Snapchat or Instagram? Deciding Which Platform Is Ideal for Your Visual Content


social media how to

Is visual content part of your social media marketing?

Are you trying to decide whether to use Instagram or Snapchat?

Snapchat and Instagram share the same basic purpose. While many businesses want to know which is better for marketing, the truth is both have value.

In this article you’ll find insights to help you decide whether your visual content campaigns should be on Snapchat or Instagram.

Snapchat and Instagram Stats

Instagram and Snapchat have more similarities than just being photo sharing platforms. They also have some commonality in how they both appeal to younger age groups, are mobile-driven and have large portions of their audience use the apps daily.

decide whether snapchat or instgram is ideal for your visual content

Discover how to decide whether Snapchat or Instagram is ideal for your visual content.

When determining which platform to use for your next campaign (or even in general), learn the important metrics for each to make an informed decision.

Snapchat Metrics

Snapchat launched in 2011, though it’s only recently that businesses and brands started to use it as a marketing tool.

Snapchat has 100 million daily active users, and there are 400 million snaps per day. More than 60% of Snapchat users in the United States are 13 to 34 years old, and 37% are between 18 and 24 years old. The platform is particularly popular among college students; 77% of them use it daily.

Engagement on Snapchat, if any, is private. Snapchat’s images (which do not have to be high-quality) are only temporary, and only 2% of marketers are currently using Snapchat.

social media examiner marketing industry report platform use detail

The Social Media Marketing Industry Report revealed that only 2% of marketers are using Snapchat while 36% are using Instagram.

Instagram Metrics

Instagram was launched in 2010, and quickly picked up steam, especially since Facebook purchased Instagram as their new sister company.

Instagram has more than 400 million monthly users, and there are more than 80 million photos posted daily. The platform also skews young: 53% of Instagram users are 18 to 29 years old; 25% are 30 to 49 years old, and 11% are 50 to 64 years old.

Engagement on Instagram is public, and comes in the form of hearts, comments and shares. Instagram now offers Ads, partnered with Facebook Ads.

Instagram heavily utilizes hashtags, has a wide international reach and incredible click-through rates. Instagram allows cross-posting to Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

#1: Snapchat Marketing

Snapchat allows users to either send snaps (photos and videos) to specific individuals or to share them with all of contacts throughstories.” These images and videos aren’t professional; they’re “snapped” with a phone’s camera. You can edit snaps with the platform’s basic features, which include the ability to add text.

snapchat snap

Snapchat holds a lot of potential for marketers who have good timing.

When you share a snap individually, it disappears quickly; an image lasts 10 seconds and a video only for its duration.

Since only 1% of businesses currently use Snapchat as a marketing tool, there’s a lot of room for businesses to grab hold of their audience without worrying about the looming competition. If you aim to target college students, Snapchat can be incredibly valuable.

With Snapchat, it’s all about the timing. Businesses that have done well on Snapchat understand how to harness good timing and urgency in promotions.

Businesses Using Snapchat

Taco Bell, GrubHub and 16 Handles are examples of businesses and brands that have done well on Snapchat.

Taco Bell, which knows their target audience well, followed users to Snapchat. They successfully take advantage of the timely feel of Snapchat: snaps and stories are temporary and the audience doesn’t linger.

Taco Bell has been known to send out stories late at night, when nothing else is open and college students have the munchies. Considering there’s a Taco Bell on or close to most college campuses, and almost no one sleeps normal hours at major universities, this is near genius. It has brought them success.

tacobell snap placeit image

Taco Bell sends snaps late at night, when college students have the munchies. Image: Placeit.

GrubHub also takes advantage of the urgency of Snapchat. They’ll send out coupon codes, updates and deals, which are sometimes hinted about on Twitter, but require Snapchat to obtain. The codes are temporary, and require immediate action.

Customers are getting great deals, so they stay tuned and check the GrubHub stories whenever they see them.

grubhub snaps

GrubHub’s audience knows the company offers coupon codes on Snapchat, which is incentive for users to check when they see a new snap.

16 Handles, a frozen yogurt shop based in New York, ran a successful marketing campaign on Snapchat to promote user engagement and new followers. The company asked users to send a snap of the user eating a 16 Handles frozen yogurt, and he or she would get a coupon in return. Users were told not to open the snap until they got into the store, because the coupon would disappear after a short amount of time.

16handles snap campaign promo

Customers of 16 Handles were sent a coupon code in exchange for a snap of them tasting the product.

The 16 Handles promotion worked on so many levels. It boosted engagement and increased sales, since users were required to take pictures of themselves eating the yogurt and then encouraged to buy again with their Snap coupon.

