Has Instagram Made Snapchat Irrelevant?

Once upon a time, Instagram was where you publicly posted the photos you were really proud of and wanted the world to see, while SnapChat was where you privately posted other photos that you were proud of, but only wanted a few people to see — and where there was no lasting record of the visuals. In the years since, Instagram has increasingly encroached on SnapChat’s turf, and the Facebook-owned service’s latest update may lead some to wonder: Is there any reason to have both SnapChat and Instagram?

Instagram announced today that users will now be able to message each other photos and video that self destruct, much like the vaporizing messages that first made SnapChat a billion-dollar baby in Silicon Valley.

Instagram also confirmed that it’s taking a page from its parent company Facebook’s playbook and adding live video in the coming weeks. Instagram’s live video will differ from Facebook’s feature in that it cannot be viewed again once the broadcast is over.

And now that Instagram will also have self-destructing messages, a feature that Snapchat first popularized, and live video, which Snapchat doesn’t have, why would anyone have both? Let’s see how the two stack up against each other when it comes to features.

What Does Snapchat Offer?

• A “Stories” feature that lets you publish images and photos that expire after 24 hours

• Self-destructing photos and videos that can be sent via private message

• A large library of animated “lenses” for video (Think: puking rainbows and cartoon dogs with wagging tongues)

• Rotating library of overlays (i.e. time and temperature, altitude, speed, geo-tagged options for users’ specific location) as well as filters

• Ability to add stickers, text, drawing to photos/videos in the Stories feed as well as for content shared privately with friends

• Private video chat between friends

• Fewer restrictions — or at least less enforcement of restrictions — on nudity and other adult-oriented content.

• Advertising in multiple forms: Branded, short video content from advertisers that you choose to watch; Short commercial videos that run while you review Stories clips; branded lenses and overlays.

What Does Instagram Offer?

• Public sharing of photos and short videos. Other users can comment, and all posted items will remain indefinitely unless you delete them or make your account private.

• A SnapChat-like “Stories” feature with images and photos that expire after 24 hours

• Diet Photoshop “filters” that let users instantly tweak the appearance of uploaded photo/video

• Private messaging that allows users to send photos and videos that can be kept forever

• SnapChat-like self-destructing photos and videos that can be sent via private message

• Advertising from brands/companies within users’ feeds as well as in Stories

• The ability to add filters, text, drawing to photos/videos in the Stories feed or for content shared privately, though text and drawing is not available for content shared in public feeds

• Feature that allows users to tag their friends in a public feed as well as Stories

• Live video

• A more “family friendly” atmosphere, where restrictions on adult content is heavily enforced.

Is There Any Difference?

While both platforms have added features and functionalities in recent years, they both retain much of what initially made them popular. However, Instagram now offers what was once the core feature for SnapChat — the ability to send private, self-destructing images and video, while SnapChat has not even attempted to make any inroads on Instagram’s turf as a public photo-sharing platform. So now an Instagram user may have little need for SnapChat, while a Snapchat would need Instagram (or some other photo-posting service) for permanent sharing of images.

One key feature that SnapChat still has going for it is the Lenses and overlays it offers to users. Thus, anyone wishing to turn themselves into a slobbering dog or crown their head with an animated butterfly wreath has to — for the moment — stick with SnapChat, at least so you can take that photo and post it on Instagram.

At the same time, there’s a certain degree of anonymity to SnapChat that many people don’t feel with Instagram. A desire to use something that isn’t owned by Facebook may help keep some SnapChat fans from jumping ship. SnapChat is also prepping to go public for $25 billion, which could give the company oodles of cash to spend on creating a permanent photo-sharing feature if it chooses to.

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