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Instagram VS Snapchat: Who’s Really Winning With Gen Z & Millennials?

The competition between the two platforms is fierce—but who’s really winning the battle for young consumers? We tapped into our social media tracker to compare, and see which Gen Z and Millennials are using more…

For some time now, Instagram has been adding features that look remarkably like their competitor Snapchat’s—all in the name of the battle for young consumers. Last year, Instagram added Stories, a signature feature of Snapchat, and in April it was announced that Instagram Stories was beating out the app it was accused of copying, used by 200 million daily—more than Snapchat’s 161 million. And Instagram has continued to compete with its “rival” by mimicking the features that made it popular; they introduced ephemeral messaging, added geostickers, and other features that feel Snapchat-esque. In May, Instagram copied the last thing it can from Snapchat: face filters. Though the ability to add fun AR filters to selfies is clearly a clone, there are a few differences. Hashtags can be applied to stories to link to that hashtag’s page, and there’s also an eraser (though it can’t remove real-world objects like Snapchat’s) and a rewind mode. But these differences are small when looking at the overall trend: Instagram has been coming for Snapchat’s shiny crown, and some began to believe that they were winning it. 

TechCrunch reported that Instagram reached 700 million active users a few months ago, and that the app hit the new user mark just four months after reaching 600 million. The introduction of Instagram stories may have been a major contributor to its accelerated growth…but of course those are overall users. Recently, eMarketer predicted that Snapchat will overtake both Facebook and Instagram among teen users by the end of the year, and the competition between the two sites is far tighter when looking at the much-coveted Gen Z and Millennial user groups. So which platform is winning out with these young consumers? We tapped into our most recent social media tracker to find out. Here’s what we saw when we compared their use side by side: 

Looking at the young consumers who say they use each social site, Instagram is the more popular platform among Millennials and Gen Z, by a nose. But while Instagram has a solid 10% lead over Snapchat among Millennials, among Gen Z, Instagram use is only 4% ahead, so the tide could turn for either platform. There’s also evidence that Snapchat’s young users are more engaged. Interestingly, Recode reports that despite “taking some major heat from Instagram,” Snapchat’s users are spending more time on the app. BTIG Research found that users spend 32.8 minutes per day on the platform, a 20% jump over six months ago. Users under 25 are even more loyal to the platform, spending an average of 42 minutes per day in-app, 26% more than in Q4. How is Snapchat stacking up against their competition? Instagram’s latest metric showed their under-25-year-olds spend “more than 32 minutes a day” on the app.

When looking at the platforms that young consumers are using daily, Instagram and Snapchat are neck-and-neck among Gen Z, while Instagram again has a strong lead among Millennials. But for the platforms that they are active on daily (posting or commenting) Snapchat is clearly in the lead with Gen Z, and activity is tied up among Millennials. 

So who’s winning out? Instagram looks to be capturing more overall users, but Snapchat is right behind among teens, and their users are highly engaged, which means time on the platform may be more valuable. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.