Instagram vs. Snapchat: Taking the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ of Live Content Publishing

Zach Gerber, Marketing Director

We’ve seen it all before. For decades, brands have been tweaking their products and services to either capture a new niche or steal from an existing one. And there are countless examples of how one brand has swooped in to dominate an existing, otherwise standalone market. Think Coca-Cola getting tweaked by Pepsi. Uber vs. Lyft. Or even the nifty credit card consolidation device, Coin, that became obsolete by the time Apple Pay came along (glad I was an early backer on Kickstarter). 

It’s just never been a fight focused around live-action ephemeral content publishing—until now.

What once were two rather distinct platforms playing fair on their own respective turfs, are now direct competitors, battling it out, head-to-head. As Snapchat continues to roll out fresh updates daily, creating more brand-centric opportunities for live engagements, the Facebook-owned Instagram has begun to follow suit. It has transpired into a back and forth functionality battle. But while the platforms continue to become more and more alike one another in terms of their functionality, the real battle has become capturing and sustaining market dominance with advertisers.

So, what happens when we put them head-to-head? 

Adoption & User base: Instagram is a platform that brands are finally starting to get comfortable on, regardless of whether or not they plan on instituting a live content strategy. Snapchat is still widely debated amongst big and small brands alike. “Should my brand be on Snapchat?” is a question I’m asked on a regular basis. 

What’s the cause of this Snapchat skepticism? Let's ask the Snap team themselves. 

As mentioned in the communication above, even Snapchat itself recommends careful consideration prior to taking on an organic presence as a brand. 

On the other hand, brands on Instagram can maintain their profiles on a day-to-day basis without feeling compelled to have a dedicated live content engine or team that serves up fresh ephemeral content each day just to maintain a presence within the platform. Instagram has delivered an experimental testing ground for brands sharing ephemeral content via Instagram Stories and Live Stories. Thus, providing brands with an opportunity to first test the waters before diving in head first into a Snapchat content strategy. 

When we think beyond the brand, and more about the platform’s user base itself, Snapchat brings something very unique to the table; Gen Z. And according to eMarketer, 68% of 18-24 year old’s use Snapchat. This younger demographic that were early adopters of the platform in its youth, still see it as an escape from the more mainstream channels that are overrun by their parents and grandparents.

Measurement & ROI: Snapchat doesn’t have the robust in-house measurement capabilities that Instagram recently rolled out, making Instagram the obvious frontrunner for marketers looking to prove ROI on their disappearing content. But that’s not to say that Snapchat doesn’t understand the need for thorough measurement and user analysis. They currently partner with third parties such as Moat, Tune, and Oracle Data Cloud in order to deliver performance metrics for advertisers

Beyond the App: Despite the platform’s own discovery challenges, Snap Inc. may have a leg up when it comes to real world search. We’re seeing this come to life through features like URL “Snapcodes.” These QR Snapcodes have made it easy for brands to drive traffic beyond the app and directly to their website. 

Source: Tech Crunch

Snapchat has also attempted to differentiate themselves by creating offerings that go well beyond their app, such as Spectacles. The introduction of Spectacles proves that Snap Inc. is now thinking about new layers to their story. A story that may very well completely reposition Snap Inc. as a camera company versus a social network. And they’ve even offered unique vending machine-style ways of delivering them to their passionate fans.   

Source: The Verge

Who will win the ephemeral content battle? 

“The platform with the most impactful augmented reality is likely to be the longest standing.” Nicole Spears, Social Media Specialist at Mindstream Interactive. “We’ve seen both brands and consumers eat up live, custom lenses and filters within these platforms. The most successful and engaging augmented solution provider will be victorious."

It seems with every update that Snapchat or Instagram implements, the other will soon be mimicking. But when it comes to all out victory, brands need to consider options beyond just an organic presence on either platform and will need to find strategic ways to remain relevant and engaging where their core audiences already exist.

As Snapchat’s team has communicated directly, their primary offering for brands is advertising. It's time we listen up, and appropriate our efforts accordingly.




Zach Gerber

Zach Gerber Marketing Director