Last week I left Snapchat, but not just in the sense of relegating the app to a folder in my phone. Nope, instead I decided to sign out and delete the app entirely. There have been articles over the past few months swinging both ways from people staying and people leaving.
Without doubt the Snapchat app has taken a hit from Instagram stories. Many brands and influencers have left the platform, some still remain but there are nowhere near as many as this time last year. I think Snapchat still holds value but from a standpoint of connecting with friends, if your friends are big on Snapchat then more than likely you will be too.
Many of my friends never actually got into Snapchat but really digg Instagram. However if you are in the branding game or the influencer game, Snapchat always seems to be an uphill battle for discoverability and that is what is hitting them where it hurts.
The growth of Snapchat
We have seen Snapchat grow over the past number of years from an app seriously lacking maturity and evolve into one of the darlings of technology. It was daunting for new users, the interface was completely different, the app was innovative in delivery and execution.
Despite being considered a “hostile” experience, the platform grew fast to 180 million monthly active users. A camera app which didn’t save anything, you could share what you wanted without fear it may escape when the recipient saw it.
The genius moment was stories, a continuous stream of photo or video content where the video was no more than 10 seconds long. It became addictive, a platform to connect in a new way. Brands and influencers started jumping on board the hype train and one big problem that was always pointed out was the lack of discoverability.
To find new people you wanted to add on Snapchat, you needed to know exactly who you were looking for. Then Instagram came along.
Snapchat was predicted to have a record 2017, it seemed that there was nothing that could stop them. Of course nobody anticipated that Facebook were going to clone the whole thing and stick it in Instagram.
Instagram was blasted at first, labeled copycats and what surprised me more than anything was how they kept the news of what they were working on so silent.
However Instagram is much more brand friendly than Snapchat. They provided analytics, discoverability through the explore tab, the evolved their story tool fast and incorporated stickers, links, boomerang, live streaming and more.
Initially people were trying to figure out how to use both, but slowly I noticed things changing on Snapchat and those changes ultimately led to me deciding to just leave the platform completely.
What happened after Instagram stories?
In the months that followed the Instagram stories launch I noticed content creation from the people I was following started to decline on Snapchat. Influencers, creators, marketers, brands, businesses…they were all snapping a lot less. Even the few personal friends who had gotten into Snapchat were creating less.
As well as that, my Snaps were being viewed less, a lot less. I ran Snapchat stories alongside Instagram stories and found that the level of interaction, retention and engagement was falling on my Snapchat account.
Over on Instagram however, it was climbing. I was getting more messages through Instagram stories, more engagement, higher viewer numbers. The people who I had followed on Snapchat and who had disappeared, well I found them again on Instagram.
This won’t be the same experience for everyone, some people will still be rocking over on Snapchat and will not have noticed that much of a different, some will still have a personal friends circle hanging out on Snapchat and will still be enjoying it. However this is what I experienced and it kinda sucked because in the year I had started hanging out on Snapchat I really advocated for people to use it.
Why did I decide to ditch Snapchat entirely?
So for the past number of months I have had Snapchat on my phone, sitting there. Maybe once every few weeks I might open it but there is never anything new there really to look at.
I personally found Instagram’s take on stories to be more authentic purely as it complements what they have going on in the main feed. Instagram was like the museum for perfectly shot photos, but with stories you can get everything in the one place and there was simply no reason for me to look at Snapchat.
Instagram managed to grow their stories so fast and overtake Snapchat purely because of the network they had built before launching stories. The real difference I notice in Instagram stories compared to Snapchat? I can get everything from friends to influencers, maybe a photographer in America or a foodie in Asia and it is all in the one app. I wasn’t getting that on Snapchat because there was so much work trying to find great new people to follow.
The little content that seems to be going up on my Snapchat now from other people seems to be for the most part people who are loading the same stories onto both platforms.
Ultimately it came down to the fact that I wasn’t using the app anymore and when I did get pinged for messages on Snapchat it was just annoying me. So the best thing to do was log out and delete the app entirely.
Snapchat still has value
Like I said, my experience will be different to how others experience Snapchat. Some people will still be loving it and others may find themselves in the same place as I found myself in. There is still value here when you want to connect on a platform more intimately with friends.
Much like Twitter, I don’t think Snapchat is going anywhere but maybe it is reaching a ceiling where growth will simply plateau. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and I don’t regret the decision to jump in.
Not what Snapchat wants to hear but creating stories on their app meant that when Instagram rolled around with their stories tool I was good to go. I knew what it was all about and knew how I could use it, there was no learning curve for Instagram stories and that is thanks to the experience on Snapchat.
Their most recent results in just the week before last saw them miss targets across the board and Wall Street was not impressed as the share price tumbled 17% following their Q2 earnings report. They only increased the user base by 7 million in the last quarter which indicates just how slow new users are taking up the platform.
They also fell short on revenue expectations and the company net loss seems out of control. They posted a net loss of $443 million compared to $116 million at the same time last year.
Maybe they will be able to rebound and find their feet again, but they are up against the Facebook owned Instagram app and that will always be a tough ask.
Even more daunting is a recent survey by Adweek revealed that 46% of influencers would give up Snapchat if they had to uninstall one platform.