Snapchat is the most popular social platform among teens in the US, and with an upcoming IPO in Q1 and demand of growing revenue it is becoming increasingly interesting for brands. This study analyzed more than 500 brands running their own Snapchat accounts posting more than 24,000 stories consisting of more than 217,000 snaps with the goal of understanding how they’re using Snapchat and what level of engagement to expect.
Snapchat is becoming a beast in the social media world…in a good way!
With over 6 billion daily mobile video views and 150 million daily global users the little white ghost on a yellow background is starting to command a massive, engaged audience and that spells potential for businesses out there.
No doubt those numbers got you interested and we’re not surprised…
Massive brands like McDonald’s, Disney, Taco Bell in the USA and ASOS in the UK have all started marketing and advertising on the mobile app and smaller brands and businesses can now follow them and learn from their mistakes and successes. Add to that the fact that the app is slowly aging upwards from teens and Millennials to young and older adults and this trend is set to continue and trickle down to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
As with all marketing, and especially with anything on social media, success lies in the creation of incredible, engaging content, self-promotion and outreach, but measuring that success on a new channel can still be tricky.
That’s where we step in. Follow along below to understand what metrics matter on Snapchat.
Snapchat Metrics That Matter
As with every social channel the tendency is to judge all success and failure against the account follower numbers. History and general knowledge suggests that more followers means more success and vice versa.
Whilst this can be true, the best social media marketing, and Snapchat in particular, is all about commanding attention and engagement and with that in mind businesses should also focus on the following:
Unless using a geo-filter or one-to-one customer engagement a brand’s Snapchat marketing will primarily revolve around the creation of “Stories”, 24 hour segments of sequential content, and item count is simply how many photos or videos each story contains.
This will be a useful metric when monitoring the success or failure of long or short-form Snapchat stories.
Marketers are obsessed with email marketing open rates and the same might just happen with Snapchat open counts/rates.
Each open is a clear indication of customer interest. Whether they hang around or engage with your content is another story…
Which brings us on to screenshots.
Screenshots are a way of life for smartphone users nowadays and for brands using Snapchat this can open up a whole array of potential options. Businesses could encourage Snapchat followers to screenshot to enter competitions, secure an exclusive discount code or just pass on a funny message to friends and family.
The opportunities are there for creative brands but the chief reason for measuring screenshots is to measure engagement.
Time/Length of Story
Similar to Item Count, it’s always worth measuring and monitoring just what type of content generates the best return from your audience and in this case it’s the measurement of the entire story length in seconds.
Each piece of image or video content on a Snapchat story can be viewed for a total of 10 seconds at a time and some brands may discover their audiences enjoy longer stories and vice versa.
The final Snapchat metric of note is Completion Rate and this is measured as a percentage.
As stated early having a large amount of followers is potentially a great thing for a brand but if those followers aren’t engaging or consuming the content produced then their value diminishes.
This metric will allow businesses to consider the success or failure of their Snapchat content creation and adjust accordingly.
It might seem like a lot to consider but the reality is metrics are everywhere today in digital marketing and businesses quickly adapt to new numbers and channels.
When it comes to social media for business there isn’t a golden rule or a one-size-fits-all approach but there is a universal truth that can be applied: diversification.
The last ten years, a lifetime in the Web 2.0 world, has seen the rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but also the fall of Vine, Bebo and Myspace amongst others.
Businesses and brands that built audiences on Vine, Periscope or other channels without moving their followers across other platforms struggled with each channel’s respective demise.
The lesson to learn is to diversify and move your followers onto other growing social media channels to increase exposure, brand awareness, and marketing opportunities but also to decrease the risk of losing your voice completely.
Moving your social media followers to Snapchat isn’t a waste of time, it’s a necessity and diversification is just the start.
Snapchat now has a massive daily audience of 150 million global users. This is a massive audience, almost on a par with Twitter, and with older demographics, specifically 40 and up, still largely untouched there is huge potential for that number to get even bigger as the user base ages up!
As each new update slowly transforms Snapchat into a social media platform even more capable of competing with Facebook and Instagram the audience grows in both size and diversity.
Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
As we stated, in our Why Snapchat is Winning the Attention Game post, Snapchat has a serious grip on users attentions right now and our numbers completely back that up.
One Snaplytics user, a food brand, hit massive 91% and 95% story completion rates on two different pieces of content. Can you image 95% of your followers on any other platform watching or reading what you’re creating? It’s crazy!
Similarly a broadcaster picked up a 78% completion rate from an audience of over 8 thousand!
If you haven’t used Snapchat yet these figures might seem like jargon but it all boils down to one key commodity: attention.
Snapchat changed in a significant way after the last update – and you may have not even noticed. The obvious update came in the shape of Memories, an in-app gallery that can be used to share old photos and videos.
However, another feature was also modified: Saving Snaps to your phone’s photo gallery.
With the autoplay update to Snapchat, the percent of users watching your video’s in full plummeted. Instead they tap within the first 25% of the snap, leaving your message unconveyed. Some of the effect can be mitigated by shorter and more frequent updates and a keen focus on consistent great content making you the top choice to start with.
Perhaps one of the most revealing data points Snaplytics can provide is the tap rate, basically this percentage showcases how many of your viewers views the full story without tapping. This can often be an indication of whether your stories are engaging – low tap rates translate into an uninterested audience while high rates portray commitment to watching it through. The latest Snapchat update, which we discussed in a previous blog post, impacted how users behave within the app in more ways than one. Retention rate, the number of users watching all the Snaps in stories dropped 5% but the number of first open increased at the same time offsetting much of the effect. On this instance we will explain how tap rate changed with the latest update.
What was the update about?
Apart from a range of additional features, Snapchat also changed on a technical level by making stories under your Recent Updates section autoplay the next after you’re done with one. Previously, users would have to manually click through the different stories, allowing them to choose which one they watched next. According to this article by Digiday this may be the beginning of a transition towards something bigger… an algorithm sorting and prioritizing the story feed (and likely introduce adds in between). But, back to the tap rates.
How did we think the stats changed?
Discussions on Snapchat metrics in our office, which are plentiful, concluded with the idea that the update would increase tap rate. Why? Because users would reject the app forcing them to watch the following story and therefore skip faster. We also took into consideration the data from the previous blog on retention rate which showed a noticeable decrease but an increase in the overall number of views on the first Snap. We also figured that because of the update it is also easier to “clean out” the Recent Updates section, you would just have to tap through very fast while not noticing what story you were watching.
Here’s what actually happened
So the Snaplytics team was both wrong and right on our assumptions. Crunching the data(1) revealed not much changed for the first 3 to 5 snaps in a story – but then the drop comes with a vengeance.
We are talking an average drop of 36% from the 4th snap an onwards, clearly indicating force feeding content to followers may not be that great an idea, if you want to increase the duration you have the eyeballs on your message.
It may not be all bad, if users are tapping in the last second of the snap – let’s investigate.
Users are staying around for shorter periods of time within your Snaps
Another question we wanted answered was when, within the story, do users tap. With the update, it was possible that users were tapping fast and rapidly just to clean up the story feed. However the chance of them wanting to see what the new story was, and therefore sticking around longer, also real.
Basically you can either tap or view the full video. If you tap, we measured in quartiles:
- 1st Quartile: First 25% of the Snap
(i.e. within the first 2,5 second for a 10 second video)
- 2nd Quartile: 25%-50% of the Snap
(i.e. betweeh 2,5 and 5 seconds for a 10 second video)
- 3rd Quartile: 50%-75% of the Snap
- 4th Quartile: 75%-100% of the Snap
The data revealed an interesting situation when crunching the numbers after the update.
Change before and after the autoplay update (% of total viewers)
What the numbers above mean is that there was a drop of 13,2%point of people watching the full video. Almost all of those that tapped, did it within the first quartile – i.e. within 2,5 seconds for a 10 second video.
This excludes the placement of the Snap having an impact on when users skip, but even then we can determine the effect the update has had.
