1. Choose the date
2. Personal information
Your spot is reserved.
Please check your email for the webinar details.
If you’re looking to scale an app, you want to pay attention to the big players in the industry.
And one of the biggest, most important networks out there?
The then-tiny startup launched in September 2011. In a blazingly fast five-and-a-half years, Snap Inc. went public in March of 2017.
The initial public offering (IPO) valued the company at a staggering $28 billion, thrusting Snapchat into the big leagues with corporate giants like CBS and Target and transforming the cofounders into billionaires.
Any app developer would be envious of the success of Snapchat. So what’s the secret to its success? And what do the app’s revenue and user numbers look like now, a few years after the IPO?
We’ll dig into the nitty-gritty details about the app, its user base, and how well it’s performing.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid grasp of what’s working and what isn’t for the app once heralded as “the third force” against Google and Facebook.
Most importantly, you’ll have the information you need to extrapolate Snapchat’s success to your own launch strategy.
Let’s take a quick peek under the hood of the platform, then we’ll dig into the data.
Before we look at the statistics that paint the picture of how Snapchat is performing as a company, let’s look at how the app works.
Snapchat is a completely mobile app without a desktop version. It allows users to share photos and videos which famously expire immediately after being viewed.
(The ephemeral nature of the sharing is the reason behind Snapchat’s ghost icon and logo.)
With Snapchat, you can add a variety of lenses and filters to these images.
Filters add animations, colorization, or special effects to the photo. Lenses use facial recognition technology and virtual reality (VR) to create dynamic 3D overlays.
This photo or video is called a snap, and can be sent to one or more friends.
You can also collect a series of snaps together into a story, which can be viewed an unlimited amount of times (but expires in 24 hours).
When it comes to advertising on Snapchat, there are a few options. One is simply to create and promote branded snaps.
A more unique feature Snapchat offers to advertisers is the ability to create custom lenses. These are often branded as characters from a TV show, movie, or video game release.
With that in mind, let’s look at how Snapchat compares to other social platforms.
When ranked alongside other social networks in the US by monthly users 18 years or older,
Its monthly users over 18 hovers around 50 million, which pales in comparison to Facebook’s 160+ million or Instagram’s 110+ million.
(It’s worth mentioning that the three top social networks—Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger—are all owned by Facebook, Inc.)
The one area where Snapchat has an advantage, though, is with younger people—especially teens.
When respondents are of any age (not just over 18 years old), the figures change.
Snapchat jumps to third place, with 30.2% of all internet users on Snapchat at least once per month.
(This survey did not include Facebook Messenger, which if included might push Snapchat to fourth place in total users.)
These two basic trends—that Snapchat is far behind Facebook and Instagram, and that a significant portion of their users are teenagers—will appear again and again here.
Speaking of teenagers, let’s look carefully at exactly who is using Snapchat.
Currently, about one-fourth of the US population uses Snapchat. That number is steadily increasing, from 79 million 2017, to 85 million in 2018, to a projected 90 million in 2019.
This represents a year-over-year growth of 7.07% and 6.6%, respectively.
But without any context, that figure probably doesn’t mean much. So let’s compare it to other social platforms.
First up is its closest competitor, and the other photo-sharing platform to which Snapchat is frequently compared: Instagram.
Around one-third of people in the US use Instagram, with a little under 105 million users on the platform.
That puts Snapchat slightly below Instagram in terms of usage.
But Snapchat certainly isn’t at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to social networks. Twitter lags seriously behind, with just under 17% of the US population logging in monthly.
Again, these are including users of any age, which is why Twitter takes a plunge down from the 18+ statistics referenced earlier.
Perhaps more worrying for Twitter is growth, which has nearly flatlined for the platform.
While Instagram is seeing double-digit growth, and Snapchat a steady 6-7% growth rate, Twitter wasn’t even able to break 1% in 2018.
For perspective, let’s wrap up our comparison with the giant in terms of social networks: Facebook.
Over half of the US population is on Facebook, with around 170 million users. Like Twitter, growth has mostly flatlined for the behemoth, sitting at around 1% year-over-year.
However, the lagging growth isn’t much of a problem for Facebook at its current size of more than 3x that of Twitter.
It would seem that most of the social media platforms are established in their current rankings—Facebook, then Instagram, then Snapchat when considering users of all ages.
But one opportunity that could hold true for Snapchat is its youthful user base. As we’ll see in the next section, Snapchat is attracting the youngest social media users.
If the trend continues, Snapchat will have an advantage over Facebook, which is failing to gain ground in the very demographic Snapchat dominates.
