While Instagram’s user user base has ballooned to nearly 700 million monthly active users and of that, 400 million active users on a daily basis, Snapchat has struggled to keep pace.

In their recent quarterly earnings report, Snapchat reported just 178 million daily active users, which is a far cry from where Instagram is currently at.

A lot of the upward trajectory from Instagram is because they’ve added a number of new enhancements to keep users engaged 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.

7 unique features that will keep Snapchat ahead of Instagram

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. when the timing is right.

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 you should soon be able to slap your logo onto your snaps in real-time, 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 looking to brand their 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 your friends, but what better way to discover new things around you by simply launching a 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

A third 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 on the other hand, recently started allowing third-party link-sharing. Users can share links to their own content or something they find interesting and message it to their friends.

This might not seem like a big enhancement, but it sets Snapchat up for success with luring businesses to the platform.

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, but also providing more interactive ads such as custom filters, that should entice brands as we move into augmented reality 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

Last, but not least, is iPhone X. This advanced smartphone, with a top-notch camera and screen is going to make it fun to use Snap Lenses because of the lifelike capabilities. While Instagram offers face filters, Snapchat’s are more advanced.

Taking Advantage of Upcoming Snapchat Features

You certainly have a lot of options to consider when using Snapchat. The thing to remember is that are more advanced compare to Instagram. HeIre are some recommended steps to take.

  1. Learn the fundamentals of Snapchat
  2. Experiment with link-sharing – use a short URL to help track clicks
  3. Think about how your business can use circular video from Spectacles to give a unique perspective to customers
  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 that you might be able to adapt to

As you learn to understand the platform and what it has to offer, a clearer picture will emerge that Snapchat is an advanced social platform that will help you develop content that engages your audience and delights them in new ways.