Snapchat, Instagram, social media apps

Snapchat made the headlines again last week with huge losses and a feeling of uncertainty amongst shareholders. As Facebook uses Instagram to crush any sort of advantage Snapchat had in the social media world, eSense asks what can Snapchat offer over and above Instagram, or has it lost the fight against this social media giant?

Almost a year ago, eSense wrote about the emergence of Snapchat as a real contender as a successful social media app. We also discussed the advantages it offered businesses, connecting with a younger audience, who were proving hard to reach.

In the 12 months that followed, via its own image-sharing social media app, Instagram, Facebook went after this young competition in the market, recreating, even blatantly copying some of Snapchat’s innovations to ensure that it didn’t lose out on the market share of social media users.

And it has been undoubtedly successful. Instagram is now hugely popular and losses at Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., have nearly quadrupled in the last three months.

Snapchat went public in March this year and was valued at a colossal $28bn on its first day of trading. In the second quarter however, Snap Inc lost $443m and saw shares plummet by more than 16%.

Is Snapchat able to recover from this setback?

eSense believes it will be very difficult. Facebook has really done (and will likely continue to do) everything in its power to prevent Snapchat from having an advantage on any of the features it offers with its social media app.

Last year, one of Instagram’s main competitive moves was the release of its Instagram Stories. This closely mirrors the Snapchat Stories. Even Instagram’s own CEO, Kevin Systrom credits their rival for this innovation. This addition has drawn new users to Instagram, who may not have previously been fans of the carefully curated, polished pictures that are the standard with this social media app and may have disliked the fact that, once posted, these images are available to access online long term. In contrast, Instagram Stories, like Snapchat’s, disappear after 24 hours and encourage users to be more fun, spontaneous and real with their uploads.

Back in April, Instagram claimed that over 200 million people a day used their Stories, posing a real threat for Snapchat.

This copycat move by Instagram, along with their new funny face filters, location tags and drawing tools, has seen its user base grow to 250 million daily users. Snapchat’s audience, although not small at 166 million daily users, is definitely falling well behind their competition.

Furthermore, Instagram has some more innovations of its own. For example, live videos offer users  a chance to  connect with followers in real time. As with Stories, live videos viewing potential is also capped. Once a video has ended, it’s no longer visible in the app, unless you share a replay of it to your story.

Instagram also has its unique boomerang feature, which allows videos to be played back and forth for amusing effects.

This combination of new developments on Instagram has certainly left Snapchat trailing. Although, Snapchat still reports to have better engagement rates, a contradictory report in February by Instagram tells a different story, claiming those users under 25 spent 2 minutes longer on Instagram Stories than on Snapchat and those over 25, 4 minutes longer.

Snapchat offered the social media world something new, fun and quirky that appealed to the millennial market, in contrast to what was once the serious, polished and posed image-sharing app of Instagram. However, when Facebook set its sights on this social media threat, aiming to quash it as competition, it seems the fun may now be ending for Snapchat.

By Lorna Paice

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