Previously, we’ve looked at active monthly users in the US.
Based on that metric alone, Snapchat lags behind but still seems to be holding its own against Facebook with approximately one-half of its user base.
But when we look at global daily active users (DAU), those numbers look very different indeed.
Based on the most recent data from the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, Snapchat has 186 million daily active users—a mere 12% of Facebook’s incredible 1.52 billion.
However, Snapchat still remains above Twitter. (Instagram was not included in this data.)
Perhaps the more frustrating data point for Snapchat, however, is that their DAU numbers simply refuse to budge.
While they’ve seen roughly 7% growth in monthly users, daily active user growth has stagnated or even shrunk quarter-by-quarter for the last year.
Since its DAU peak of 191 million in Q1 2018, Snapchat has dropped down to what appears to be a steady 186 million, based on Q4 data released in February 2019.
The implications of this stagnation are startlingly obvious, and the slowed growth has not gone unnoticed.
Statista, the company which published the data previously mentioned, asked the question on everyone’s mind at the end of October 2018—has Snapchat peaked too early?
This chart provided some more in-depth data, which showed that not only were daily active users slowly decreasing, the trend was happening in North America, Europe, and the rest of the world.
In other words, growth in a particular region wasn’t being masked by a decline in other regions. There was an overall slowdown worldwide.
And this isn’t a phenomenon happening to every social network.
Facebook, for example, has seen quarter-over-quarter growth in daily active users since 2011, most recently in the Asia-Pacific region.
While it’s impossible to predict the future, the current status of Snapchat’s daily active user growth would seem to agree that, yes, the platform has peaked already.
The area where Snapchat really stands apart from its competitors is in its demographics.
First off, the majority of the platform’s users are female, sitting around 60%.
But where things get really interesting is when you look at Snapchat users by age. The dominant age group is 18-29, with 72% of US internet users over 18 on the platform.
While this is impressive, the numbers become even more surprising when you expand that age range to under 18 and break it down into more specific categories.
In short? Snapchat dominates younger age groups.
Of social media users in each demographic group, over one-fourth of those aged 0-11 are on the app, while a staggering nine out of ten 12- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat.
Also of note in this statistic is that while there’s a 2:3 ratio of males to females on the platform, the percentage of mobile-phone-using men and women is a closer margin.
In other words, among mobile phone users of all ages (as opposed to those 13 or older), there are more females than males.
To understand the significance of this incredible youth-skewed graph, take a look at a similar data set from Instagram with a more typical bell curve hovering around 25-34-year-olds.
With those statistics in mind, the next revelation will hardly come as a surprise: more teens use Snapchat than any other social network.
As mentioned earlier, this could be a tremendous strength for Snapchat, presuming it’s able to keep these young users around as they age and this trend continues.
As Facebook loses dominance among teen users, this could allow Snapchat to tap into a new stream of users over the next decade or so who are becoming less engaged on Facebook.
But its strength is also its weakness. Snapchat is missing out on more affluent age groups, including Baby Boomers, the most valuable generation in history.
According to US News and World Report in 2015, Baby Boomers control a massive 70% of the disposable income in the United States.
Baby Boomers—between the ages of 55 and 73 as of 2019—are very active on social media. As of 2018, 65% of Baby Boomers are on Facebook, and only 10% are on Snapchat.
That equates to slightly fewer than 4 million users on Snapchat, placing it below nearly every other major social network.
Snapchat’s focus on a demographic with limited buying power is risky, but only time will tell whether the bet pays off or ends up hurting Snap Inc. in the long-term.
Snapchat’s primary user base is in North America (including Mexico and the Caribbean), followed by Europe, then the rest of the world.
While growth has slowed in recent quarters, the general trend since 2016 has been increased growth in Europe, surpassing that of North America and worldwide averages.
This indicates that while daily active users may be a stagnant number, Snapchat’s best option for growth could be in Europe.
When you examine comparisons between Snapchat and other social networks in European countries, this trend holds true.
For example, Snapchat is the dominant network in the UK, surpassing both Facebook and Instagram amongst mobile users in the 18-24 age bracket.
Europe could be the biggest opportunity for Snapchat to revive its user base. The biggest barrier up to this point was the quality of its Android app.
In Europe, Android has 71% of the mobile operating system market share, a statistic similar to Android’s dominance globally.
That’s a problem because Snapchat’s Android app has been plagued with bugs and slow performance as the company prioritized iOS development.
The lack of a quality Android app has been widely criticized, and some blame it for the problem of bleeding users over the previous quarters.
