Snapchat is up there in the social media sphere for the simple reason that it is one of the few independent networks not under the sway/ownership of either Facebook or Google. While initially it saw numbers grow and grow things have started to change. Others (Facebook and now LinkedIn) saw what they did and went:
“You know what I think we’ll use that as well”
Where Snapchat was once unique it isn’t anymore. While this may seem like just a natural progression, I would have agreed with you up until recently when I was in Waterford IT giving some guest lectures. I came away from these lectures with one big takeaway: Generation Z is migrating from Snapchat to Instagram and Instagram Stories
If I was in Snapchat I’d be worried, I’d be very worried!!
Instagram Stories, imitation is the finest form of flattery
When Instagram stories was first introduced many laughed at the fact that it was basically a rip off of Snapchat:
- 24-hour long content
- Add filters etc
At the time it appeared a bit funny however within a few weeks I started to notice some interesting changes on Snapchat. As I went through stories on a daily basis:
- The stories started to get shorter
- There weren’t as many stories as before
This told me that people weren’t putting as much time and effort into their Snaps as before. While this seemed to the initial reaction to Instagram Stories I waited a while to see if things would change and if the bright and shiny new gloss would wear off for Instagram. The thing is it hasn’t. If anything Instagram has upped its game and is hitting Snapchat where it hurts, regular day to day users. We’re at the stage now that what seemed like a cheap tactic has in fact been a masterstroke by Facebook as through Instagram Stories:
The student becomes the Master
While numbers on Snapchat haven’t stalled aren’t growing that solid either.
Snapchat in trouble with Generation Z
While doing a guest lecture recently at Waterford IT to two different classes I decided to do some primary research and see what were the social media habits for Generation Z (I hate using terms like this but this article will be an exception. I’d expected that Snapchat would be the channel of choice as for many it is the one synonymous with this group, turns out I was wrong.
After asking both groups I found out that they use Instagram and have started to adopt Instagram Stories as well. Why is this a warning bell for Snapchat? Simple Gen Z is the key demographic on the network, if your key group is starting to migrate to another channel then something needs to be done and fast (cough cough Bebo).
Great insights from @DannyEdoBrien social media guru and @waterfordit graduate (BBS & MBS) yesterday at a lecture on Social Media to the BBS class. The social media podcasts on LinkedIn are great by the way Danny! @pmossy14 @OMarielouise @SheilaODonohoe pic.twitter.com/vOaUKpl7ZL
— Anthony Foley (@AnthonyP_Foley) November 9, 2017
What does the future hold for Snapchat?
One area you have to give Snapchat a lot of credit is that they’re constantly coming out with updates to the tool. Now, however, they may have to step up their game or risk falling into the category Twitter has been in for a while (lots of updates but stagnant growth). The thing is they are trying out new things, even if they aren’t that popular.
An algorithm looks set to be introduced and for those who give out about this, I say it didn’t seem to impact on Instagrams growth. Snapchat needs to be constantly innovating though as their unique USP (the 24-hour timeline) has been copied and any update they bring out that will have an impact will be copied by Facebook as well.
They are mooting paying content creators (ala YouTube) but the problem here is I’ve noticed the number of Snaps per story decrease and if casual users are starting to migrate then how useful a tactic is this? The Snapmap hasn’t exactly gone down a wonder either (as I discussed when it was first released). While who remembers Snap Spectacles? Initially, there was a terrific buzz around them but this has since changed. Snapchat is doing some innovative things to help evolve the network, the question is will they work especially in light of recent 3rd quarter earnings report.
They’re trying but struggling to build and advertising base. This is something Instagram through Facebook has been able to tap into and when Stories was first launched I saw it as one of the networks key advantages over Snapchat. Where people expect to see an ad on Instagram they get annoyed if they see one on Snapchat (similar to the non-skip ads on YouTube that helped create the ad blocker era).
Should Snapchat be worried?
In short yes, while initially, people tested out Instagram Stories because it was the new feature now the core audience on Snapchat Generation Z is starting to migrate over. Snapchat needs to adapt fast and evolve to meet this threat or it risks falling into the same category as Twitter did:
- Not sure where to generate revenue from
- Constantly updating just for the sake of it
- User growth plateauing
In the world of social media at the moment Instagram is the one with big growth while Snapchats has stalled. Should they be worried? Yes yes they should.