Last week, Snapchat announced it was laying off 22 employees, including roles in the company’s content team. The latest round of staff reductions points to Snap’s ongoing struggles to grow and monetize its audience. While Snapchat launched a high-profile original content initiative last fall – including shows from NBC, E! Networks, and Vice Media – the results are mixed at best, with networks like CNN already cancelling their programming due to lack of revenue options. And in the face of increasingly stiff competition from the likes of Netflix, HBO, and social media rivals like Facebook Watch and Instagram, it’s still unclear if Snapchat’s latest content gambit is gaining any traction with users (or advertising revenue, for that matter). To make matters worse, Snapchat’s latest redesign has received withering user reviews and seems poised to further reduce user engagement.
Who’s Watching Snapchat?
Verto Analytics took a look at Snapchat’s existing user base and the amount of time they spend in the app per month. For this Chart of the Week, we focused just on users of Snapchat’s app among U.S. adults (ages 18 and above), and compared these numbers to Instagram’s app, often cited as Snapchat’s number-one competitor.
Based on Verto Watch data, Snapchat lags significantly in user numbers: in December 2017, it reported 50 million monthly users, compared to 65 million for Instagram. However, the amount of time that users spend in each app gives a distinct advantage to Snapchat: its users spent nearly 4.5 hours per month using the Snapchat app, compared to 3.5 hours per month among Instagram users. And living up to its reputation as a Millennial honeypot, Snapchat’s user base skews young: a third of its user base is aged 18-24 (an index of 289 against the general U.S. adult population), and nearly two thirds (64%) of its user base is below the age of 35. In comparison, only 18% of Instagram’s user base is between the ages of 18-24 (an index of 163 against the general U.S. adult population), while more than a third of its user base is over the age of 45.
So while Snapchat users are certainly spending more time consuming or producing content than their Instagram peers, it’s unclear if they’re interacting with brands and their content – or just focusing on their private Snaps with friends. For brands aiming to reach younger consumers, Snapchat clearly delivers on demographics. But can it serve up a captive and engaged audience?