However, the team released details on its progress with the Android app in February 2019, sparking positive interest and an uptick in Snap’s stock price.
Up next, let’s look at how users are interacting with the Snapchat app.
What features are most popular, which are expected to rise, and how can Snapchat set itself up for success in the future?
While Snapchat has created a lot of new features with their app, they’re struggling to differentiate themselves against competitors producing carbon copies of these innovations.
Let’s start with snaps, the individual photo or video messages users send to each other.
As of June 2018, there were slightly over 2 million snaps sent every minute on the platform.
That’s less than Google searches per minute (3.78 million) but far more than tweets every minute (473K) or photos uploaded to Instagram every minute (49K).
The most recent data available—from Q2 2018—indicates that users send 3 billion snaps every day and average around 30 minutes on the app each day.
While those numbers are impressive to be sure, they don’t indicate growth. In Q3 2017, users were sending 3.5 billion snaps per day, indicating a 14% decrease.
It seems to indicate that Snapchat’s engagement is closely linked to the number of daily active users, which slowed around the same time.
This isn’t a problem per se, but could indicate Snapchat isn’t able to increase activity of users very well and instead must rely on more users to boost engagement statistics.
An important feature of Snapchat snaps are lenses, the 3D overlays applied in VR. According to Snapchat’s Q4 2018 earning report, released in February 2019, these are wildly popular features.
Every day, an average of 70% of users played with or viewed a lens. This was particularly notable on New Year’s Eve 2018, with 700 million views—a 40% increase from 2017.
Another measure of engagement is Snapchat’s Lens Studio, which allows users or developers to create their own VR lenses.
According to the earnings report, over 300,000 lenses had been created in 2018, and those lenses were viewed more than 35 billion times.
When it comes to competition, Snapchat is struggling to differentiate themselves.
Both Instagram and Facebook now have video capabilities and include filters and lenses just like Snapchat.
A story is a collection of snaps with unlimited viewing for 24 hours. It was one of the primary features of Snapchat when first launched and distinguished it from social media competitors.
But in 2016, there was a game-changing shift in the concept of Snapchat’s stories: Instagram copied the feature nearly exactly and added it to their platform.
In what has been considered a “particularly blatant” rip-off, the platform turned Snapchat Stories into Instagram Stories.
The impact for Snapchat was immediate—in less than a year, users posted more Instagram stories than Snapchat had active daily users.
Today, Snapchat is overwhelmingly eclipsed by these other platforms offering features similar to their original story concept.
What started off as a creative and unique idea has not been a strength for Snapchat, with competitors quickly snapping up and incorporating the feature on their own platforms.
In short, Stories has faced many of the same challenges as video messages, lenses, and filters.
Concepts Snapchat invented or popularized were poached by bigger platforms, reducing Snapchat’s overall uniqueness and impact.
While most consider Snapchat primarily a messaging app, there’s potential for Snapchat to grow its presence in the video streaming space.
Let’s start with some general statistics.
First off, digital video usage is in wide use and continues to expand year-over-year.
While this is typically associated with streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, the convergence of social media and digital content delivery is coming quickly.
Facebook launched its Watch platform in August of 2017, showing TV shows and streaming content, and other networks are likely to follow this trend.
One of the biggest reasons is that users have expressed interest in watching TV shows on social media.
An incredible 47% of 18-24-year-olds say they’d watch their favorite shows on social media if they were available, indicating huge market potential in Snapchat’s demographic.
But this trend isn’t just hype about what might happen in the future. Streaming video has already come to the platform in a big way.
Based on the 2018 Q4 earnings report, streaming is already playing a major role in Snapchat’s engagement statistics.
Users watching Publisher Stories and Shows every day increased by 30% in 2018 compared to 2017, and the daily quantity has increased as well.
In 2017, ESPN launched a version of SportsCenter exclusively for Snapchat, and that show has taken off in 2018.
According to the Q4 earnings report, 60% of the ESPN audience tuned in three or more times per week.
Snapchat also launched “Dead Girls Detective Agency,” an original show in collaboration with NBCUniversal that reached over 14 million Snapchat users.
An incredible 40% of users who watched the first episode went on to finish the entire season.
Though in a much smaller way, it’s even edging into territory previously dominated by YouTube.
In January 2019, 18% of respondents said they’d prefer to watch 2019 Super Bowl ads on Snapchat before the game.
In short, Snapchat is developing a powerful digital video streaming platform.
While it’s in the early stages of growth, current statistics show massive influence already, with huge potential and room for expansion in the coming years.
When it comes to time spent on the app, Snapchat is holding it own against its biggest competitors in the social media space.
