this year (making things more relevant and less instant) caused a lot of Internet chatter, and for good reason. Something that Instagram has over the competition is likability, and we mean this literally. You can like an Instagram post -- you can’t like a Snapchat post. So Instagram has the sociable aspect of being able to tag your friends and see what they like. Snapchat doesn't.

It’s also engaging on a more evergreen level. And just recently, they’ve incorporated an update with a streamlined user interface for better user experiences.

According to TechCruch, the reason why it made the update in the first place was that, “on average, people miss 70 percent of their feeds. And as Instagram has continued to grow and expand – the company now reports over 400 million monthly users – the number of photos and videos on its service have increased as well.” And that strategy seems to have paid off.

Snapchat’s Data Landscape

Snapchat has a completely different story to tell, so excuse the metaphor, but it’s a lot like comparing apples and oranges.

Snapchat has rocketed to marketing super-platform in a very, very short amount of time, and without the help of Facebook backing them (I’m looking at you, Instagram).

According to AdWeek, “Snapchat gets 4 billion video views a day, according to an International Business Times report. That's the same number as Facebook.”

So what’s so likable about Snapchat, anyway? It’s interactive without relying on likes. By this we mean, users get to interact with their favorite thing on a daily basis: their very own faces. With geo-filters that can make things local, branded, or just fun to send to your friends, Snapchat has been able to use a strategy so personal to the audience member that it’s hard not to get involved.

Not only is it super interactive, but according to eConsultancy, “8,796 photos are shared on Snapchat every second,” and, “65% of those users share content every day”. That’s user engagement on a level far past, well, Twitter.

It’s grown so much that just this last weekend, the company announced a major name change to “Snap, Inc.” and a new product to launch along with it: Spectacles.

Whether the move to wearable tech is a good one is something that remains to be seen, as Google knows all-too-well. But regardless, while Instagram still dominates the market share, Snapchat has cornered a niche market with a younger, more instantaneous generation, and shows no signs of letting go.


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