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On a post in Medium that ended up with 1.6k likes, freelance writer Owen Williams penned an ostensibly convincing argument for why Snapchat is destined to die out. It felt odd reading an obituary-like article for the imminent death of an app just valued over $28 billion that boasts the highest engagement rates out of all the social media networks.
Here are his main assertions:
I can’t think of one reason to support this claim.
Well done, Insta, you copied Snapchat's story feature, but it is by no means an improved version. To the contrary, one aspect of Instagram that Williams claimed gives it an advantage over Snap - the ease and casual nature of adding people to your network - means most users follow several hundred people. As a result, finding Stories of people you are actually interested in is a tedious and time consuming task, worsened by the horizontal view of stories, which means you can view only four users at a time.
Additionally, Snapchat is by its own definition a camera app. When you open the app, your phone immediately turns into a camera, ready to photograph you or your surroundings. When you open Instagram, you see your feed and the natural reaction is to scroll through it. Instagram acts primarily like a photo blog, whereas Snapchat is primarily a photo-sending app.
Thus, Instagram can’t possibly “do Snapchat better”, it is a fundamentally different app, and anyone who suggests this misses the point of Snapchat.
Williams suggests Snapchat will lose its appeal now Instagram has taken its Stories feature. But there is so much more to Snapchat than this: Discover, Geo-filters, Lenses, crowd-sourced content and broadcasting of TV programmes. Not to mention the future innovations and risk-taking as stated in Snap’s IPO filing.
Moreover, the first to market concept is important to remember here. This is an obvious competitive advantage for Snapchat - they have established a strong brand recognition and customer loyalty for their concept of ephemeral messaging and stories. A whole generation has grown up using Snapchat as the main way to communicate with friends, which is part of the huge shift towards photo and video consumption.
This will remain regardless of Instagram's attempts to copy & paste its winning features, and will continue to attract new users in the future despite the competition. What's more, Gen Z, the most engaged Snapchat audience, are no fools - they know Instagram is desperately and aggressively copying Snapchat and this affects how they view it as a brand.
Snap’s brand personality will only strengthen these advantages and help it remain a force in the face of competition from Instagram. Ask a teenager to describe Snapchat in three words, they will reply along the lines of 'exciting, silly, young'.
It will, simply speaking, remain the go-to app for Gen Z to capture moments, be immature, and share their day-to-day lives.
You mad bruh?
Advertisements And Shitty Click Bait Are Ruining The Snapchat User Experience
This is not true.
Ads appear occasionally as you go from story to story and the user can skip them with a tap of the finger before even blinking an eye.
Ads regularly appear when scrolling down one’s Instagram feed, so I’m not sure how this can be used as a stick to beat Snap with.
In fact, one thing Snapchat has over its competitors is its aversion to data-driven, highly personalised adverts – the creepy ones that show a product you searched for the day before.
As Evan Spiegel said in 2015: “We care about not being creepy. That’s something really important to us”.
As for shitty click bait, perhaps Williams does not like the Daily Mail. Fair enough. But most of the content in Discover is engaging, interactive and well made, from Vice to National Geographic to Bleacher Report.
Only time will tell how Snapchat will evolve in the coming years, and the competition from Instagram certainly adds pressure on them to innovate. One thing I can say with certainty, however, is that the death of Snapchat needn’t be discussed again for a very long time.