Snap Fights to Renew Its Dominance with Shopping and Rumored Event Capabilities
After seeing some of its best features catch fire on other platforms, Snap is fighting back with a few feature reimaginings of its own.
In the past several years, Snap has sunken in the rankings for popular social media apps as its competitors profit off facsimiles of its key features. But now, it’s fighting back by adding new features inspired by some of those rivals.
On the Way: Shops for Official Users
Like Instagram, Snapchat has had “swipe up” capabilities within Stories, to allow “official” (Snap vernacular for verified) users to link to stores or items for purchase, for some time. Now, also like Instagram, they’re partnering with Shopify to create in-app stores for some of these users. Early confirmed merchants include Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Spencer Pratt, and Bhad Babie, with more users set to debut in the coming months.
Although this might seem – and in some ways, likely is – a move to keep users engaged, there are additional benefits to this strategy for Snap as a company. By allowing some of its creators to sell on the platform with relative ease, they protect their exclusive rights to the ad revenue generated from these accounts. The only exception to the “shares of ad revenue” rules are store owners who also have shows on Snapchat’s Discover channel, like Jenner (of “Ask Kylie”) or Bhabie (of “Bringing Up Bhabie”).
Further, introducing this e-commerce model means users will stay in the app longer. Wallaroo Media’s Brandon Doyle praised this side effect of the new feature: “Any time you cut down on a click you increase conversion rates, and [you can] add that to the fact that these shops will fit the aesthetic of Snap.”
In Development: Snapchat Events
One of Facebook’s most popular features is its Events capability, allowing people to easily share event details and estimate attendance. Events is so popular, in fact, that it’s being used to prop up the less utilized Stories feature. If the investigations of Jane Manchun Wong are to be believed, Snapchat is looking to do something similar.
The beta version of Snapchat Events would allow users to create “invites” that would share details for a given event, and integrate with Snap Maps to easily share the location. Given the newness of the feature, it is unknown whether these events would only be visible to close friends, could be made public to all Snapchat users, or some combination of the two. But on a platform that still dominates largely for its ability to keep friends connected without the scrutinizing eye of more public apps, it makes sense to create a way to easily assemble your people.
Will Swiping Back Work?
In some circles, the introduction (or rumored introduction) of these features might seem a bit like stealing. But it’s important to remember here that Snapchat has been the victim of a few feature “thefts” in the past. Stories now dominate Facebook and Instagram because Snapchat popularized them first, and filters crept up on Instagram because of their high use on Snapchat first. These moves, as well as the introduction of original programming and gaming, are all being deployed with hopes of restoring the app to its onetime glory.
What’s clear is that the company is listening and observing better than ever before. After a gradual exodus from the platform, made worse by an ill-executed platform redesign, they’re taking note of what’s working in the marketplace…and seeking to make it their own. As the platform wars continue, it’ll be fascinating to see where Snap lands in the ranking of public opinion.
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