Change in % of total viewers before and after the autoplay update
|Placement of Snap in Story||1st Quartile||2nd Quartile||3rd Quartile||4th Quartile||Full Snap|
The data correlated with the snaps position in the story is aligned with the drop in tap rates. The further out the position the higher the tap rates – and the increase is predominantly within the 1st quartile.
What does it mean for your Snapchat engagement?
We presented some grueling facts on your Snapchat engagement, but it may not be that bad after all. Instead of posting 20+ snap stories like many brands seems to have come accustomed to, it may be wise to do shorter stories on a more frequent basis – likely with 5ish snaps in it.
With the increased frequency you will be pushed to the top of the story feed and hopefully be the lucky 1st story to be viewed. At least your chances should increase with the top position. From a previous crunching of the data we did on optimal time for publishing (there was none at that moment, and we never published the article), we found out that +80% of your followers viewed your story after 4-5 hours. Updating the story 3 times a day every 4 hours may have a positive impact on the tap rate and the length of time you will be able to capture your followers eyeballs.
Unfortunately we can’t measure what number the story was in the user’s feed, but it would be interesting to correlate with above numbers. It is safe to say though, you need to create quality content consistently to be picked first…especially with the algorithm suggested by Digiday, where content you are more likely to view will be prioritized – they must (or should) factor in the tap rate more than any other metric.
1) All data based on detailed insights from Snaplytics customers.
Just when we thought we had figured out Snapchat, the Venice Beach-based company released an update that changed the Snapchat marketing landscape and your Snapchat metrics. Snapchat remains a favorite of millennials and many deep-pocketed brands are signing on to produce app-exclusive content, further cementing its importance as a component of any marketing strategy.
In-app audio and video calls, sharing images, and a friendlier user interface were added to Snapchat’s repertoire. The app also changed the way stories are viewed, and here lies the most noticeable alteration to how users behave within Snapchat. Let’s take a look at how engagement has changed with this latest update.
Previously, your followers would have to manually click through the different stories under Recent Update, allowing them to choose which one they watched next. After the update, the app automatically goes from one story to the next with no prompt from the user needed.
How does this change engagement for brands and influencers on Snapchat?
The update may not seem like a lot; however, it is designed to increase time spent by users within the app and perhaps more importantly the magic word ~Snapchat engagement~. As a brand or influencer it’s important you understand the impact this can have on your publishing1:
Average retention rate has dropped 5-6% points. Before the update, stories that had 5-10 Snaps had an average retention rate of 90%; after the update that number sits at 85%. Stories with 11-20 Snaps had a retention rate of 86% before the update, while now that number is 80%. This means that the number of followers watching all the snaps in your story has dropped.
Snapchat retention rate for stories before and after the update.
The percentage of followers that open the first Snap in a story has increased 3%. Before the update the average rate was around 43% and that number is now around 45%. This is an expected jump considering that the app now takes you to the next story automatically.
What does that mean for an account with 100k Snapchat followers?
Well, actually it is not a huge difference in terms of how many will see the full story. But if you measure the success based on “first opens”, you may be celebrating a bit too early.
Story with 8 snaps – before and after the update for a 100k Snapchat account
|Number of followers||100.000||100.000|
|% opening the story||43%||45%|
|People who will see the first snap||43.000||45.000|
|% completing the story||90%||85%|
|People who will complete the full story||38.739||38.347|
For a 100k account, your “first opens” will be 2000 higher than before the update, but with the lower completion rate, 400 fewer people will have seen the full story.
Plausible logic behind the numbers
What does this all mean? First, it seems your followers may not even realize they are watching a completely new story for the first 2-3 Snaps in a story. However, when they do, it appears that a percentage of them stop watching, which impacts retention rate. The increase in open rate for the initial snap is positive, however the negative impact from lower retention overshadows that increase.
The data seems to indicate that users are annoyed by the automatic transition between stories. Snapchat, by wrestling control of how Snaps are played from users, indirectly impacts how many of your followers stay tuned to your entire story. To combat this, the first few Snaps in a story must be able to hook in viewers more so than before the update.
Lesson learned: disgruntled users that realize the Story is not from the same account need a reason to stay and you must be able to provide that reason within the first few Snaps.
1) All data based on detailed insights from Snaplytics customers.