The tech industry loves a little healthy competition. Arguably the hottest battle right now is Instagram vs Snapchat.

The two social giants have been fighting it out for years releasing new features to outdo each other. Most notable of which is Stories.

It seems the introduction of Instagram Stories might have slowed engagement and growth on Snapchat on a large scale.

Wandera’s research team looked at a sample of 100,000 corporate mobile devices in its global network of enterprise customers over the past 12 months to find out more about the Instagram vs Snapchat battle.

Analyzing the past 12 months of usage across both apps shows the point in which Instagram toppled Snapchat, and all the fluctuations that happened along the way.

The story to end all stories

Instagram Stories was widely perceived as copying Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Also as an apparent attempt to steal its users and perhaps even threaten its IPO as revenge for the takeover snub back in 2014.

Whatever the reason, the feature has been incredibly successful for Instagram leading to a significant shift in engagement.

Since Instagram Stories was released on August 2nd, 2016, Instagram usage increased by 146% while Snapchat dropped by 25% (data consumed per user between Aug 2016 and June 2017). The immediate effect was a 41% increase (based on usage the month before vs month after August 2nd).

It’s easy to understand how this happens. People loved Snapchat’s video newsfeed feature. So if you offer it to Instagram’s already huge and loyal user base, of course, they will start broadcasting in video format to their well-established Insta followers.

instagram vs snapchat

Instagram vs Snapchat: when the tables turned

It’s clear from our analysis that the turn of the new year is when Instagram really turned the tables. A rapid increase in usage has seen Instagram widen its lead on Snapchat in the first half of 2017.

The average Instagram user consumed 42.9 MB per day in the second quarter of 2017, while the average over the past 12 months was 25.18MB. That proves the growth in Instagram data consumption has been concentrated in 2017.

Meanwhile, for Snapchat, 2017 has been a flop. The average Snapchat user consumed 20.8MB per day in Q2 2017, while the average over the past 12 months was 22.4MB, suggesting a slow and steady decline.

This means that either Snapchat’s app has become more lightweight and efficient with data consumption, or as is more likely the case, that users are simply logging on and using the app less than they used to each day.

When we look at the average user’s behavior for the full year, it further proves that Snapchat wasn’t tailing Instagram the whole time.

The average Instagram user consumed a total of 9.19GB over the past 12 months, which is only 12% more than Snapchat’s average user at 8.19GB.

The final twist of the knife

Following the successful adoption Instagram’s Stories feature, Selfie Filters was the last major Snapchat feature missing from Instagram.

Without a compelling reason for users to choose Snapchat Stories over Instagram’s almost identical version, Instagram could thereby widen the gap.

Our Instagram vs Snapchat analysis shows that Instagram’s biggest day of the year for data was May 21st, 2017 shortly after selfie filters were launched. The immediate effect of this feature launch was a 22% increase in usage (based on the month before vs the month after May 21st).

This bold act of copycatting will allow Instagram to grow upon its 200 million daily Stories users that already outnumbers Snapchat’s 166 million total users.

Snapchat’s attempts to win the arms race

Close to the end of 2016 Snapchat launched some new features in what might’ve been a desperate attempt to cling on to an Instagram-prone audience.

On November 8, Snapchat released World Lenses which allows users to slap a filter not just on a selfie, but on any object. On the same day, Snapchat also borrowed an idea from Instagram with Story Rewinds, which allows users to rewind stories just as they can on Instagram, by hitting the left side of the screen.

This injection of life may have led to a small bump in usage. Our analysis shows that December 3rd, 2016 was the biggest data day of the year for Snapchat.

Not too long after this on 13 December, Snapchat launched group chat and Shazam capability among other features. But they weren’t enough for Snapchat to hold the lead.

Instagram vs Snapchat: different apps, same user behavior

Our Instagram vs Snapchat analysis shows that both apps consumed the most data on Sundays and the least on Tuesdays. Given our research sample includes corporate devices, it suggests employees are treating their work devices as personal ones.

instagram vs snapchat

This isn’t news to us. Our service enables companies to see the split of business vs personal use on devices and manage that balance through custom policy enforcement and Content Filtering.

Snapchat and Instagram continue to grab headlines as they fight for social media dominance. As these two services add new features to attract users, they also cause more data to be consumed. Our analysis shows that these services use about 15-20% of a typical wireless user’s monthly data allocation. In other words, for every $100 spent on a mobile bill, consumers are spending $20 to post pictures of their kids, pets and vacations for others to enjoy. Think about that next time you decide to share an image of Grumpy Cat.
Michael J. Covington, Ph.D., VP Product Strategy at Wandera.

Based on data consumption over the past 12 months, the most popular time of day to use Instagram is 7:03 pm and to use Snapchat is 7:10 pm, which confirms expectations that employees turn up the personal use when work hours are over.

instagram vs snapchat

What can we learn from this? If you’re an end user, no matter which app you favor you will get more eyes on your posts if you publish them on the weekend and in the evening. If you’re a business that wants to control mobile cost and productivity drain, consider employing a solution to better control personal use on employee devices.

Everything you need to know about Content Filtering on mobile

An intelligent Content Filtering program can solve many of the most difficult enterprise mobility challenges facing companies today. It could be your best defense.

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