Snapchat, the image-messaging service with 173 million users, drove 40% growth in messages submitted to its Stories feature after starting Snap Maps, which shows users the geographic location of their friends in the mobile application, CEO Evan Spiegel said last week at the Vanity Fair Establishment Summit, according to Axios. Stories is a way for Snapchat users to show all their friends and followers a group of images and messages in a single post that lasts for 24 hours.
Snapchat estimates more than 1 trillion Snaps will be sent this year or 3 billion a day, with daily active users opening the app 20 times a day. About two-thirds of users, or 60%, create content on the platform every day, while one-third of that group uses Snapchat’s augmented reality (AR) features, such as its geofilters and masks
Snap Maps last month was praised by Wired columnist Jessi Hempel for its ability to let users see real-time news from Snapchat users who post images and videos to Stories. As Hurricane Harvey bore down on Houston, Snap Maps made it easy for users to see first-hand accounts of the storm shared on social media.
Snap Maps lets people share their geographic location with friends and followers, opening up a powerful tool for engagement with the app among people who use it to travel the globe and view the collective experience of others. Since its introduction in June, the feature has spurred serious privacy concerns, especially for teen users who may not be aware that they have allowed a stranger to see their location. But Snap Maps has a “ghost mode” that hides geographic positioning.
The feature holds potential for marketers looking to engage Snapchat users based on their location. An early example is how iHeartRadio used Snap Map to give users a chance to see a private performance by singer Lorde.
The power of Snap Maps as an engagement tool is important for parent company Snap, whose user growth has slowed as Facebook’s Instagram has copied features like Stories. CEO Evan Spiegel has said the company wants to give people more power to create and express themselves with camera tools. The greater engagement with existing users is a way to fend off rivals like Facebook and Instagram.
Spiegel said at the conference that Snap aims to focus on individual expression that’s free of a “layer of judgment” seen on other social media platforms. While Facebook and Instagram urge people to measure their popularity and social significance with the approval of friends and acquaintances, it’s not clear that Snapchat liberates its users from judgments by not having a “like” button.