Back in June of 2017, US users spent on average 25.2 minutes on the app each day. A year later in June 2018, that figure had nearly doubled to over 49 minutes.
In addition to indicating significant growth, this places Snapchat surprisingly close to Facebook and Instagram, which boast 58.5 and 53.2 daily minutes, respectively.
This is compounded by the fact that these figures are from Android alone, a platform where Snapchat has historically struggled to gain ground as previously noted.
The trends are positive as well based on user perception, especially when it comes to Generation Z (roughly ages 10-25 in 2019).
In research conducted in 2018, over half of Gen Zers said they used Snapchat more than in the past year, while 40% of Millennials agreed.
The statistics point to a fairly clear conclusion. Snapchat has a stagnating user base that refuses to grow year-after-year, and user-generated content has followed the same trend.
Yet while users aren’t sending more snaps, they’re spending approximately twice as much time on the app than in the previous year.
That staggering increase can only be attributed to one change in Snapchat’s strategy—a deliberate and explosive growth in third-party digital video and streaming content.
We’ve taken a deep dive into Snapchat’s usage and engagement statistics.
The answers are clear—Snapchat’s user base is dominated by teenagers with limited buying power, their daily active users hasn’t increased in a year, and those users aren’t producing more content.
Yet as we look at Snapchat’s revenue figures, there’s an entirely different story. The platform has been incredibly effective at increasing monetization of its users.
According to its Q4 2018 earnings release, quarterly revenues hit a record-breaking $390 million, an increase of 36%.
Its losses likewise shrunk, hitting $192 million in Q4 2018—a 45% decrease from $350 million a year earlier in Q4 2017.
When examining Snap’s global revenue over the past four years, it’s an overall positive graph.
With the exception of annual Q4 spikes around the holiday season, revenue is steadily ticking upwards each year.
Much of this money, of course, is coming from advertising dollars.
Overall, Snapchat’s US ad revenue is projected to see continued growth for the coming years, though its percentage of total digital ad spend remains under 1%.
Compared to similar figures at Facebook, Snapchat is showing strong growth but an incredibly small total revenue amount.
While the United States still dominates Snapchat’s ad revenues, non-US growth is projected to make up a larger and larger piece of Snapchat’s ad revenue streams.
Non-US ad revenues have seen double-digit percentage growth since 2016 and is projected to hit 40% by 2019.
Turning once again to Snapchat’s biggest strength, it’s little wonder that much of this ad revenue is coming from video ads.
While Snapchat’s revenue pales in comparison to Facebook, it’s projected to sit incredibly close to Twitter by 2020.
Yet while ad revenue appears to be on the rise for the platform, it still remains an outlier in terms of usage by US marketers.
Less than one-third of US marketers use Snapchat, with a slight increase from 25% to 28% from 2017 to 2018.
But that’s nothing compared to other sites like Instagram, with 69% of marketers using the platform in 2018, an increase of over 10% from 2017.
And of course, it’s nowhere close to Facebook’s advertising dominance, with 86% of marketers reporting they use the platform.
When it comes to agency executives instead of general marketers, they’re slightly more present on Snapchat at 36%.
Yet the data seems to show this demographic is simply more involved on social media in general, with Snapchat sitting at a dismal seventh place when compared to other platforms.
It rests a full seven percentage points behind Google Plus, a platform so unpopular it will be shut down in 2019 due to lack of interest.
Overall, Snapchat is seeing growth in advertising revenue, but likely won’t be a major player in the digital ad industry anytime soon.
One of the most impressive feats Snapchat has managed to accomplish in the previous four years has been its massive increase in revenue per user.
Revenue per user has been increasing every quarter since 2016, when accounting for boosts during the holiday season (Q4) each year.
The increase has been significant, as well, seeing a 553% increase over the previous four years.
While this is an impressive figure, it’s worth noting that it pales in comparison to Facebook.
For perspective, Facebook’s revenue per user in Q3 2018 was $27.51 in the US and Canada and $6.09 worldwide.
Snapchat’s numbers are much lower across the board, but they’re also seeing lagging figures in Europe.
As of Q4 2018, price per user was at $3.38 in North America, $1.04 in Europe, and $1.24 in the rest of the world.
Snapchat has had a surprisingly low impact in Europe, which goes against the trends most social networks are seeing with higher returns in Europe than other regions outside the US.
One possible reason for low monetization is the slow development of the Android app as previously mentioned. Of mobile phone users in Spain, for example, only 19.1% use Snapchat.
