Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences between Instagram and Twitter

Differences between Instagram and Twitter


Instagram is a social media platform aimed primarily at sharing media. Launched in 2010, Instagram has gained over 700 million users, with 100 million of those jumping on board just in 2017. Instagram has become the platform of choice for branding and advertising, capitalizing on its optimization for photo posts.


Twitter is a short-form news and social media site famous for its strict character limit on all posts. Especially popular for its use by celebrities and politicians, Twitter caters to quick personal updates as well as summary posts with outgoing links to longer articles. It’s also a popular platform for content and media sharing, as its re-tweet, quote, and reply functions allow for lots of user engagement.

Differences Between Twitter and Instagram

While Instagram and Twitter are both social media platforms, they have several differentiating features and purposes.

  1. Character Limit


One of Twitter’s most notable feature’s is its 140-character post limit. This limit has given Twitter its soundbite-quality posts over the years. There are some workarounds to the hard 140-character limit:

  • Urls will automatically shorten to save space
  • Quoted tweets and names will not count towards the character limit

However, Twitter officially remains as dedicated as always to its quick and direct posts.


Instagram doesn’t have a stated word limit to its posts, but user testing has reported a cap after 2,200 characters. On the app, this many words would display as a wall of text, so Instagram hides post text after around 240 characters (users can click to expand the rest). Hashtags also have a limit, although it’s quite high – a single post can have 30 hashtags before Instagram will stop indexing any more words.

  1. Post Style


Twitter offers many post styles and supports media uploads, but its basic format is short text posts under 140 characters. This format has made Twitter a primary source for news, both from mass media and individuals. Types of posts can include:

  • Text-only
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • GIFs
  • Polls


Instagram is, instead, completely focused on the media aspect of a post. Uploading on Instagram requires at least one photo or video. Users can then add text captions and hashtags as they’d like, but the media element is the main feature of every post. Types of posts include:

  • Pictures
  • Video
  • GIFs
  1. Direct Messages

Direct messages are a popular part of both platforms and function similarly. On both platforms, a user can use direct messages to send:

  • Text
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • GIFs
  • Stickers – Twitter-only

The main difference in the direct messaging is in group chats. Twitter allows up to 50 people in one chat, while Instagram only allows 15.

  1. Stories


Borrowing from Snapchat’s success, Instagram added its Stories feature in late 2016. Stories lets users add photos and videos taken over the last 24 hours into a set, or “story,” that appears in chronological order on their feed. They can add text and filters to the story before uploading, and view analytics after. After 24 hours, the story will disappear, like Snapchat’s function of deleting posts once viewed.


While Twitter allows multiple media attachments to be uploaded at once, it does not have a feature similar to Instagram’s stories, and the multimedia attachment process predates stories on Instagram as well.

  1. Monetization Tools


Twitter and Instagram both use ads, and this tool is the main source of monetization for most brands. On Twitter, ads usually appear as “promoted” tweets that occasionally display between the regular tweets on a user’s feed.

Instagram has more options for ad placement. Notably, Stories have been monetized, with ads popping up between auto-playing videos and stories as a user browses their feed.

Shop Now

Instagram has also introduced a “Shop Now” feature that allows brands to link to their stores. As the majority of users follow at least one brand on Instagram, this is considered a good potential tool for content engagement and commerce. Twitter does not currently have an equivalent feature.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are simply links placed by a user into a post leading to a site or product they are being compensated to promote. These links can be found on virtually any social media allowing outgoing links, and are popular on both Instagram and Twitter, especially as a way for popular users with no actual store to make money.

  1. Reply Styles


Much of Twitter’s popularity comes from its format of commenting and replying on other users’ tweets. Users can interact with tweets by:

  • Quoting
  • Retweeting
  • Replying
  • Liking

Quoting allows a user to post a comment to a tweet on their own feed and still keep the original tweet in the message for context. Retweeting simply copies the original tweet to the new user’s feed. Replying does not post a tweet to the new user’s feed, and instead creates a comment chain on the original tweet that other users can see and respond to. The reply chains can generate thousands of responses to one tweet.

