I’ve seen a lot of people complain on Linked In and such about Snapchat’s recent UX update, saying they sacrificed the user’s needs for the publishers/ advertisers. Many, many people my age don’t like the new update and have started using Snap Stories less or shifted platforms to Instagram altogether. And I agree, it is pretty bad.
Some people are pointing fingers at Snap and saying they are stupid and greedy. This must be proof that they are shortsighted, should have been bought by Facebook, and should not have gone public. I know others are taking a more measured approach.
First of all, why would a company that pushed away Facebook now be acting shortsighted in prioritizing publisher content (one answer is they’re burning through cash and are laying off a bunch of people…)? I tend to give people/ companies the benefit of the doubt. I think it’s usually better to err on the side of caution (overestimating someone/ thing than underestimating). With Snap, they’re making a bet on long-term growth with younger users.
Pre-update, it had become pretty clear that Snap’s barriers to entry were weaker than once thought, as switching costs + the strength of its network effects was weakened by Facebook/ Instagram’s access to a massive existing user base. Additionally, global expansion is more difficult for Snap – there are many copycats worldwide, and those platforms are more tailored to cultural specificities. Facebook doesn’t face this problem as much because the core actions of the platform are culturally general, while Snap’s core actions can be culturally specific. I haven’t looked at Snap’s DAU growth numbers since my buddy and I did a (bad) valuation for a project last spring, so take what I’m saying with a grain of speculative salt.
They know that they may lose some people my age (but not all), and they probably see that younger users have even stickier behavior (kids these days use Snapchat streaks as ways to signify friendships etc. It’s insane. If you end a streak with someone, it means they’re not your friend. Every kid has multiple ongoing streaks with friends). Nobody I know watches the Discover stuff, but I could see these kids getting into it. Also, the negative buzz over Facebook’s recent “Messenger Kids” may be an indication of difficulties Facebook could face in moving down into younger demographics, especially with all the Facebook hate these days.
This also reminds me of Facebook’s early days when they would make a Newsfeed/ Timeline change. Everyone would freak out but go right back to using it.
Anyways, maybe they are making a wrong move/ responding to some bumps in the road. But I do know it’s pretty safe to say that Evan Spiegel and Co. are not morons. Super interested in seeing what happens.