Column: Is Snapchat Going into Ghost Mode?

High school students may stop using the now-popular platform

I think Snapchat will soon be dead.

Snapchat, a social media app used to share photos, videos, text and drawings, was on the rise until the first quarter of 2018.  That’s when CEO Evan Spiegel adopted a new design for the popular platform and, Snapchat lost 2.8 percent of U.S. users. On paper, 2.8 percent isn’t a lot, but that’s a total of almost 3 million people. Investors became spooked and Snapchat’s stock plummeted to $10.58, a 30% drop by late December. Investors were skeptical that Snapchat would be able to improve its financial standing after such a rapid decline.

The app switched from a four-screen design consisting of the friend page, discover page, personal snap page and the camera to a three-screen design consisting of the discover page, camera and the friend page. So, what upset so many Snapchatters? The redesign separated celebrity stories from those of your friends and overall the app was much harder to use. After the redesign, Snapchat received a lot of backlash, not just from teens and regular users but from some celebrities. Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen notably spoke out, along with 1.2 million users who signed a petition to restore the original design. Spiegel eventually tweaked the new design to make it easier to use, but some still didn’t appreciate the change from the original.

Snapchat has competition in Instagram’s stories, which were introduced in August 2016. Instagram stories often feature far more aesthetically pleasing images and illustrations than Snapchat, which users tend to use more casually.

If Snapchat plans on regaining its user base, it should be more conscious of its users and their preferences.”

Instagram also has a greater range of features such as the ability to attach music, polls and quizzes to stories. They also have an alternative to the wildly popular YOLO question feature on Snapchat, which offers the same Q&A feature without the hassle of downloading a second app, but lacks anonymity.

The GIFs and stickers are exactly the same between Instagram and Snapchat, but Instagram’s drawing tool can be adjusted for preferred size and appearance. Instagram also has the priceless option of selecting a color from the story image to use in text and drawings overall, Instagram’s stories offer a highly competitive alternative to Snapchat and continues to grow in popularity as time goes on.

Snapchat is losing its market to other apps, too, both new and old. Facebook has had a steady growth of eight percent every year. On top of that, Tik Tok blew up with a total of 524 million users—almost twice the number of Snapchat users worldwide. Instagram has been a popular social media platform for years and it continues to rack up as much as 1 billion users.

“Increased competition from new and existing social platforms is partly to blame for Snapchat’s decline,” according to EMarketer senior analyst Jasmine Enberg. “Instagram will pick up many of those leaving Snapchat.”

If Snapchat plans on regaining its user base,  it should be more conscious of its users and their preferences. Future changes should be tested more extensively and the consumer needs should have been considered before dropping drastic changes on its app.

C’mon, Snapchat: pay attention!