Social media is revolutionizing the way marketing is considered, crafted, and distributed as a whole by closing much of the wide gap between a message and its intended audience. Visuals, in particular, are working overtime to prove that whole “worth a thousand words” proverb for 2017 and beyond. With finite resources and brainpower at a company’s disposal, where should they aim their efforts? The most obvious answer points to whichever platform your ideal customers are using the most. However, in certain cases, it doesn’t pay to go for a cruise on a sinking ship – and that’s exactly the direction that the once-popular Snapchat app seems to be heading.
Instagram, Snapchat’s most prominent competition, had a year headstart on the filter-heavy, ghost-repped app, rolling out in 2010 to the latter’s 2011. Instagram entered the social media game armed with an aesthetic that was closer to a luxe photo-rich scrapbook than the Twitter-speed, self-destruct-ready series of visual communication snippets supporting its new rival. It isn’t to say that Instagram was – or is – afraid to cut loose a little, but from the beginning the brand arguably had more gravitas than Snapchat; it’s a bet that looks to be paying off. While Instagram is quietly cribbing notes on popular features like disappearing messages, the brand is still associated with more positive aspects – high-end lifestyles, must-have products and demonstrations of products in use. In a nutshell, Instagram is for showing, where Snapchat is for telling; this is an important distinction for marketers wading into a jaded market, particularly in B2B.
Disruption is a word we talk about over and over in marketing – that crucial moment where your company “breaks through” the noise and static generated by a busy market to make a real impact, While both platforms are arguably geared towards showing off, Instagram’s “likes” system more closely resembles Facebook’s feedback setup and invites commentary. Snapchat’s story feature, by contrast, is losing users as quickly as Instagram is picking them up: the struggling app’s main claim to fame – disappearing pictures and posts – are easily thwarted by a screenshot, leaving the whole experience feeling disconnected, rather than immersive. In a marketing world where leads are as likely to pop up in a comment thread as a cold call, the importance of interaction tools can’t be overstated.
Another important consideration is the stability of the app or platform you’re investing your budget dollars in. Snapchat’s May 2017 IPO dipped 30% in the first three months alone, while Instagram remains comfortably perched on the substantial fortunes of parent company Facebook. The functionality of Facebook’s ad performance metrics extends to Instagram Insights and also offers linking accounts on both sites for a seamless marketing experience. Snapchat, try as it might, will never get that level of cooperation from Facebook, for obvious reasons. While diversification is still important, you’re unlikely to find a company pouring as much money into, say, advertising on Bing or Internet Explorer as they would on Google’s family of tools and sites – the ROI just isn’t there. While Snapchat isn’t facing quite so dim an outlook yet, it’s undeniable that Instagram has more users and is in a period of growth, while Snapchat is struggling to maintain its second-place-and-falling status.
Unless your brand or product has a compelling reason to use Snapchat – if, for example, you had a unique photo filter created to promote your brand – it’s highly likely that Instagram will offer much better ROI for your efforts, and deliver more comprehensive metrics as it does so. You only have so much time and a limited marketing budget, so don’t spread yourself thin trying to shoulder it all “yourselfie.” Partner up with heavy-hitter Instagram and you won’t have to scramble if Snapchat’s iconic yellow ghost ever, well, ghosts.