Battle of the Apps - Instagram vs Snapchat

Paul Neto

Engagement always wins, but it also depends how you define engagement

In this instalment of the Battle of the Apps, we are looking at engagement and how Instagram and Snapchat compare. While very distinct social apps, they do have many overlapping features so we thought it would be interesting to look at their engagement characteristics for users and for brands. When we talk about engagement, we are first referring to the overall average active hours per week that an app is used, and the number of active users. Secondly, we look at the number of times an app is first used after their phone is picked up. We refer to this as primary engagement which offers us an interesting insight.

Using our Retro data collection technology, we had thousands of individuals share their actual app usage to provide some compelling insights. This is the same data that powered our MobileLife report.

While the number of weekly active users aged 18-25 in the U.S. on iOS devices was an astounding 82% for Instagram, we saw Snapchats reach for the same segment to come in at 71%. On average we saw 5.5 hours of active engagement per week for Instagram and about 3 hours for Snapchat. Based on these two metrics, we may start to think that Instagram is the winner here, but this is where we think things get interesting.

Looking at primary engagement, we found that Snapchat was the first app used when a phone was picked up approximately 66 times per week. This is compared to 53 for Instagram. For this reason alone, we believe Snapchat wins overall.

This may be a controversial one and we've heard feedback already. While Instagram has overall a greater number of total active hours of usage and a greater number of weekly active users than Snapchat, we can't ignore the power of when someone picks up their phone. Snapchat is the first app used almost 25% more often (66 vs 53 times weekly) than Instagram. We believe that having the right real estate on a phone screen and being the first used to be powerful metrics that we have been ignoring for too long. How does your app stack up?


Interested in this data? We have tons more. Head over and check out our Retro Storefront, explore this Retro data in detail, or check out more findings in our MobileLife report.