Tips for Marketing on Snapchat

There’s not a lot of competition for brands and businesses on Snapchat, so the door to opportunity is wide open. Remember these few things:

  • Timing is everything. Your stories and snaps don’t stick around forever. Figure out the best time to send snaps and stories to maximize their reach and success.
  • Make use of urgency. Images and videos disappear quickly. Users even see that timer ticking away at the top, which makes them want to take immediate action. Use that to your advantage (offer your followers something motivating, like a coupon code or promotion), and you’ll do well with Snapchat.
  • Creativity goes a long way. Unique, exciting, original and creative snaps are going to get the most attention. The images don’t have to be insanely high-quality, but they do need to be interesting.
  • Influencers matter. Plenty of brands are partnering with influencers to connect with relevant users on Instagram. Find an influencer to appeal to and get involved in your Snapchat marketing, and you could see amazing results.

#2: Instagram Marketing

Instagram made such waves in the social media marketing world that Facebook acquired the app quickly.

instagram discover screen

Instagram holds a lot of potential for marketers who have great images.

Use the platform to share video and image sharing to either your list of friends or to anyone who looks at your profile. After people follow your business on Instagram, your content shows up in their feed. Users can engage publicly by commenting, liking or sharing your content.

Instagram recently gave businesses the ability to reach consumers with Instagram Ads, which comes with huge marketing potential.

Instagram, like Twitter, utilizes hashtags. This makes it easy to connect with relevant users interested in what you’re discussing and generate conversation with and about your brand by using a hashtag.

Businesses Using Instagram

Lush cosmetics, Ben and Jerry’s and Starbucks are three of many businesses doing Instagram marketing well. While few businesses are on Snapchat, many use Instagram.

Lush Cosmetics may be a slightly smaller brand, but they’ve done a great job with their Instagram marketing. They share behind-the-scenes images of their team making their products by hand. This is something all customers love to see.

Lush posts videos on their channel and uses custom branded hashtags, such as “#lushoween,” which has helped increase engagement.

lushcosmetics instagram

Lush Cosmetics shares behind-the-scenes photos with their Instagram audience.

Thanks to drool-worthy posts that show off their ice cream flavors, Ben and Jerry’s has built a huge list of Instagram followers quickly. They keep followers engaged by including relevant hashtags, regramming usercreated content and using Instagram ads.

After running just a few ads, Ben and Jerry’s saw their follower numbers increase massively (and quickly). Ads aren’t just for businesses and brands getting started, they can work for everyone.

benandjerrys instagram

Ben and Jerry’s posts great images with hashtags, and gets lots of engagement.

Starbucks is doing everything right on Instagram. They share gorgeous images (using hashtags, of course) that promote products without pressure. Starbucks remains timely, promoting their products seasonally. They have even done a great job nurturing relationships with followers by making an effort to share user content with the Starbucks hashtag attached.

starbuchs instagram

Starbucks shares great seasonal images that are not obtrusively promotional.

Starbucks builds rapport while distributing images that promote their product in a way that feels natural, instead of intrusive.

Tips for Instagram Marketing

Marketing on Instagram is very different than marketing on Snapchat. Your content must stand out in the middle of a feed, whereas on Snapchat, a user needs to click on it before it fills the screen.

  • Share behind-the-scenes pictures. Customers love it when you give a behind-the-scenes look at your business, and Instagram is a great place for it.
  • Use Instagram Ads. Ben and Jerry’s showed just how powerful ads on Instagram can be. They combine the power of Facebook with the reach of a whole new platform, and will become a major force in social media marketing.
  • Don’t forget the hashtag. Hashtags are just as important on Instagram as they are on Twitter. They can help you find a relevant audience and enable you to track how your campaigns are doing by how much your hashtag gets used. They even generate conversations about you and your brand.
  • Share user-created content. If you want to win your users’ affection, share the content your fans create about and for your brand. (Search for them through relevant hashtags). This will not only win the favor of those whose posts you share, more users may start creating content, too.
  • Share videos. Videos matter. They are garnering high engagement and view rates across all social media platforms. While not all of your posts should be videos, add some here and there (whether it’s an organic post or an ad) to your Instagram marketing. It can make a big difference for your brand.

Final Thoughts

While both Snapchat and Instagram are all about the images (and in some cases, videos), they go about photo sharing in two different ways. Snapchat is more casual and places less emphasis on image quality, while Instagram (which greatly resembles Facebook) emphasizes sharing great content to everyone at once.

It’s not a question of one or the other. Each platform has its own unique quirks, benefits and challenges, and both have their place in marketing.

Experiment on both Snapchat and Instagram. Create different types of content, and see which works best for your business.

