The main attraction of the Snapchat platform for users is that you can post content on a “here one moment, gone the next” basis. All the evidence that surfaced in 2017 suggests, though, that without major changes, the “here one moment, gone the next” feature may soon describe Snapchat itself. Influencers have already voted with their feet and many are sidestepping Snapchat in favor of Instagram Stories. This is likely to be exacerbated, with influencers being shifted to a separate section of the Snapchat platform interface in a recent update. Influencers are no longer included in the same feed as the friends of users, which is likely to affect the views of these influencers. We are still waiting to find out whether these are views are positively or negatively impacted.
Snapchat is still growing in usage, but at a much slower rate and is being overtaken in importance by Instagram, who have had success with their own stories feature.
As you can see from Statista’s data, Snapchat snowballed in popularity during 2015-16. However, its growth rate shrunk during 2017. By the end of Q3 2017, Snapchat enjoyed 178 million active daily users.
A year ago we asked the question, Instagram vs Snapchat. Who’s winning? 12 months on, the answer is clearcut.
Their biggest competitor, Instagram, has improved its reach to 300 million daily active users after its first year of operation. With Instagram now having 800 million monthly users, this raises questions regarding Snapchat’s future.
The Market is Uncertain About Snap’s Future
Since Snap (the company behind Snapchat) listed on the NYSE in March 2017, its share price generally declined before a recent surge saw it rise more than $US8 over a 2-day period. It is currently sitting on $US20.41, up from a recent low of $US12.38. It listed with an initial public offering (IPO) of $US17, reaching a high of $US29.44 on its second day of trading.
A problem is that brands, influencers, and (adult) users prefer Instagram Stories. After spending time playing with Snapchat, many people jump the fence to the Facebook-owned competitor.
This has led to a flow-on effect within Snapchat. In late 2017, Snap made cutbacks at its hardware lab, which makes its Spectacles video-gaming glasses. Snap had tried to diversify from just being an app. It wanted to make hardware that would help people create better media. Snap Spectacles was their first product to market. But sales have generated insufficient revenue for the investment Snap’s made.
An Influencer’s View of the Future Snapchat Platform
In September 2017, Forbes interviewed tech entrepreneur and influencer, Oliver Isaacs. Isaacs provides insightful comments on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. He has his finger firmly on the pulse of technology and social media today.
Isaac observed that “I’ve noticed a clear pattern. There is a definite shift in focus and energy from Snapchat Stories to Instagram Stories. Ever since Instagram replicated all of Snachat’s features, it’s been downhill for Snapchat since then”.
He sees Snapchat’s biggest weakness is a lack of defensible technology. Its competitors can cherry-pick and replicate its best features. Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn now offer some form of video stories on their platform. These networks are all larger, with more users, influencers, advertising, and clout.
One of Snapchat’s problems is that not only have the more prominent platforms stolen Snapchat’s best features, but they have also added invested in improving these features. They give an even better user experience.
The Exodus to Instagram Stories
Instagram and Facebook seem determined to take over Snapchat’s share of the market. Instagram Stories is in many ways a souped-up version of the Snapchat platform, offering enhanced features.
Many influencers opted Snapchat. They liked the way you could tell a story with a series of images or short clips. But they found that their target audience was never on the platform in high volume.
Instagram is a different platform though. Instagram is the fastest growing social channel, and many influencers have substantial support bases there. Influencers praise the feature set of Instagram Stories. In turn, Instagram noticed influencers flock to their platform, so they invested additional time and money into improving Instagram Stories features.
Almost 80% of influencers use Instagram Stories, which shows a clear interest.
Adweek surveyed 600 influencers in May 2017. Amongst the questions, they asked which platform the influencers preferred. Most ran accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Around 55% also had a YouTube channel. Only 30% of the influencers admitted having a Snapchat presence. Of these, 46% said that Snapchat would be their first account they would cut.
Female Influencers Opt to Bypass Snapchat
In June 2017 Collective Bias ran a poll of 550 female influencers and asked them which social networks they considered most important for their personal brand. Their replies covered a range of channels, with the most important being Instagram 28.4%, Pinterest 26.4% and their blog at 24.7%. It is clear that this was not a video-focused group, as YouTube came in at just 0.6%.
Yet even that tiny YouTube result was better than Snapchat’s figure. Nobody ranked Snapchat as her most important social network.
One reason for this result could be an inherent problem with Snapchat’s format. It was designed to show a narrow, select group of people content for a very short time period. That is not how most successful influencers want to share content. Most influencers aim to share their content as widely as possible, which shows the inherent problem with the platform for influencers.
One woman who operated on Snapchat for about a year is Sarah Peretz. She posted popular food and beauty stories, with a reasonable support base. She chose to leave Snapchat after speaking with a Snapchat executive. The executive told her, “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.” If the executives believe that, it is little wonder that influencers feel frustrated.
Snapchat Rethinks its Design in an Effort to Stem User Churn
The Snapchat platform has not sat still as its users migrated elsewhere. They recently implemented a major redesign. The aim was to create a clear distinction between stories from real friends and content from marketers and other businesses.
Snapchat separates commercial and “media” content into a Discover page. This includes all stories from publishers, creators and (in most cases) influencers.
A Snapchat user finds his Discover page by swiping right from the opening camera screen. Alternatively, he can now see his conversations with friends by swiping left.
Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, claimed that the change was designed to separate fake news from your feed. However, it also makes life tougher for brands and influencers wanting to increase their visibility.
The change has not sat well with Snapchat’s fans, however. More than 1,000,000 angry users have signed a petition begging for a return to the familiar design. Snap has resisted their demands, though, with an official response of, “updates as big as this one can take a little getting used to, but we hope the community will enjoy it once they settle in”.
Our Co-Founder at PMYB, Rohan Midha, gave his opinion to the BBC regarding the removal of celebrities and influencers from the “friends” section. “People want to follow influencers because they really like them, whereas Snapchat just sees them as brands”, he told the BBC when interviewed.
One Exception to Snapchat’s Diminishing Importance
Nonetheless, if you are looking to target Generation Z or younger Millenials, then Snapshot is still a valid social channel to consider for your influencer campaign. Millenials prove they are still rebels at heart, by bucking the trend away from the Snapchat platform.
In Statista’s data of the most popular social networks for US teenagers, the Snapchat platform is still the preferred channel, approaching 50% of their social media usage. Clearly, teenagers do not want to be on the same network as their parents.
eMarketer believes that about 79% of Snapchat’s users are aged 12 to 24.
If you are looking to target any group other than Generation Z and younger Millennials, then you are better off diverting your money to a more suitable platform, such as Instagram or Facebook.