After a disappointing 2017, Snapchat is no closer to making an impact on today’s social landscape.
The platform has come under fire from investors for its snail-paced user growth [178 million users] and lack of innovation.
And while Snapchat is attracting brands with new advertising tools, doubt still remains as to whether Snap’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, can compete with Facebook’s advanced ad model and Instagram’s growing 800 million following.
Still, a new year means a fresh start for all, including social media platforms. With that, here are our predictions for 2018.
1. Snapchat as we know it will be unrecognisable in 2018
In what will either be Snapchat’s life vest or the final nail in its coffin, Snap Inc CEO Evan Spiegel has announced plans for a complete overhaul of the app to appeal to a wider audience.
But is a redesign enough to save the platform? Unlikely – it’s not looks but what’s on the inside that counts, and Snapchat’s problems run much deeper than their interface, which most already consider to be too complicated.
According to research from Piper Jaffray, 47% of US teens consider Snapchat their most important social network. And we’ve already said if anyone can save Snapchat, it’s Gen Z – but as Snap Inc looks to target a wider age demographic amid extreme changes to its app, it runs the risk of alienating its core audience.
2. A new USP will be born
From the beginning, Snapchat’s USP has been disappearing (ephemeral) video content as a means of communication. However, an aggressive campaign of cloning from Facebook has seen a once unique feature become more commonplace.
In order for Snapchat to save itself in 2018, it desperately needs a new USP. Ever since Snap Inc officially positioned itself as a camera company, we’ve been waiting for Snapchat’s camera function to become a main attraction.
But while Instagram has given us integrated Boomerang, Superzoom and an incoming stop-motion feature, Snapchat has once again been beaten to the punch.
Spectacles are also seemingly at a dead end. Despite surpassing sales goals of 100,000 pairs and selling over 150,000 in 2017, the results are hardly game-changing. It doesn’t do much to inspire in a world where Facebook and Google are lightyears ahead in breakthrough technology.
3. We’ll see a push in AR advertising
The much bigger budgets and meatier user bases of these competitors remain a serious threat – but if Snap Inc fails to make waves in the real world, perhaps it’ll have more luck in a virtual one.
Snapchat’s best bet will be to offer interactive advertising to drive their AR and VR offering. What started with taco lenses and dancing hot dogs can go a step further; we’ve already seen a hint of what they can do with 3D World Lenses.
Snapchat’s recent partnership with Netflix to promote cult series Stranger Things opened the door for a new kind of advertising. A 3D World Lense enabled users to take a virtual tour of character Joyce Byers’ living room, interact with familiar elements from the show, and even venture into the Upside Down.
Whilst it proved popular with fans, the experience was rendered pointless after a few minutes of exploring. If it’s going to pioneer this technology, Snap will have to introduce a new hook to the feature to avoid a ‘burn bright, fade fast’ fate.
If Snap can also effectively monetise the offer, they might just break new ground and find themselves with a shiny new USP. But, as always, it comes down to who gets there first.
4. Stories will be served with a side of personalisation
Spiegel has also hinted towards a new algorithm which will aim to serve personalised content to the user based on what they’ve already watched from friends and brands.
An in-depth, personalised marketing offer could set up Snap for a much needed increase in ad revenue, but we’re getting deja vu – yet again Snapchat is miles behind its competitors, who have already written the book on data-driven algorithms.
That being said, consumers aren’t always convinced when it comes to personalisation; Worldplay reports that 56% of people want brands to do more with their data, yet 65% remain ‘selective’ about who they want to share it with. There’s a fine line between constructive and creepy.
5. Snap will either bounce back, or reach the point of no return.
It’s all well and good hashing out the possibilities of what lies ahead for the platform, but essentially it will be down to good timing, smart investment, and a willingness to listen to its user base.
Predictions for Snapchat in 2017 painted an all too optimistic picture of innovation, a boom in social commerce, and a lifestyle offering complete with a range of camera-based consumer products. A year later and reality tells a different story.
This year will be make or break; as Facebook continues to innovate at an alarming pace, Snap Inc can’t afford to get even more behind or, like the video feature that made it, Snapchat might just disappear.