Are Influencers Ghosting Snapchat?

Opinion: Users are leaving the platform and its little ghost mascot in the lurch without so much as a moment’s notice

A quick search for the definition of “ghosting” returns the following: “noun—the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” Seems harsh, right?

Well, for Snapchat right now, ghosting is an unfortunate reality, as users are leaving the platform and its little ghost mascot in the lurch without so much as a moment’s notice.

In fact, there has even been a 22 percent drop in Snapchat downloads over April and May, which is not exactly welcome news to investors.

Like I’ve discussed before, the explanation behind this exodus is no mystery. Instagram (and Facebook for that matter) appears hell-bent on beating Snapchat at its own game and knocking it into obscurity. Since Snapchat’s drawing board appears void of many fresh ideas to compete, Instagram is well on its way to accomplishing this goal.

As the battle between Snapchat and Instagram continues, our team at Collective Bias thought it would be interesting to gather perspective directly from influencers—individuals whose influence is among the most coveted assets for either of these platforms. Just as general users are moving toward greener social media pastures, influencers seem to be following suit, too.

Platform preference and prioritization

With so many digital channels to choose from and more popping up every day (like Mastodon’s 15 minutes of fame), influencers cannot possibly be everywhere at once, nor should they be.

There is a considerable investment of time, energy and resources that influencers must undertake in the content development process alone, and these individuals understandably require a worthwhile return for their efforts.

This past May, we polled roughly 600 social influencers to better understand their opinions and preferences for certain social platforms. Some of the results were to be expected, while others had us rubbing our eyes and doing double takes.

Almost every influencer we surveyed had a blog presence along with active Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. About 55 percent reported having YouTube accounts, while 30 percent were on Snapchat.

Nearly 70 percent of influencers acknowledged that they had put at least one of their social platforms on pause to focus on others. Here’s where things get especially interesting, though: Snapchat ranked as the most popular platform to be put on hold, with 46 percent indicating that it would be their first choice to cut.

We knew Snapchat was struggling, but we were stunned to see nearly one-half of influencers putting such low priority on the platform. A closer look at the findings helps to explain why.

Instagram features interference

The new features from Instagram are clearly resonating. Almost 80 percent of influencers are using Instagram Stories, which is an impressive usage rate for what has become Instagram’s primary answer to Snapchat. Another 50 percent of influencers indicated that they are using Instagram carousels, a feature that allows users to upload and swipe through multiple pictures within the same post like a micro album. Around 20 percent are actively on Instagram Live, and we anticipate that statistic to rise over time as the live video medium gains traction.

All of this spells trouble for Snapchat, especially considering how stagnant the company has been with innovation lately.

Shortcomings on perceived value

Becoming an influencer and maintaining that status is hard work. Audiences are exponentially consuming and craving content, so the pressure for influencers to create and deliver has never been higher.

With Snapchat being the most immediate platform that many influencers would choose to put on life support, there is an obvious return on investment disconnect happening. From the influencer point of view, the problem is layered within a variety of lacking benefits.

When asked about the most important platform for their personal brands, a whopping 0 percent of influencers listed Snapchat, compared with more than 28 percent who cited Instagram and 26 percent who said Pinterest, which were among the top performers. Blogging came in at 24 percent, while 14 percent felt Facebook to be most significant.

Personal branding is the lifeblood of any influencer, whether just starting out or fully established, so this is a major gap. Time will tell if Snapchat can improve its perceived value for personal branding, but in the meantime, at least it still has DJ Khaled.

We’ve long been familiar with Snapchat’s monetization issues, and its video ads strategy does not appear to be convincing influencers.

While social media influence can offer lucrative opportunities, Snapchat is apparently not helping too many bank accounts—another, you guessed it, 0 percent of influencers reported Snapchat as their top platform for making money. The overwhelming financial favorite was blogging, which over 86 percent of influencers listed as their No. 1 money-maker. When ranking the second-biggest source of income, only 2 percent said Snapchat, while 50 percent said Instagram and 43 percent said Facebook.

While the personal brand and monetary concerns among influencers are problematic for Snapchat, perhaps the most devastating finding is the future growth outlook.

We posed a forward-looking question to influencers on which platform they thought would be the most important for them over the next five years. A mere 1 percent of influencers answered Snapchat. Ouch.

Adding insult to injury, Instagram had the most promising prospects, as nearly 42 percent felt that it would be most important for influencers down the road.

In fairness, Snapchat is still wildly popular, and it has certainly been tremendous in cultivating an engaged user group across sought-after demographics. The apparent ghosting trend among users and influencers alike, however, must be somewhat alarming.

As social tastemakers, it will be interesting to observe how an influencer migration impacts broader usage. We’ll see if Snapchat can turn things around or end up as a ghost of its former self.

Holly Pavlika is senior vice president of marketing and content at influencer marketing provider Collective Bias.

Image courtesy of ralbornoz/iStock.