Facebook vs Snapchat: A Battle to the Death?

August 7, 2017

The shadow of the social media behemoth, Facebook, may be casting a pall over its competitor, Snapchat. In less than a year, Facebook has started cornering Snapchat’s market, incorporating some of the distinct Snapchat features into its own products. In fall of 2016, Instagram (property of Facebook) released a new “stories” feature, mimicking the limited time picture/video stories on Snapchat. Then, in 2017, Facebook incorporated a stories feature into its own site. By essentially copying Snapchat’s hallmark, Facebook sent a clear message: we want your users and advertiser income, so the war is on.

In May, Instagram debuted its own selfie filters, available for use on its stories. This was another attempt to seemingly copy a feature of Snapchat: using augmented reality to transform the user’s image. However, this addition could prove to be a very dangerous competitive situation for Snapchat. A lot of Snapchat’s revenue derives from advertisers who will pay upwards of $750,000 for a custom lens or filter. As Facebook and Instagram begin to offer custom lenses to advertisers, likely at a lower price, Snapchat’s income will suffer. In fact, in early July, Snapchat stock took a dive below IPO price, and its price target decreased by almost half.  

Facebook is quickly overtaking much of the features that distinguished Snapchat. Instagram stories now appear to have almost 100 million more daily active users than Snapchat, and Snap’s drop in the stock market does not bode well for its future. However, Snapchat retains high engagement levels. Users appear to spend about 30 minutes per day on Snapchat (the second most popular platform behind Facebook), as opposed to about 15 minutes on Instagram. Snapchat continues to be unique as a messaging application, and is keeping a lot of its users for this reason. The problem seems to be that advertisers have yet to find a way to effectively use the platform, and get their money’s worth. If Snapchat can find a way to offer advertisers a better price or unique method of marketing, or simply continue growing its user base, it can bounce back from these blows. However, if Facebook continues to target Snapchat’s features, Snap could easily fall by the wayside, a la Myspace. Ultimately, the trends we follow as consumers will sway the tide in this battle, and help decide the winner between this modern David vs Goliath tale.  

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