Student Work

App Comparison: Instagram and Snapchat

Instagram and SnapChat are two social media apps. They belong to the third generation of social media, and as such they are native phone apps. Instagram does have a web interface, but SnapChat’s site is purely an add for the app.

Both apps are driven by photographs and short videos, and were developed as mobile phone cameras proliferated. Both of these apps tend to appeal to a younger demographic, though Snapchat’s demographic is even younger than Instagram’s.

One big difference between the core functions of Instagram and Snapchat is that Instagram photos remain online and are visible to all your followers, while Snapchat photos disappear after you view them once or twice, and are sent to a specific individual or group of individuals. Snapchat also offers stories, which also disappear after a single viewing, but are visible to all of your friends. Instagram added a similar story mode in 2013, after Snapchat’s owners turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook.

By contrast, the founders of Instagram accepted a buyout from Facebook in 2012. Facebook actually let the app develop mostly independently until 2017, when declining revenue in the main product caused Mike Zuckerberg to take a heavier hand, and the original founders of Instagram departed. Since then, Instagram’s messages have been integrated with WhatsApp and Facebook Messanger, and disappearing photos have been added to all three apps.

In appearance, Snapchat is sillier than Instagram, with a plethora of fun filters and customizable emojis. Facebook/Instagram have tried to imitate these features of Snapchat, but without much success.

Instagram remains larger and more profitable than Snapchat, though Snapchat is certainly successful enough to make its creators rich. The Snapchat team believes on a new approach to social media, one with fewer but more intimate relationships.