OK, it’s only one country, but the numbers from eMarketer are still interesting and tap into the issue of just how sustainable multi-platforming is in social media. The research company is saying this year will be the first since its launch that Snapchat user numbers in the UK will decline, calling it an “exodus” and suggesting that rival platforms, notably Instagram, are sponging them up. It pegs UK users of Snapchat in 2019 at 14.5m, but notes this is a decline of 2.3% from 2018. This is, according to eMarketer, the start of a slow decline that will see Snapchat slip to 14.1m users by 14.1m. So maybe “exodus” is a little hyperbolic.
Those in record labels who remember the painful period 2000-2014 will no doubt scoff at such a small percentage decline, but it is obviously a concern for social media platforms for whom relevance is everything. The first sign that people are bailing for something cooler is the distant sound of the death knell in this high-growth world (see: MySpace, Bebo, Friendster etc.).
Why are Snapchat users going? Because it changed some features they enjoyed, it seems. “Many of Snapchat’s users didn’t like the way Stories and chats were mixed together in a confusing presentation, a change that went into effect in late 2017 but continued to roll out throughout 2018,” said Showmik Podder of eMarketer. “The backlash was so severe that Snapchat was forced to scale back some of the changes just a few months later.”
The decline of Snapchat is to the benefit of Instagram, with eMarketer forecasting that the latter will grow 8% this year to 21m users in the UK, reaching 23.3m by 2023.
Music streaming services should perhaps count their blessings that – for now, anyway – the growth of one is not happening because of the decline of another.