Revisiting Instagram and Snapchat

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Revisiting Instagram and Snapchat

The battle for your attention – and your ad dollars – is on, with Instagram and Snapchat going head to head to be the winning social network. You may not have the capacity to pay attention to both social networks – but if you had to choose one, which would it be?

Let’s do an updated comparison of Instagram versus Snapchat to understand where you should be spending your time, creative efforts, outreach, and ad dollars.

Who is Bigger?

In terms of sheer numbers, Instagram is up to 800 million active users while Snapchat lags behind with 166 million in the middle of 2017, and their growth is slowing. Still, Snapchat signs up more new users than Instagram while Instagram enjoys the integration with behemoth Facebook.

Who Uses Them?

The demographics for Snapchat skews young with 60% under 25 years of age using the app and 38% 25 to 54 but fewer users are 40 plus on this entertaining, multimedia text messaging app.

On Instagram, you’ll find more females and 55% of its users are between 18 and 29, 39% are 30 to 64 so Instagram skews a little older overall than Snapchat.

An interesting thing to note is that Snapchat users are very loyal to Snapchat. An Instagram user may also use Snapchat, but someone who started with Snapchat may stay with Snapchat.

How Much Do Their Ads Cost?

Advertising options and prices are where Instagram and Snapchat differ. Snapchat’s advertising platform is still limited compared to Instagram’s wide array of advertising options through Facebook’s Ad Manager.

The main affordable advertising option for Snapchat is to create geographically located filters that show up when someone is in a particular physical area. These geofilters can contain your company logo and usually are designed to take up the lower eighth of smartphone screen.

Geofilter pricing is based on the square footage of the location where the filter will show up as well as the duration of the filter. A custom geofilter can cost anywhere from $15 to $15,000 and up.

If you’re exhibiting at an event, you could mark off a “geofence” or specific coordinates around the event location and purchase a geofilter for the duration of the event so attendees using Snapchat will see your filter option. If you have a physical location like a retail store, office, restaurant or coffee shop, you can create a geofilters for specific holidays or during special promotions.

Instagram’s ad formats include:

  • Photo Ads –
  • Video Ads –
  • Carousel Ads – Ads with multiple images.
  • Stories Ads – Ads within the multimedia Stories feature which is similar to Snapchat Stories.

Instagram allows targeting beyond geographic location including:

  • Demographics – age, gender and language
  • Interests – based on what apps people use, the ads they click on including on Facebook, and the accounts they follow
  • Behaviors – what they do on and off Instagram and Facebook
  • Custom Audiences – advertise to your current customers based on email addresses and phone numbers
  • Lookalike Audiences – identify prospective customers similar to your existing ones
  • Automated Targeting – created automatically using Facebook data

Facebook leverages its vast data to provide a robust ad targeting tool for Instagram.

Who Wins?

If you’re looking to reach a younger audience or want to tie in advertising to a specific location during a specific time, Snapchat geofilters are the way to go.

But if you are looking for a slightly older audience or niche audiences and have a longer-term strategy for your outreach, Instagram has the muscle of Facebook behind it and many more options to reach your target market.