How Snapchat User Growth Skyrocketed and What You Can Learn From Their User Growth

Snapchat case study
tiffany-palmer@2x By Tiffany Palmer September 2nd 2020

Many critics said it was finished and would never recover, yet recent Snapchat user growth has shown the app isn’t going anywhere. 

Even after competitors like Facebook adopted many of its unique features and newer platforms started enticing Snapchat users away, a lot can still be learned from the company’s impressive growth so far this year. 

Snapchat understood its audience from the very beginning and designed an app that delivered exactly what users wanted. This was the secret to their success. 

Read the rest of this article to learn more about Snapchat’s growth and how that knowledge can be applied to the development of your app.

We will discuss what happened with Snapchat this year, the app’s history, why young people love it so much, how Snapchat influenced other apps, and key statistics. 

Snapchat User Growth Continues to Impress

With so much competition in the social media world from platforms like Instagram and newcomers like Tik Tok, no one expected Snapchat to sustain the epic growth it’s experienced over the last few years.

In April, Snap (the parent company of Snapchat, Spectacles, and Bitmoji) announced that its stock was up 7.2% since the last earnings report. This was after they reported an initial loss in the first quarter of 2020. 

Snap revenues increased by 44% from the same time last year. They earned a total of $462.5 million (it’s important to note most of their business is done in North America). 

What caused this growth? Analysts said it resulted from more people turning to Snapchat during the global pandemic. Areas more affected by lockdowns experienced more than a 50% increase in usage. 

More people also downloaded Snap Camera during the quarantine. This is the company’s free desktop application for live streaming. It includes many of the same features as the app.  

The number of Snapchat daily active users surged by 8 million people in North America and 9 million in Europe. Billions of snaps are created daily and this helped drive up engagement and revenue. 

While Snapchat is experiencing growth across the board, there’s always a new platform on the horizon.

Tik Tok, a fast-growing Chinese company, is now targeting the same demographics as Snapchat with funny video uploads lasting 15 seconds or less. 

You may have heard about it in the news last year when Hong Kong protestors using Tik Tok claimed the Chinese government was censoring content. Fear of foreign intervention also led the U.S. military to ban this app. 

No one has a crystal ball, but many experts believe Tik Tok has the capability of dethroning Snapchat. Yet, this remains to be seen. 

A Brief History of Snapchat

Originally known as “Picaboo,” Snapchat was founded in 2011 by three students from Stanford University. Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy teamed up to create an app where the content would disappear after a few seconds. 

Snapchat added 10-second videos about one year after originally launching the app, helping to expand its daily snaps to 50 million. 

While this was only eight years ago, social media video was still growing to what it is today.  

Snapchat’s unique “Story” and “Chat” functions revolutionized the way people communicated on social media. The company first released them in 2013 and the next year they announced customizable Geofilters.

They made two additional changes in 2014: the introduction of Snapcash and Community Geofilters.

Not catching on quite as expected, Snapcash was shut down in 2018. It couldn’t compete with Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, or Square Cash, and the company learned that most people were using it to pay for adult content. 

The Community Geofilters, which can be used at local parks, neighborhoods or landmarks, continue to be popular today. They are especially popular at festivals and events.

Snapchat’s biggest revenue boost over the years came from the addition of platform advertising in 2015. The company stated in 2018 that 99% of its total revenue came from ads. That figure is the same today. 

Every new company experiences its ups and downs. In the middle of their meteoric rise, Snapchat had to deal with a 2013 hacking incident leading to the release of personal information belonging to 4.6 million users. 

They also became entrenched in lawsuits with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FCC) regarding user privacy and with a former employee who claimed Snapchat didn’t want to expand its service into poorer countries. 

What Makes Snapchat Desirable to Younger People?

You’re probably wondering why young Millennials and Gen Z social media users are so obsessed with Snapchat? Let’s dive into the reasons why Snapchat is desirable to so many of them. 

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are skewing older. For years, Snapchat has been touted as the best app for marketers to reach young people and that’s still true today.  

We aren’t lying when we say all young people are on Snapchat.

Data shows 94% of social media users ages 18-24 are on it, more than those aged 12-17 (92%). These penetration rates are only from the United States but young people all over the world are using the app. 

Snapchat demographics are similar to Instagram, but what makes their app unique is that their content disappears. Most young people like the idea of not having old snaps come back to haunt them. 

study from Cornell University focused on this notion of “ephemerality,” where the content only lasts briefly. They wanted to see what effect this had on users. 

The Snapchat environment was preferred by students because it allowed them to narrow their audience to a close group of friends. The effect of this, according to researchers, was that users were more likely to post silly and unfiltered content.  

For once they could be themselves on social media.

They didn’t have to curate the best content to share permanently on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Instead, the Snapchat experience was informal and intimate. 

Snapchat capitalized on this trend by regularly updating fun filters and features that allow users to live in the moment rather than taking hours to touch up their photographs as some users do on Instagram. 

Young people on Snapchat use it to communicate with their closest friends or romantic interests. 

How Snapchat Influenced the Social Media Landscape

Whether you’re a fan or Snapchat or not, you can’t deny that it’s made a big impact on how social media apps are developed. There’s no doubt their success has influenced how other people brainstorm new app ideas

Snapchat has liberated many users from the permanency of emails, text messages, comments, or even tweets.