Instagram’s replying method is a comment chain, like Twitter’s. There is no native re-posting feature, although there are apps that will attempt to replicate this style with limited success. The comment chains are also less organized than on Twitter, where each individual comments can have its own chain. Users can also like posts on Instagram.

  1. Verification and Celebrities


Twitter’s verification process, like Instagram and Facebook, adds a blue circle and checkmark beside a username when that person has been “verified” by Twitter staff to be the person they claim to be in real life. This was originally popular with popular celebrities, but is now used by politicians, companies, reporters, and anyone with a large enough following. Any account can request to be verified, but generally must have a certain number of followers before the staff will grant them special status.


Verification is still fairly new and limited on Instagram. While Instagram can be linked to verified Facebook accounts, only the most popular celebrities and names will actually get verified by Instagram. There is currently no process to request staff to look at an account, even if the linked Facebook account is verified.

  1. User Interfaces


Both Instagram and Twitter provide apps for iOS and Android users. The mobile versions are the main platform for each site, and all features are available through them.


Nearly all of Twitter’s features are available through the desktop/website version of the site. However, you will not be able to work the drafts you save on your phone. Using options like Live Video and enabled location are available but more difficult on the desktop version due simply to the nature of a desktop computer.

Instagram’s desktop version lacks many of the features of its app, and the company has been reluctant to optimize the desktop version to match the mobile ones. Recently it allowed desktop users to upload photos, primarily to help tablet users who have compatibility issues with the apps. However, features like live video are still not enabled.

Table of Differences between Twitter and Instagram

Features Twitter Instagram
Text-Only Posts Yes No
Photo, Video, and GIF Posts Yes Yes
Character Limit 140 Characters 2,200 Characters
Reply Chains Yes Yes – limited
Quoting and Reposting Yes No
Direct and Group Messaging Yes – up to 50 people Yes – up to 15 people
App for iOS and Android Yes Yes
All Post Enabled on Desktop Yes No – Photos Only
Live Video Yes Yes
Stories No Yes
Verification Yes – Request Cannot Request
Shop Now Link No Yes


  • Twitter and Instagram are both social media platforms designed for sharing media and content.
  • Instagram focuses on media content, while Twitter also allows text posts and polls.
  • Twitter features retweeting, quoting, and multilevel reply chains, while Instagram has only singe-level reply chains.
  • Users can group message up to 50 people on Twitter and up to 15 on Instagram.
  • Instagram offers Stories that disappear after 24 hours.
  • Both platforms allow ads and affiliate links, and Instagram also provides a Shop Now button.
  • The iOS and Android apps are fully-featured for Twitter and Instagram. Twitter’s website has nearly all the same options as the app, while Instagram’s desktop version is limited to photo posts.

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  2. The character limit of twitter has changed from 140 to 280 ..

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References :

[0]Read, Ash. “Instagram Lanches Instagram Stories: Everything You Need to Know on Instagram’s Excellent New Feature.” Buffer, 2 Aug. 2016, www.blog.bufferapp.com/instagram-stories.

[1]Read, Ash. “Instagram Lanches Instagram Stories: Everything You Need to Know on Instagram’s Excellent New Feature.” Buffer, 2 Aug. 2016, www.blog.bufferapp.com/instagram-stories.

[2]“Instagram Help Center.” Instagram, www.help.instagram.com/. Accessed 22 September 2017.

[3]Maina, Antony. “Why Instagram May be Better Than Twitter for Reaching Your Customers.” Small Business Trends, 3 May 2017, https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/05/instagram-vs-twitter.html.

[4]Monckton, Paul. “How To Post Instagram Photos from a Desktop Browser.” Forbes, 9 May 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/paulmonckton/2017/05/09/instagram-upload-from-desktop/#43c6e10b3068.

[5]Strout, Aaron. “Mobile vs. desktop: Are you optimizing both experiences?” Marketing Land, 5 May 2016, www.marketingland.com/mobile-vs-desktop-optimizing-experiences-175380.

[6]“Twitter Help Center.” Twitter, www.support.twitter.com. Accessed 22 September 2017.


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