There are certain metrics—like daily active users—that indicate big success in social media. If users are actively posting, engaging, sharing and generally spending time with your site or application, then it’s considered a success. With the news that Snapchat surpassed Twitter in DAUs, it’s important to reflect on other related factors when judging success and failure.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, Snapchat’s active daily audience has grown to 150 million. Comparatively, Twitter maintains at an estimated 140 million DAUs, based on an average of analyst estimates collected by Bloomberg. While these statistics are a little speculative, it seems that Snapchat is faring better because of a number of key differences.
Twitter definitely has the more established revenue models. However it is having trouble with user retention and growth. Approachability is a problem for Twitter, and even CEO Jack Dorsey admits that the network can be “confusing.” Twitter also seems to be struggling with the character limit that made it popular in the first place. Dorsey also admits that Snapchat is “modern” and concedes that gesture, not button pressing, is the way forward in the mobile space.
Snapchat seems to be a service wherein the mechanism of sharing is exactly what users are looking for right now. The self-destructing shared images allow for snappy communication that doesn’t go on the social media permanent record, and the stories allow users to present a short-term piece of more curated content. And Snapchat overall is just more fun, according to CEO Evan Spiegel:
Somewhere along the way, when we were building social media products, we forgot that the reason we like to communicate with our friends is because it’s fun.
Twitter is trying to fix its engagement problems and deliver a better experience for all users, while Snapchat seems to be able to attract users effortlessly because of the experience it already offers. Given their relative status in the social media hierarchy, it’s difficult to make direct comparisons between the two; they do not offer the same things to the same users.
Which is not to say that the services can’t learn from one another. Twitter needs to modernize, and Snapchat is still working to lock in its revenue model. Both networks need to tackle their respective challenges and deliver an experience that users actually want to engage with.
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