As all social media agencies will know, throughout history there have been many hard-fought battles in this area of online, and plenty of resulting casualties. MySpace, Vine, even Twitter have all managed to come out on the bottom of their fight to make enough cash to fund their existence, the latter still being a firm favourite with people who want to find out what people are talking about, it’s importance to brands has nevertheless declined, along with its ‘essential’ status for general users.
Snapchat is at risk of going the same way, with the number of people actively using the network flatlining, and in some areas beginning to decline. One of the key reasons for this is Instagram, which delivered a sucker punch in the form of Stories, a direct copy of a Snapchat feature, but one presenting a better opportunity for businesses- exposure to everyone, regardless of whether they follow the account, at no extra marketing cost. In comparison, Snapchat’s version limits creators; they are only seen by those in their network.
This flipped the script on the fortunes of Snapchat and Instagram, the former having taking huge bites out of the second’s user base, for a while growing exponentially in terms of young people opening accounts. Instagram Stories levelled the offering of both because of how it facilitated discovery, meaning brands and influencers were quick to vote with their feet, attracted by the ability to see ‘vanity metrics’ on Instagram- likes, comments, follows- against Snapchat, which has never made these figures public, meaning it’s much harder to legitimately monetise efforts on the platform.
In recent weeks Snapchat has introduced another new feature, and from what experts are saying this could be make or break. Instagram is already boasting 40million more users of Stories than Snapchat, and Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has been trading at below the value of its initial IPO, which is never good for anyone.
What news from Snapchat?
Put simply, Snapchat’s new feature is called World Lenses, and here’s how it works:
It all looks rather fun, but that’s perhaps one of the problems. We reported recently about Facebook’s mission to make mobiles the watershed device for bringing Augmented Reality into the mainstream and the open source Camera Effects set up, and by all accounts that push could well be more impressive and immersive than this latest Snapchat development.
One of the main criticisms of Snapchat is its relative lack of real purpose, other than having a laugh with cartoon imagery and generally making pictures and videos look more appealing to those with a penchant for bright colours and silly effects. As per this article in PR Week, the industry has slammed the network for not managing to keep up with competitors, in the case of Instagram actually letting the rival beat it at its own game (Stories), whilst its advertising offering has proven to have a short shelf life as users quickly became more savvy to this comparatively basic commercial proposition.
Nevertheless, as with all new features, brands will likely be very active to begin with, trying to figure out how they could possibly exploit the functionality to their own ends, and we’re looking forward to hearing about efforts to make this work in a commercial way. Why not let us know on Twitter or Facebook of any you come across.
Looking for more advice on PR, social media, and marketing? Why not get in contact or submit a brief to inject a little ingeniousness into your brand.