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Although Snapchat is one of the most innovative social media platforms out there, it is certainly not the most profitable. The brand lost $1 billion alone last quarter, forcing marketers to question Snapchat’s future as an essential medium for advertising.
In spite of their recent struggles, the Snapchat team continues to deliver fun-filled features. Users love their wacky photo filters, for instance. Snap’s continued investment in Spectacles—sunglasses that provide a unique view of any shareable moment—may also stir up some brand love.
Is Snapchat in danger of shutting down in the foreseeable future, or is there light at the end of the tunnel? Here’s what top marketing experts had to say when we asked them, putting aside the fact that Snapchat lost $1B last quarter and has struggled to grow ad revenues, are there any reasons to be bullish about the platform’s survival?
Jennifer Forrest, Director of Social Media at DEG Digital: For users? Yes. Its core demographic, who originally adopted the platform, will remain true to Snapchat. For brands? That’s TBD. Snapchat’s strength for brands, and retailers, in particular, lies in its geofencing and location features. Snapchat started strong with brands because geo-filters helped connect them with their users, but Snapchat will need to continue evolving faster than Instagram, while still providing value to users and brands.
Joel Comm, Author, speaker, brand influencer: If Snapchat releases the second version of Spectacles that allows wearers to go LIVE from the glasses, the innovation could renew interest in their core demographic. They have positioned themselves as a camera company, so I am counting on new products that will focus on this.
Jason Falls, Founder of Conservation Research Institute: Not in my mind. I’m sure Snapchat will stick around and try to find more monetization strategies, but if you want to clutter a social network with marketing and advertising, Snapchat is an easy target. The attention span there is 10 seconds, right? When marketing starts taking a second or two of that way, users will grow wearier faster than they have on other networks. I wouldn’t invest in them until they can show consistent revenue growth for a year or more.
Josh Steimle, Influence coach, author, CEO of MWI marketing agency: Yes and no. They still have a lot of users and they’ve got cash in the bank (even if it’s disappearing rapidly). They have smart people on board. Can they survive and thrive? Yes. Will they? That’s harder to say. Their primary advantage from their founding was that Instagram missed the boat and took too long to add the features Snapchat pioneered, which gave Snapchat a window. What Snapchat offered wasn’t disruptive innovation, it was marginal innovation, which is why it was so easy for Instagram to say “Oh, me too!” and all of a sudden Snapchat’s advantage, at least technology-wise, was gone. It’s primary advantage now is its existing network, and whether the network effect will be enough to give it legs.
Although Snapchat keeps innovating cool new features, its revenue continues to dwindle. Only time will tell what’s in store for the platform, but Snapchat’s current state is lukewarm at best. But who knows? Maybe they’re just one hot feature away from making their grand revival. Until then, though, marketers should bide their time.