There’s a vicious battle raging on the fields of social media. Snapchat – our daring protagonist – was once the leading light in disappearing messaging, but now faces an uphill struggle against “The Usurper” Instagram. Backed by the might of its parent company, Facebook, Instagram has taken Snapchat’s once unique approach to user content firmly in its sights, surpassing its number of daily users in only 8 months.

This is no coincidence. Instagram has, quite literally, sought to emulate – imitate, even – the popular Snapchat experience and feed off its ideas. Only last month Instagram announced its own clone of Snapchat’s selfie filters. And there are more similarities besides, with the only notable differences being to do with search function and the way brands can utilise the platforms.

…it’s those differences that have enabled Instagram to take the lead on disappearing messaging…

Unfortunately for Snapchat, it’s those differences that have enabled Instagram to take the lead on disappearing messaging (also known as ephemeral messaging). And it doesn’t look like Snapchat will be able to stymie the progress of Instagram’s growing “hordes” any time soon.

3 Ways Instagram is Overhauling Snapchat

1) Instagram’s Sheer Size and Growth

This one’s easy. Instagram now has over 700 million monthly users, and it continues to grow apace. Over 200 million of those are now posting Instagram Stories. Instagram is clearly a well-developed platform, and that means something else too…

…Instagram now has over 700 million monthly users, and it continues to grow apace.

Brands on Instagram likely already have a well-developed following. Now that Instagram offers many of the features pioneered by Snapchat, why would brands move to the latter where they have to build that followership all over again?

Of course, size isn’t the only metric we measure success by. Engagement is also incredibly important – see our article on micro-influencers – but Instagram is also winning the battle on those terms. According to TechCrunch, influencer marketing platform TheAmplify is seeing a 28% higher open rate on Instagram than on Snapchat.

2) Limited Discoverability on Snapchat

All the talk about the battle between these two giants has focused on functionality, and how similar they are becoming. But it’s important not to lose sight of the reason people use these services in the first place: to be seen.

…it’s important not to lose sight of the reason people use these services in the first place: to be seen.

Whereas Instagram does a lot to enable users to discover other users organically, based on preferences and app usage, Snapchat lacks anything similar. It may have a ‘Discover’ page, but that’s no good if you want to find a micro-user with interests in your niche.

But more than that, Instagrammers are able to ‘tap’ geotags and hashtags included in stories, making the user journey far more intuitive. Again, this could be another reason why engagement with Instagram Stories is that much higher than on Snapchat.

3) The Connectivity of Instagram

If, as we’ve said above, the main reason for using Instagram and Snapchat is to be seen, then Snapchat has a major problem. Its main user base isn’t able to link to websites or articles directly from their profiles.

Its [Snapchat’s] main user base isn’t able to link to websites or articles directly…

It’s a different story for advertisers, but that’s hardly the point; a social media platform is nothing without its users. Besides, if you’re a brand on Instagram you get even more toys to play with, including the ability to link to a website direct from Stories.

There’s more too…

The odds, then, are firmly stacked against Snapchat. But it is, perhaps, even worse than first thought. Instagram offers brands the same, market leading, targeting options as Facebook, greater visibility of metrics (followers, clicks, impressions, reach, etc…), and a more authentic user experience.

What does this mean for Snapchat? It’s difficult to say. The platform likely won’t ever be able to compete with Instagram in any meaningful way. Having said that, Snapchat is still a growing platform for the time being. Whether that remains the case is another thing. My advice to Snapchat?

Stop creating “innovative” filters for Instagram to copy, and work on catching up in the places that truly matter.