Several months ago, I wrote a post for Media Bullseye that considered the claim that Snapchat was a dying app.
At the time, competitors, namely Facebook and Instagram, were luring Snapchat’s users away by stealing key product features, such as stories. Additionally, the app was struggling with generating revenue and growing its user base, due in part to the complicated process of verifying its influential users.
Since then, Snapchat exceeded some expectations by increasing its user numbers by millions. The platform has great potential to grow, especially among younger users.
Despite the promising prospects for the so-called dying app, it may be creating more problems for itself.
In early February, Snapchat rolled out an update that was met with less than favorable reviews.
Will this update have an effect on Snapchat’s future? Or will Snapchat be able to continue growing?
On February 6, Snapchat premiered the US rollout of an interface redesign. The update changed the layout and location of major features.
Almost immediately, users shared their dislike for the update.
A petition appeared on Change.org, imploring the company to restore the interface to its previous design. As of writing this, it has 1.2 million signatures.
Another user tweeted a screenshot of a DM conversation between themselves and Snap. The user asked the company how many retweets it would take for Snap to revert the design. Snap replied that they would reconsider the design if the tweet received 50,000 retweets. It was eventually discovered that the conversation never took place, as the image was photoshopped. Although the image was ultimately fake, it was retweeted more than 1.5 million times, becoming one of the most retweeted posts in Twitter’s history.
Snap also suffered when one of its most visible, well-known influencers tweeted about the app’s update. Kylie Jenner wrote, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.” The post was retweeted 76,000 times and liked by 374,000 accounts. She followed this with a reply 11 minutes later, saying, “still love you tho snap … my first love.”
Despite her correction, many publications credit her tweet with contributing to a $1.3 billion decrease in value from Snap. Following her post, shares of Snap Inc. fell 6.1 percent, accounting for the $1.3 billion in decreased market value.
Although shares fell, downloads have been on the rise. Following the February 6th rollout of the redesign, downloads in the US increased from 41 percent to 76 percent. Additionally, the number of first-time installers increased by 55 percent when comparing the week prior to and following the US rollout.
These increases are partially attributed to curious first-time users looking to understand the backlash coming from current users.
Snapchat cited creating two feeds for its users, one for content from friends and family and another for content produced by brands and celebrities, as the major reason for the redesign.
However, Facebook has tested this two feed concept in several countries throughout the last four months and found that users responded negatively to this reorganization of the platform. Facebook conducted surveys that showed users did not find the two feeds helpful for interacting more effectively with friends and family.
What do these developments mean for Snapchat?
Despite the challenges presented by the update, Snapchat has shown promising growth.
The app increased its user base by nine million daily active users from the third to fourth quarter in 2017. eMarketer predicts that the app will increase its audience by nine percent this year. Additionally, Stifel predicts the platform will grow its user population by 2.5 million daily active users during the first quarter of this year.
eMarketer also predicts that as Facebook continues to lose young users, Snapchat will thrive with 12 to 17 year olds. According to eMarketer, less than half of US teens in that age group will use Facebook once a month during 2018. They expect Facebook to lose two million users under the age of 25 this year, while Snapchat is expected to gain 1.9 million in the age group.
Despite the initial backlash from its users regarding the redesign, Snapchat’s future continues to look positive, especially with audiences under age 25. For brands looking to target that age group, the growth on this platform could mean that businesses should begin exploring viable strategies for getting involved with the platform and engaging with its users.