Despite strong revenue figures for the previous years, Snap Inc.’s stock (SNAP) has only fallen since its IPO in March 2017.
As of February 2019, SNAP was valued around $8.50, less than one-third of its peak value of $27.09.
As the value of its stock has plummeted, Snap Inc.’s market cap has followed a similar trajectory, hitting just above $11 billion after a peak valuation of over $30 billion near the time of its IPO.
It’s hard to find an upside to Snap Inc.’s stock price. All signs seem to indicate that, short of a miracle, the market value will struggle to ever rekindle its previous appeal on Wall Street.
Based on the data we’ve looked at so far, what can we reasonably predict for Snapchat in 2019 and beyond?
The data seems to indicate a few key factors in Snapchat’s growth to come.
As we’ve seen again and again, Snapchat is the primary network of young users aged 0-24. But perhaps more importantly, this remains the preferred favorite network as well.
Giants like Facebook and Twitter are losing out with single-digit percentages among US teens.
Meanwhile, Snapchat remains the favorite network of 45%, keeping Instagram at a distant second with 26% of teens preferring it.
This continued “cool factor” for the network is likely its biggest strength and the one area where Snapchat beats every other social platform.
Snapchat seems to be content with this demographic and will likely remain the social app of choice for Generation Z for at least the next 12-24 months, if not longer.
While Snapchat may be the network teens say they prefer the most, the reality is that it’s not the only app on the phones of Snapchat’s demographic.
Instagram—while perhaps lacking the excitement Snapchat seems to have cornered—still poses a serious threat.
As we’ve seen multiple times, the daily active user base for Snapchat has hovered around 186 million for the last few quarters. Meanwhile, Instagram is growing faster each quarter.
If Snapchat doesn’t turn around the lack of user growth, it will quickly lose its lead against other social networks in popularity with teens.
While Snapchat has been a predominantly US app, its user base from other countries is increasing.
Based on current projections, over one-third of Snapchat’s 2019 growth will come from outside the US.
While this is probably poor news for the platform due to its low revenue per user outside of the US, it’s likely the only savior in Snapchat’s continual saga of flatline user growth.
Daily active users haven’t changed, but monthly users are expected to increase by 11% in 2019. However, that growth rate is projected to slow over the next few years.
The growth in international markets might be the only strategy for Snapchat to maintain market presence.
The thread woven throughout Snapchat’s revenue and usage statistics is simple: Snapchat is constantly competing against much larger platforms unafraid to copy its best features.
This competition is not likely to change anytime soon, and it’s likely a good idea for Snapchat to focus on areas where it can stand out.
First, as previously mentioned, Snapchat has the “cool factor” amongst teens that other networks can’t seem to achieve.
Second, third-party video and Snapchat Original Shows could be an area to help the platform stand out.
And finally, there’s another secret Snapchat has hiding up their sleeve: user trust.
Based on a 2018 survey, it’s the highest-ranked social media platform with user trust based on data security.
Whether Snapchat will stand out from Facebook and Instagram is an open question, but the research indicates that competition will only get stiffer in the coming months and years.
Let’s wrap up by quickly comparing Snapchat with its biggest current competitor, Instagram.
As far as good news for Snapchat, Instagram is expected to see slower growth in the upcoming years.
This could indicate that Snapchat’s difficulty in acquiring new daily active users isn’t unique, but rather a larger trend in the social media arena.
However, the news isn’t entirely good. Even if all user acquisition stopped, Instagram would still end up far ahead.
Just the Instagram Stories feature has more than double the daily active users than the entire Snapchat app.
Perhaps even more concerning is that Instagram continues to see fast growth, while Snapchat seems to have hit a plateau.
When viewed side-by-side, Instagram has a clear lead over Snapchat that will be hard to overcome.
When Snapchat was first released, it came with a host of new features that changed social media as we know it.
Stories, filters, disappearing status updates—they began as the brainchildren of what would become the favorite social media app of teens around the world.
But those features have a problem. You can’t copyright them or claim exclusive use.
And as Snapchat has grown, its main competitors, Instagram and Facebook, have stolen much of its market share with the very inventions that let Snapchat stand out in the first place.
In the past few years since its IPO, Snapchat has faced a serious challenge to set itself apart from bigger players.
To its advantage, Snapchat has a devoted fan base of young users, the potential for a growing presence in international markets, and solid revenue figures.
But without the market dominance that platforms like Facebook and Instagram already have, Snapchat is struggling to succeed on the stage of global social networks.
Of course, the next steps for the company are anyone’s guess.
But based on their previous and current strategies, it looks like Snapchat will continue to live in the shadows of other networks.