What Is The Future Of Snapchat?
Snapchat, a subsidiary of Snap Inc, is one of the most popular social media platforms, especially for teenagers. In the US, 75% of 12 and 13 year olds and 90% of 14-24 year olds use Snapchat. Because of Snapchat’s success, its ideas have been adopted by other social media platforms such as Facebook. For example, Facebook attempted to acquire Snapchat for $3 Billion in 2013. When Snapchat declined, Facebook added stories and filters, which originated on Snapchat, to Facebook and Instagram.
Despite its successful ideas that other social media platforms have sought to imitate, Snapchat has recently been facing some difficulties, such as high executive turnover and rocky stock prices. Snapchat executives tend to leave the company after less than a year, most recently CFO Tim Stone. Since March 2017, Snapchat’s stock price has gone from a high of $27.09 to a low of $4.99 in December 2018 to its current value of $14.87.
Worryingly, after many years of rapid growth, Snapchat has recently faced a slight decline in users. In 2018, Snapchat’s daily users decreased from 191 to 186 million. The decline in users is largely due to the many independent content creators that have left Snapchat. Recently, Snapchat created a discover page with stories that could be of interest to viewers, with ads between the stories. However, Snapchat focused on the content of advertisers and mainstream media to try to make more money from advertisements.
As a result, it is difficult to find the stories of independent content creators, which are often at the bottom of discover pages. Because of this, many independent content creators have left Snapchat for other social media platforms such as Instagram. Many of the independent content creators who still have Snapchat accounts only use them to post links that redirect their fans to other video sharing platforms, such as YouTube. As a result, many of the fans of these independent content creators have either left Snapchat or spend less time on Snapchat and more on Instagram or YouTube.
In the last week however, Snapchat has made efforts to grow its community of independent content creators. On July 10th, Snapchat announced that it would be adding “Creator Shows.” These shows will be stories in the first person and will focus on the personality of the content creator. Some creators who will get shows include Serena Williams, Kevin Hart, Emma Chamberlain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Creator Shows” will be visibly displayed on the discover page next to advertisements and mainstream media.
Additionally, Snapchat will add “Highlights” and “Official Profiles” for independent content creators.
“Highlights” are similar to Instagram’s “Story Highlights,” where creators can choose their best snaps to put on their official profiles. Official profiles will include a bio, email, photo, URL, and location so that fans can feel more directly connected to their favorite creators. Additionally, official profiles and highlights will allow independent content creators to have more visibility, because fans will always be able to see content from the creator, even if they haven’t posted recently. However, these initiatives haven’t been implemented yet, and it remains to be seen if they are able to bring independent content creators and users back to Snapchat.
Snapchat has made efforts to increase the number of users and the amount of time they spend on the app. Examples are YOLO and Snapchat Games. YOLO is a platform where users can ask other users anonymous questions and the former can post the questions on their stories with answers. Snapchat Games are simple games, resembling those of Gamepigeon on iMessage, where users play their turn then snap the result to the other user, who then takes their turn.
YOLO has been effective in terms of increasing the use of Snapchat, becoming one of the most-downloaded apps on iPhone within a week after its May 2 release. However, after its early surge, YOLO’s popularity has died down, especially in the United States. YOLO is unlikely to be an effective long-term method to increase Snapchat usage. Snapchat Games have yet to grow in terms of popularity and use. I personally doubt that Snachat games will become popular because the games are fairly low quality and because similar games on other platforms such as iMessage and Facebook Messenger are easier to use.
Snapchat’s success, which affects executive turnover and stock price, is largely controlled bythe number of users and how long they spend on the app. Therefore, the future of Snapchat depends on whether or not independent content creators will return as well as the popularity, success, and monetization of future ideas to increase the number of users and the amount of time they spend of Snapchat.
Written by Lorrenzo Lizzeri, Edited by Matthew Durborow & Alexander Fleiss