Visual content is an integral part of social media marketing. This is especially true for social networks which rely heavily on sharing of images, such as Snapchat and Instagram. 

If you have decided to move beyond Facebook and establish a presence on other networks, you’re probably wondering whether you should start with Snapchat or Instagram. Both of these essentially have the same basic purpose.

So whether you’re trying to figure out which one will be better for marketing your business further, or how to go about marketing on each of them, the insights I am going to share in this post will be of tremendous value. 

Not only I am going to help you decide which one to pick, but also how to approach each from a marketing perspective, with real world examples of well-known brands.

Understanding Similarities & Differences

The commonalities between Snapchat and Instagram are more than just the fact that both are photo-sharing, social platforms. There are many others:

# Both have younger age groups as their main audience

# Both are primarily used on mobile devices

# Majority of the users use the respective apps every day

Before you proceed with marketing, it’s also important some important metrics associated with Snapchat and Instagram.

While Snapchat was launched in 2011, it’s still a relatively new platform. It’s only been a while since businesses have started taking it seriously for marketing. Only 2% of marketers are currently reported to be using Snapchat. 

There are about 100 million users active every day, with 400 million snaps shared every 24 hours. Snapchat is mainly popular among college-goers. Out of Snapchat users in the US, about 40% belong to the 18-24 age group. 

The unique thing about Snapchat is that engagements are private in nature. The images shared on Snapchat are only temporary, and need not be high-quality. 

In contrast, Instagram launched only a year before Snapchat. However, it quickly gained momentum, especially after the acquisition by Facebook. 

Instagram boasts of about 400 million users per month, with 80 million images shared every day. Similar to Snapchat, it appeals to a younger demographic. 

53% of users on Instagram are 18-29 years old. As opposed to Snapchat, engagement on Instagram is very public, with users being able to like, comment on or share posts. 

Instagram also has robust advertising which can be launched and controlled right from Facebook advertising panel. Other than that, it also makes use of hashtags, has great click through rates and a broad international audience. And it also enables you to cross post on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

Marketing On Snapchat

With Snapchat, you can send images or videos (known as snaps) to either a particular person, or to your entire list of contacts (through a feature called Stories). 

Not only you can capture snaps, but you can also do some basic edits and add text. But overall, you are not supposed to put a lot of effort into it because it’s not going to exist for a long time. 

When you take a snap and send it to someone on Snapchat, it’s gone quickly after it has been viewed. If it’s an image, it lasts for just 10 seconds. If it’s a video, it stays only for its duration.

As discussed earlier, only 1-2% of businesses are currently using Snapchat for marketing. This means that you can have a competitive advantage by being an early adopter, especially if your business targets college students. 

Unlike other networks which are already swamped by competition, Snapchat can prove to be a cheaper and effective marketing ally. The opportunity for new businesses is wide open.

Remember these tips as you begin with marketing on Snapchat:

# It’s all about timing. Your snaps won’t stay for long. So if you want to maximize the reach and success of your snaps and stories, send them at times when your audience is most likely to view them.

# The businesses that succeed in Snapchat marketing keep a sense of urgency in their snaps. Users who are viewing your snap even see a timer at the top signaling how much time they have left to consume it. This makes them more likely to take instant action. 

# Using this urgency to your advantage, (for example, by offering limited-time deals and coupons) will motivate your audience and keep them hooked to your snaps and stories.   

# The pictures and clips aren’t supposed to be all slick and professional. They are supposed to be organic and authentic, “snapped” from a phone’s camera.

# But that’s not to say your images can be dull. The snaps that get the most attention are interesting, original and creative, even when they are not high-quality.

# Make use of influencer partnerships. Find influencers with audience big and relevant enough to your brand and find a way to get them involved in your Snapchat marketing. This can lead to great results for your business.

Snapchat Marketing Examples

Taco Bell is one of the brands which have effectively taken advantage of the urgency factor in Snapchat. They know that their stories and snaps are temporary and the audience don’t need to stay.

Taco Bell primarily shares stories at night, which is clever considering how many college students feel hungry and crave something to eat late at night.

Very few students would be found sleeping at normal hours in a university environment. And late night is usually the time when no other joints are open. Being near or inside most college campuses, these late night stories give Taco Bell a distinct advantage.

Grubhub is another brand that takes advantage of the same urgency by sharing deals and coupon codes. Being temporary updates, these posts require immediate action from the viewers.

So whenever Grubhub shares stories, their target audience makes sure to not miss them.

Marketing On Instagram

Instagram allows you to share images and videos to your list of friends or anyone who’s allowed to view your profile.

People who follow your profile can have your content show up in their feed, and they can engage with your updates publicly by liking, commenting or sharing.

With the launch of Instagram ads, businesses now have the ability to reach their target audience on Instagram fast.

As you can guess, Instagram marketing is very different from Snapchat marketing. Keep these tips in mind as you establish your presence on Instagram: 

# Instagram content must be truly able to stand out in the middle of users’ feed. Unlike Snapchat, Instagram audience isn’t in a hurry to check out your content. They can let it slide if it doesn’t look interesting to them in the feed.

# Take your audience behind the scenes. Instagram is a great place to show the people behind your business, and daily happenings that convey your work culture.

# Leverage Instagram Ads. Instgram ads combine the robustness of the Facebook advertising platform with a whole new market you can reach. Make use of this opportunity before it gets crowded by competition from other brands.

# Just like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram has built in support for hashtags. By using hashtags relevant to your business, you can find and connect with an audience likely to be interested in your content. Use hashtags to track successes of your campaigns and create conversations revolving around your brand.

# Help your audience look good. Keep a check on the kind of content your target audience are creating and sharing. And occasionally, share a few updates which stand out on your own feed. Your fans will never forget this kind gesture and return it manifold.

# Make use of video. Video is king of engagement. By creating and sharing video content, you’ll get a huge amount of shares and views than otherwise. It’s not necessary that all your posts should be videos, but use them often enough to make a difference.

Instagram Marketing Examples 

Starbucks is a great example of a business using Instagram right. Starbucks is known for sharing beautiful images which promote their products in a subtle way, along with relevant hashtags. The images feel natural and light, instead of disruptive.

They also ensure that they are nurturing relationships with their followers from time to time by sharing user generated content accompanying the Starbucks hashtag.

Another great example of Instagram marketing is Lush Cosmetics. To convey how much they stand behind their products and their team, they post images of their team members making the products by hand.

There is nothing that connects with fans better than this level of authenticity. Other than that, they post engaging videos from time to time and also use custom hashtags improve engagement.


While both Instagram and Snapchat are similar in the aspect that they allow you to share images and videos, it’s obvious that their approaches are very different. And so should be the marketing efforts respective to each. 

Snapchat is quick and casual. As a result, the quality of images doesn’t matter as much as it does on Instagram. Instagram is more about creating great content and sharing it with all your followers at once.  

Each platform comes with its own unique characteristics, challenges and gains. And both can give you solid results, especially when you’re appealing to young college students. 

If you want to focus on either of them, I’d suggest experimenting with both and see which resonates best with your budget, resources and goals. Try creating different type of posts and track the outcomes for your business.