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So, What’s the Deal with Snapchat?

Sharmin Kent August 17, 2017

It looks like Snapchat might need a little extra room to avoid the spectacle of slow growth.

Snap, Inc. announced its user numbers during last week’s Q2 conference call: a year-over-year increase of about 30 million. But that increase is still short of analyst expectations, which sent Snap’s stock tumbling more than 16 percent. Snapchat’s also struggling to gain ground outside of North America, and sales of its hardware, Spectacles, have noticeably slowed.

So, what happened? Why is Snapchat’s popularity stalling? And what could that mean for marketers who want to leverage its audiences?

Standing Out in a Crowd

It’s not like Snapchat doesn’t have competition. With Instagram and Facebook offering Snapchat-like story features, both casual and power users are suffering from app fatigue. And marketers with limited budgets can only invest so much in various social channels, especially when several platforms have virtually identical uses.

There’s also the issue of user data: fewer users mean less insight into how to improve the platform. Facebook might have missed the boat when Snapchat refused its offer, but Snapchat now has to contend with Facebook, Instagram and all of the data the two platforms share. Snapchat needs to present clear differentiators to both marketers and users, and fun filters probably won’t cut it.

Influencing the Influencers

Influencers are also leaving Snapchat: AdWeek reports that nearly half of its influencers have put Snapchat on “pause” to focus on other social channels. With both brands and social platforms depending on influencers to attract and engage daily users, losing that many power users is a big blow to Snapchat. So, how can Snapchat stem the flow of fleeing influencers? And what can marketers do to keep its most effective influencers?

Hyper-segmentation could be the answer. By default, Snapchat audiences are smaller. A social network tailor-made for millennials must consider how millennials use it: longer content like Stories and shows might be new and exciting, but if they don’t attract and keep viewers, they’re a waste of time and resources. And discovering new ways to parse existing data could provide insight into how Snapchat can increase engagement among its remaining daily users.

There’s still room for Snapchat to grow, given it evolves along with its audiences. But last week’s news isn’t encouraging for Snapchat. Unless the social platform can find a way to keep up with its competition, it’ll end up becoming a digital ghost town.