Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, is having a weird year. They started strong with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) beyond their estimated value but in recent months that number has seen a sporadic dive.
They just reported a $1.2 billion revenue loss this past year. Even before their stock value started down Snapchat was facing a loss in daily users after Instagram released stories for their platform. Now Facebook even has stories and Snap’s stock is below currently below its IPO.
Every social media platform has stories except for Twitter which puts them even more so into the competitive landscape. And Snap isn’t exactly winning at that game. The hot dog dude and voice filters are not helping.
I only say this because Snapchat hasn’t added anything new (besides some new face and geo filters, the new but creepy Snap Maps, and the ability to add links to posts) since its IPO. Most of their new features have to do with more editing options on photos, not use engagement. While they’ve been staying relatively complacent other social media outlets have become accustomed to their innovative platform and in a lot ways they’ve improved it – like with Instagram livestreams.
It’s at a point now where people with a Snapchat audience and an Instagram audience are backing away from Snap completely and migrating their fans to the one platform. I’ve even seen people I follow on Snapchat use the platform to tell their followers about a livestream on Instagram. What if they could just have the livestream on Snapchat?
What we are seeing now is camera based social media evolving into the norm and into the freshest competitive platform for social media companies. Before Snapchat, social media was a keyboard only game. Users could only type out what they wanted to share and they could only do it when they had time to spare on a computer. Now everyone has those computers in their pockets and the pocket computers have such amazing quality cameras you can scan a piece of paper into PDF format onto them.
Instead of sharing only those big moments on social media we now have the freedom to share the small, insignificant moments that happen in between. Yet they aren’t so insignificant. Sometimes a random snap can be made with perfect timing, meaning moments are captured that otherwise may not have been if no one had reason to keep their camera out at all times.
When it first started out, Snapchat offered the sharing of pictures without the sacrifice of privacy. When Facebook and Instagram added stories, the majority of people seemingly stopped giving a shit about privacy.
What once seemed to be Snap’s biggest advantage, privacy, now seems like their one disadvantage. With Instagram livestreams and Facebook already having the feature, Snapchat loses out on its users’ ability to engage with their audiences in real time. Yes you can post public stories and your followers can reply to them but, since each reply is sent privately there isn’t a sense of community or conversation for them to build on. If Snapchat could implement their own livestreams, or even a comment section that works on their platform, they could see a much more engaged and involved user-base which by association lends to more potential users being drawn in. But that’s just something Snapchat could add to make their app more like their current competitors, or even better.
In the first few weeks of Instagram stories the Snapchat app lost a great portion of their daily users and it’s been a steady but slow decline since. Before 2017 their user-base grew 10% every month and now that rate is half or less each month and it’s seeing a level out in the future.
Before Facebook and Instagram took their idea, Snap had to take one of theirs. They ended up adding their discover page a while ago in order to allow news and media brands to connect with their audiences on a new platform – and it’s amazing. The brands put together some amazing stories and each one is easy to read and fun to follow along with. I prefer it to browsing on Twitter and Facebook for my news media.
There’s just one problem with the discover page: its layout is cluttered and unattractive. Seriously, it’s just a ton of random panels with pictures and text inside. Sometimes you can’t even tell what’s on the agenda for the panel you’re tapping on. But once you tap on it you get a flurry of beautifully presented information. If Snapchat could find a way to get more people to tap on those discover panels they could see a huge bump in traffic because the discover page is one of the easier, more straight forward forms of media consumption these days. I’m thinking a straight forward newsfeed-like page with larger, easier to read teaser stories to entice clicking. None of this random panel crap.
Snapchat was once the revolutionary social media platform and now it struggles to keep up with the very same platforms that were trying to beat them out not too long ago. If Snap Inc. can’t continue improving their product they may soon become a distant memory in social media innovation.
But I don’t want that. And neither should anyone else. Snapchat has had its features stolen since its inception. So why can’t Snap keep creating stuff that’s worth stealing? Or better yet, start commandeering some foreign ideas themselves? Seems like fair game now.