What do you think? Have you used either Snapchat or Instagram to promote your business? Which platform do you prefer for marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Snapchat Taco Bell image created with Placeit.
decide whether snapchat or instagram is ideal for your visual content

Tips for deciding whether Snapchat or Instagram is ideal for your visual content.

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Social Media Examiner


Deciding When to Cooperate, When to Compete


Cooperation and competition
How do we navigate the line between cooperation and competition? Probably not very well, or not all the time.

“The tension between competition and cooperation defines many of our interactions at home and work, and to succeed across these realms requires knowing when and how to do both. In our most important relationships, from the negotiating table in the boardroom to the breakfast table with our kids, we routinely face challenges that appear to offer two opposing solutions. Yet the question – should we cooperate or should we compete – is often the wrong one. Our most important relationships are neither cooperative nor competitive. Instead, they are both.”

Write Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer in Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both. “We must nimbly shift between the two,” they say because :

“what comes next will not take the shape of cooperation or competition, but rather a shifting dynamic between the two. As we compete for scarce resources in our unstable world, it’s not enough to be prepared to cooperate or compete. We must be prepared to do both.”

We live in a “both/and world” and knowing how to navigate when and how to pursue our own interests, and when and how to help others achieve theirs will help us come out on top in the uncharted complexity of business territory as well as personal relationships.

[I’ll have more to say about the social science research in the book once I get through it.]

There is another reason why it’s a good idea to learn how to make comparisons work for us, to trust but verify, and overall to know when to make trade-offs — and that is to benefit in performance from the use of our energy.

And beyond considerations on our judicious use of energy is also the story we tell ourselves about what is going on — our worldview, our stories influence what we do. Which means we need to pay attention to becoming more aware of our behaviors.

Because we’re hard-wired to respond to “human experience, or a judgement to reality that can change from positive to negative or negative to positive,” we respond well to Story. Why we look for a good story in a presentation, for example. In The Story Grid, Shawn Coyne says this human experience that can change in valence is the Story value. He lists some of them:

Alive/Dead, Truth/Lie, Love/Hate, Justice/Injustice, Hope/Despair, Good/Evil, Right/Wrong, Happy/Sad, Naïve/Experienced, Young/Old, Smart/Dumb, Rich/Poor, Freedom/Slavery, Honor/Shame, Chosen/Ignored, etc.

Reality, like fiction, is not black and white. There are progressive degrees of positivity or negativity for each. For example, between love and hate is indifference; beyond hate is hate masquerading as love or self-hatred.

This is most useful when we think about conversation as a negotiation of meaning. As I said in that post (lightly edited below):

Many of the most productive conversations we have lead to an understanding of sorts. In some cases they allow us to connect with one another in a way that leads to solving a problem, advancing a project, and creating opportunity for a next step or action.

I liken this kind of conversation to a negotiation where both or multiple parties participate to varying degrees.

Because people are involved, outcomes tend to be fairly unpredictable, and that is a good thing.

If we could boil down the dynamics of relationships to a specific and neat formula, we would cut ourselves out of the myriad possibilities that exist for new creation. In fact, while ideas may sound similar at the moment of conception, the sweet spot is in the combinations and permutations we find for practical executions.

We are living our lives more publicly — as individuals and organizations — so learning how to approach conversation as a negotiation is a benefit. Our digital imprint (we should now assume including out deleted emails) and what others experience of us are available for review.

When we talk about listening, engaging, sharing, we employ the principles of good communication. Yet the action does not stop when the conversation is over. The emotion generated before, during and after an exchange creates the momentum for what’s next.

This is important because we buy, we join, and we connect on the basis of emotion. Then, as a way of justifying to ourselves and others our actions, we rationalize how we got there.


Some cultures have a developed sense of the need for saving face – in Italian we call it fare una brutta figura. The five main or core concerns all human beings have that we need to be aware of to become more effective in negotiations are:

  1. Appreciation
  2. Affiliation
  3. Autonomy
  4. Status
  5. Role

In the post I go into more detail. For a deeper dive into business negotiation techniques, I highly recommend Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton.

The book gets into very fine detail about the art and science of negotiation. For example, when they say “separate the people from the problem,” the authors mean that people problems often require more attention than substantive ones.

Humans are prone to defensive and reactive behavior. Thus their advice is to “build a working relationship independent of agreement or disagreement.” That means being able to deal with differences. We can use this advice in so many aspects of work and life, online and offline.


The smarter we become at learning to observe our behaviors and those of others to understand and appreciate what is going on, and at making deliberate decisions on how we are going to respond, the better our experiences with relationships in business and in life.


[images via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain / FAQ]

Conversation Agent – Valeria Maltoni