While Instagram’s user base has ballooned to nearly 700 million monthly active users and of that, 400 million active daily users, Snapchat has struggled to keep pace. In their recent quarterly earnings report, Snapchat reported only 178 million daily active users, a far cry from Instagram’s.

Much of Instagram’s upward trajectory stems from their strategy of adding new enhancements to keep users engaged (and staying) on their platform. These include such features as Instagram live video with friends, a new polling feature for Instagram Stories as well as recent changes to allow users to upload photos and videos to Instagram Stories that are longer than 24 hours.

While Instagram has added/borrowed features, Snapchat hasn’t kept pace in that department. Instead, they’ve launched a dancing hot dog costume. But don’t fret, Snapchat is making some positive moves that should propel them forwards in 2018.

Let’s take a look at how Snapchat is staying ahead of Instagram, even though the numbers might not reflect it.

8 Unique Features That Will Keep Snapchat Ahead

While a number of Instagram (and Facebook’s) features are borrowed from Snapchat, it doesn’t seem like this bothers Snapchat in the slightest bit. Instead, they are plodding along, positioning themselves for a major jump.

Here are some of the exciting features Snapchat is working on that will set them up for success.

1. Snapchat Lenses (AR/VR)

Snapchat is making a big push into augmented reality. One way they’re doing this is with Snapchat world lenses.

World lenses let you add 3D objects to a physical space. This will be particularly interesting for businesses, as brands will soon be able to slap a logo onto real-time snaps, without it physically being there.

Currently, Instagram doesn’t offer anything remotely close—unless you count face filters. This particular feature will be a boon for businesses interested in promoting their branded Snaps.

2. Snap Maps

If you want to discover Snaps around you, look no further than Snap Maps. Not only can you keep tabs on where your friends are (producing their snaps), but what better way to discover new businesses and landmarks around you? It’s as simple as launching a Snap Map.

This particular feature should prove very useful for people looking for better discoverability without the need to rely on ads.

3. Third-Party Link-Sharing

Another feature that will benefit Snapchat is third-party link-sharing.

Right now, if Instagram users want to add links to their Instagram posts, they’ll have to rely on using their Instagram bio. Simply put, there isn’t an easy way to add links from Instagram.

Snapchat users can already share links to their own content or something they find interesting and message it to their friends. This may not seem like a big enhancement, but it sets Snapchat up for success with luring businesses to the platform. Especially businesses who can use the platform to easily publicize collaborations with numerous brands/urls.

4. Snap Ads

Snapchat recently started experimenting with Snap Ads and allowing Snap pixel tracking for retargeting. While Instagram provides advertising via Facebook’s Ad platform, Snapchat is beginning to put the pieces in place to help users monetize their Snapchat presence.

In particular, Snap is staying true to their roots by focusing on mobile while providing interactive ads such as custom filters, that should entice brands as we move into using more augmented and virtual reality in 2018.

5. Snapchat Spectacles

Instagram currently does not make hardware. Snapchat does, in Snapchat Spectacles.

While sales of Spectacles have been slow to take-off, these still give Snapchat a significant advantage over Instagram, especially considering these could be a test for future glasses with augmented reality capabilities built-in. Advantage, Snapchat.

6. Snap Accelerate

Snapchat wants to make it easier for businesses to get the necessary support and resources they need. What better way than to use Snap? With their new program called Snap Accelerate, startups can get the help they need to succeed with Snapchat.

Instagram currently does not offer a way to learn how to leverage Instagram to grow your startup. This gives Snapchat yet another advantage over Insta.

7. iPhone X

iPhone X is an advanced smartphone, with a top-notch camera and screen. Using the iPhone X increases the fun in using Snap Lenses because of the lifelike capabilities. While Instagram offers face filters, Snapchat’s are more advanced.

8. A Redesigned Snapchat

Last, but not least, probably the biggest change that will keep Snapchat ahead of Instagram is a redesign. This is because people have said that Snapchat is difficult to use (like anything, it becomes more familiar the more you use it). This particular change to how you use Snapchat may also be controversial because they’re separating the “social” from the “media.” Basically, they’re separating friends from businesses. This can prove to be a positive move for Snap in the long-run. While your Facebook and Instagram feeds have grown over time, they have become a convoluted mess as more and more people and businesses join social media and are vying for your attention. Depending on the market’s reception, this could be another strategy, that combined with all of Snapchat’s advanced features, keeps them ahead of Instagram.

Taking Advantage of Upcoming Snapchat Features

There are a lot of options to consider when using Snapchat for PR. The thing to remember is that it’s a more advanced platform in comparison to Instagram. Here are some recommendations.

  1. Learn the fundamentals of Snapchat
  2. Experiment with link-sharing – use utm codes and a URL shortener to help track clicks
  3. Think about how your brand can use circular video from Spectacles to give a unique perspective to your audience
  4. Create Snap Ads – so you understand more about how they work
  5. Follow some of your favorite brands to see what types of Snaps they share and how you can adapt that to your own strategy