Snapchat vs. Instagram – Early Days

You may have read last month that Snapchat blew past Facebook’s darling app Instagram in terms of daily pictures uploaded, registering 150 million per day vs. 40 million per day for Instagram. It has been a meteoric rise. Snapchat launched publicly on iOS in September 2011, and on Android in November 2012 – just eight months ago.

If you’re a parent, you may also be looking forward to Snapchat fading away, as most manias do. Given all the problems that it, and users, have had with pornography, other inappropriate content, spam, hacks and questions about the app’s key feature, that pictures are actually deleted, one might expect that something else would come along to displace Snapchat, or users would tire of it.

Not so fast.  A look at Google Trends for searches of Snapchat vs. Instagram indicates that Snapchat may just be getting started.

Anecdotally, this blog has gotten a lot of readership in the last month, and over half of the unique views have been for Snapchat-related posts.

The idea that it is early days for Snapchat is probably related to the fact that how people use Snapchat is very different from how people use Instagram. Snapchat is mostly a one-to-one or one-to-few app, where typically a user and a group of friends will decide to download and start using the app and go from there. Instagram is a network/broadcast platform, more similar to Facebook and Twitter. Users may like Instagram because they enjoy taking pictures and tinkering with the filters, or as a means to save and post pictures to other networks such as Twitter or Facebook.

Simply put, while anybody could be an Instagram user, if your BFF or significant other is not yet on Snapchat, you probably aren’t either.

Instagram, is reported to have 100 million users, which is a big number, but tiny compared to Facebook and Twitter, which have 1.1 billion and 500 million respectively. Snapchat hasn’t released a number of registered users, but most think that number is well below 100 million. My guess, based on some conversations I’ve had,  is that it is closer to 20 million.

If that is the case, then user engagement on Snapchat, as measured by pictures per user per day, is huge. If Snapchat is still early in its life cycle, and there are no improvements in both the stability of the platform and user behavior (sexting and reposting “private” pics), we are going to be reading Snapchat horror stories for some time to come. It is likely to be on ongoing challenge for parents of teens.


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