Snapchat - once the go-to for funny images snapped throughout your day and a way to casually chat with friends, now a social media phenomenon that has run its course? The latest update, which slides in promotional snap stories with celebrities you don't follow and your own friends into a grid-like visual, is sending fans into a tailspin. Is it the final nail in the Snapchat coffin? Will the ghost logo become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Snapchat rose to the fore in 2011 and was gradually taken up by the youth, and then celebrities the world over. A fresh new social media app that allowed open conversation, acted as a barometer of friendship and relationships, and acted as a successful social network should do: the go-to source for all user-created content. Earlier features also allowed users to view content from around the world, with snapshots of life in other cities and countries. With more than 300 million monthly users and 178 million daily users, yet only 18% of social media users utilising the app, Snapchat still trails behind its contemporaries.
As with any smart marketer, the social media reach and power of voice was too good an opportunity to miss, and before long Snapchat was used by brands and 'influencers' to sell their wares and as another way to implement adverts into consumers' lives.
Another element of the marketer's Snapchat toolkit is the on-demand geo-filter. Personally, I have run a campaign that used the Snapchat geo-filter for business purposes before and found it relatively easy as a premise. What's more, it achieved the results we were looking for. Yet, aside from raising awareness, which was the goal, the filter does little else.
But, with Instagram utilising its own version of stories, which allows users to put up a temporary picture, and see who has viewed it, which can then be saved as a memory on your profile, what makes Snapchat unique? Alienating fans can be a risky strategy for a social media network. But, as with the New Coke PR strategy, they could always revert the changes back and have used the platform change as a bit of disruptive marketing to shock fans and users into using it again.
It won't be the first social media app to crash due to a change in its key functions. While stories weren't an initial factor of Snapchat, they have grown into one of its most important ones. This is reminiscent of Yik Yak, the app that allowed users to post anonymously and vote on the posts of others in the immediate area. A kind of anonymous Twitter, the app implemented a change that forced users to add a username, although it didn't have to be used. Taking away the crucial aspect of the app was its major downfall. The app didn't even have chance to be used in a clever way by savvy marketers to post humorous and 'up-worthy' comments about their products.
Perhaps Snapchat's temporary nature is its most important one. It came when social media marketing was being developed as a tool for marketers, and then will phase out once the well has run dry and users have grown tired of the changing interface, the loss of the top friends feature, and the overloading by brands of adverts and sponsored products. The question still stands though: can Snapchat come back from the brink?