Can Snapchat be the next Facebook of India?

Snapchat is rapidly catching up with platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as one of the most popular social platforms for sharing of videos and images. Will this phenomenon be witnessed in India too?

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Jun 9, 2016 7:44 AM
Can Snapchat be the next Facebook of India?

Snapchat is rapidly catching up with platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as one of the most popular social platforms for sharing of videos and images.

According to the recent Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report 2016, Snapchat is just second to Facebook in terms of time spent on it monthly. It already sees 150 million daily users. To put this in context, this is much more than what Twitter sees.

In a report released yesterday, eMarketer called 2016 a “banner year” for Snapchat, saying, “It will grow its user base by double digits, pulling ahead of Twitter and Pinterest in the US for the first time. The report further said that this gap will only widen through 2020. The app is expected to grow at 27.2 per cent in 2016, says eMarketer.

The reasons fuelling the growth are manifold but the main one is an increasing tendency by users to gravitate towards more visual mediums. It is a common opinion among digital experts and analysts that this is one reason why Twitter struggles to get more users.


Snapchat has also been very effective of attracting the fancy of the younger audiences.
For example, says Sanjay Mehta, Co-CEO of Mirum India, “Snapchat is really popular with users under the age of 21. It is, in fact, more popular than Facebook and Whatsapp in this demographic.”

But it is not just images which are getting shared on Snapchat. Over the last 3 years, since it released video sharing, it is fast becoming one of the most popular platforms even for video sharing.



As the above slide suggests, Snapchat is even outpacing Facebook when it comes to video sharing and views.

And unlike Facebook, which has taken a very cautious approach with Instagram when it comes to advertising, Snapchat has been releasing a slew of products to attract brands, including native ads, native video ads, branded lenses, etc.



Revamped version

Just yesterday Snapchat announced a major new redesign to its app, which is intended to boost publisher content and thus help improve advertising on the platform. With the new redesign, Snapchat has changed the way stories are seen on two of its sections, namely, Live Stories (user content) and Discover (publisher content). Publishers are now able to promote stories with a headline and image, while their content will also be pushed to Live Stories. Also, users will be able to subscribe to publishers they like through a ‘Subscribe’ button.   

As of 2014, Snapchat had about 9 per cent marketshare in India when it came to messaging apps, a decent share for something that was launched in just 2011.

Digital experts give their say

Currently, it is not clear how many Snapchat users are in India but digital experts we spoke with agreed that it is a number that is increasing rapidly, with one hazarding that it could be close to 4 million.

“Snapchat is doing quite well from the point of view of market interest. It has a small but vibrant community. For the past two years, we have been seeing this trend of users preferring a visual medium and the way Snapchat is designed, it becomes attractive to users. A visual element takes away a lot of pressure off the user,” opined Gautamm Mehra, VP (Account Planning & Innovation) at iProspect India.

The recent controversy with Tanmay Bhatt has further increased interest in the platform.

Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult told us, “The entire controversy gave Snapchat primetime TV coverage which is obviously very valuable. Facebook had its run-ins with hate speech and religious content in the past but the platform has only grown. This is very favourable for Snapchat which is globally one of the fastest growing social platforms. The app is popular among the age group of 15-25 years mainly in India.”

What’s in it for the advertiser?

But the larger question is whether it makes sense for the advertiser? Even globally, though advertising revenues have increased, it is still considered an expensive proposition. This is especially true in case of videos due to the platform’s vertical-only view criteria. Thus something created for Snapchat cannot easily be put to other uses.

Also, as we pointed out in an earlier article, targeting on Snapchat is still considered an issue, not to add, the very narrow age demographic of the platform.

“There needs to be a convincing validation to advertise on Snapchat, which is currently not the case. If the brand is in a category that appeals to this particular demographic then it makes sense,” said Mehra.

However, this is not to say that there is no interest. Digital marketers tell us that brands are looking at what can be done on the platform, though they are also concerned about the afore-mentioned points.

“There are two things about Snapchat. On the one hand, the targeting is still far from convincing because of the way the system is designed. It is like what Instagram was about a year and a half ago. But it has a small and vibrant community. Also, because it is still invite-only, it is very private, as opposed to other platforms. Some categories, like fashion, are using Snapchat extensively,” informed Mehra.

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