How has an app based on the simple concept of sending 10 second photos and videos managed to be valued at over £15 billion in only 4 years, according to this source? Snapchat has done this by sticking to what made it successful at the start, whilst improving the basics of the service and adding new features to keep it fresh. This has allowed it to maintain and build interest with its core target of Gen Z and Millenials: 81% of Snapchat users are below the age of 24 bracket, as reported here.
1. What has stayed the same?
For the app to maintain it’s success, it has stuck to its fundamental purpose: allowing users to record and ‘snaps’ that are only viewable for between one to 10 seconds, after which they are automatically deleted. The other key feature is Snapchat Stories: personal updates that are automatically deleted after 24 hours.
The focus here is not on watching content, its on creating and sharing content. And as the stuff you share will disappear, rather than being permanent, it frees us up to be spontaneous and share things. It's the opposite of the perfectly posed selfie.
Without any major competition, Snapchat has practically monopolised this idea of sharing disappearing snaps, helping explain why it currently has about 300 million monthly active users, making it the third most popular social media app, as reported here. However, Instagram (with 500 million monthly active accounts) has just launched ‘Instagram stories’, a copy of Snapchat’s ‘personal stories’. This is a possible threat to Snapchat's position, although Instagram has a very different feel to it. As one observer noted, "It seems too fake to me—almost every post I see there is the most glossy, least authentic, version of real life."
Finally, Snapchat has stuck with the little ghost symbol, making it one of the most recognisable social media apps.
2. What have they improved?
Snapchat’s success is also partly down to its constant technological improvements, keeping the basic functionality up to date with the never-ending progress of 21st century technology:
- "Snap streaks" count the consecutive days that people have been communicating with their friends, encouraging people to use it every day.
- Being able to upload photos from your camera roll, not just the images you take in the Snapchat app. This allows us to share more moments with their friends.
- Improved features on snaps, such as the introduction of emojis and extended text. See these in action below on Tibo, the Taylor family dog!
3. Adding new features
The key to Snapchat keeping its brand ‘fresh’ is to continually add new and exciting features, on top of the regular improvements detailed above. This means that users never get bored, no mean feat when you consider the short attention spans of Gen Z.
You can now do live streaming and calls, creating an even bigger platform of communication. Snapchat Discover allows you to keep in touch with current events and news coverage from within the app. Brands like Daily Mail Online and Sky Sports are charged a minimum of $100,000 a day to appear on the app, according to Adweek here.
But perhaps the most important new features are the ones that enhance what you can do with the photos on Snapchat. Face filters range from making yourself an adorable puppy to the hilarious face swap, where you can swap your face with someones else's!
So there you have it. Snapchat, so far, has managed to keep growing by sticking to what made it famous, whilst keeping the brand fresh and up to date. Time will tell if they keep this up and keep us interested!