While social media was originally developed to keep us all connected, many people are tired of worrying about what others think about their posts. 

Psychologists have observed increased levels of anxiety and depression from people on social media, much of it resulting from comparing themselves to others or stressing out about what they posted. 

For some social media users, the privacy that Snapchat provides is a solution to this problem.

Competitors like Facebook spotted this trend as well. CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion but they refused. 

When Snapchat couldn’t be bought, Facebook looked to Instagram — which it successfully acquired in 2012 for $1 billion — and transformed it into their version of Snapchat. 

In August 2016, Instagram unveiled its new “Stories” feature, which looked very similar to Snapchat.

They also began to adopt the same kind of filters and stickers that users loved on Snapchat. Once successfully piloted on Instagram, these features were later moved to Facebook and Messenger.   

Advertising was another pain point for Snapchat. Facebook can reach over 2 billion users and provides them with extensive demographic data. 

Essentially, they could offer companies all the same features as Snapchat, but with better advertising capabilities. Facebook’s mission has been to bury Snapchat but their latest growth data shows that won’t happen anytime soon. 

Now it appears most young people are using both Snapchat and Instagram at the same time, switching between both throughout a day. 

Snapchat Statistics You Must See to Believe

So you’ve been hearing us talk about all of these amazing numbers from Snapchat, but we haven’t actually shown you any of the hard data yet.

Let’s take a look at some of the Snapchat key statistics from 2020. If you’re a business these statistics may motivate you to advertise, or if you’re developing your app, they could give you an idea of what trends to look out for.  

First, the demographic data: 

  • Snapchat daily active users worldwide are over 200 million
  • The two largest Snapchat markets are North America (83 million) and Europe (64 million)
  • 61% of Snapchat users worldwide are female
  • Four million Australians are using Snapchat daily
  • In Australia, 31% of Snapchat users are 18-24, 28% are 25-34, and 23% are 13-17 (similar to U.S. demographics)

And now let’s examine behavior:

  • Over 3.5 billion snaps are sent per day
  • The average Snapchat user snaps 34 times per day
  • Snapchat users spend between 27 to 50 minutes on the app per day
  • There is an average of 10 billion video views per day
  • Over 500,000 lenses have been created on Snapchat
  • Snapchat Stories are viewed about 10 billion times per day
  • 46% of Snapchat users are on the app several times per day
  • The top five uses of Snapchat: talk to friends, share photos, play with lenses/filters, share videos, share about their day
  • Emotions associated with Snapchat: silly, creative, attractive, flirtatious, and spontaneous

Finally, the statistics about revenue: 

  • The 2020 second-quarter figures show a record high Snapchat growth with a year-on-year quarterly increase of 48%
  • Snap’s revenue for the second quarter of 2019 came to $388 million, while total revenue for 2018 was $1.2 billion 
  • 99% of Snapchat revenue is still generated through advertising 

Snapchat’s current strategy is to appeal to some older audiences to ensure its future viability, but the app still provides a tremendous opportunity for companies to reach younger audiences through engagement and advertising. 

The app’s impressive performance this year is showing that it can weather Instagram Stories and emerging competition from other apps. 

What Can You Learn From Snapchat’s User Growth?

And, now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! What can we all learn from Snapchat’s user growth?

Although a boost in engagement was expected for all social media companies during the quarantine, app developers can still learn from Snapchat’s playbook. 

Their recent success demonstrated that people are craving more intimate experiences on social media.

They want to get silly with a core group of friends and not have it be permanently indexed on Google. They are sick of the way other apps make them feel anxious and overwhelmed. 

Clever app developers could consider this behavioral data when setting up their platforms. 

On the other hand, experts in app design pointed out that Snapchat’s mishandling of its last update in 2018 may have alienated some users. Recent updates from Instagram have been smaller in scope and well-tested to ensure user happiness. 

Here are some Mobile UX Design tips based on Snapchat’s experience: 

  1. Always focus on usability, value, functionality, adaptability, and ease of navigation
  2. Be like Snapchat by creating a unique product for a specific audience
  3. Keep innovating and trying new things
  4. Continue testing while you’re innovating to know exactly how users will react to every new design
  5. Conduct market research and listen to customer feedback

Snapchat had perfect timing. They were able to target unique features to a large audience of young social media users desiring a different kind of online experience.

Transforming Your Mobile App Idea Into Reality

Are you a mobile start-up or business with a fantastic idea for a new app? EB Pearls is here to help! We’re a leading mobile app developer in Australia who can help you reach the kind of Snapchat user growth mentioned in this article.

Over the years we’ve worked with businesses and corporations like the World Wildlife Fund, Habitat for Humanity, the University of Sydney, and Bauer Media Group to create innovative and intuitive apps. 

We’ve built over 340 apps — with over 40 in the Top 10 — for both Apple and Android environments.

Book a free consultation with us today and learn how we can lead you through the process of developing a successful mobile app for your business. 

tiffany-palmer@2x By Tiffany Palmer

Tiffany comes with a unique creative ability. She is one of the quickest learners of new tools and methodology. She leads the atomic design principles within our UI & UX team that has helped us to deliver high-quality design faster.

Read more Articles by this Author