Mobile App Success Stories: How Slack Did It -

Mobile App Success Story: How Snapchat Did It


If it is Monday then it is time for a new mobile app success story. We continue with the idea of communication started a week ago with Slack but this time from a different angle. We no longer refer to business messaging; instead we focus the discussion on funny images and videos with Snapchat, because the entire concept became a magnet for all categories of companies. This is the reason why we will talk about Snapchat as a phenomenon for young users and in the same time as the marketing opportunity for a huge number of brands.

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Brilliant Idea

There was a real dispute about the start of Snapchat but the main scenario shows three students at Stanford University, Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy that transformed their wish to send images which disappeared after a little while into a multibillion app. At first the app was named Pictaboo but in September 2011, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy renamed it Snapchat. The controversy behind Snapchat is far from our purpose in this article, so we will focus on the opportunity offered by the attempt to create something different from the rest of the world. The self – disappearing photos and videos provided two main advantages. First of all the limited lifetime of those snaps encouraged users to try the app, and secondly, it removed the concerns of Snapchat’s owners about storing, archiving and managing those creatives. Now let’s see what exactly determined Snapchat’s trajectory point by point.

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How Snapchat Did It

There are many growth hacks noticed in Snapchat’s strategy that will work for your app if you adapt them to the right context.

Word Of Mouth

It is amazing how powerful World Of Mouth can be if you have a great app. Back in 2011, after a couple of months since the launch of Snapchat the app had only 100 users, but the funny story is that a cousin of one of the co-founders shared it with his school mates and this way the app became a sensation for teenagers all over the world. Many people downloaded the app out of the curiosity and they were thrilled that goofy photos sent in a wacky moment were gone forever after the message was opened by the receiver.

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Snapchat has its targeted market and Milennials know how to live the moment and to enjoy the entire experience offered by the app. If you think about Milennials immediately your mind fly to the bright yellow background which defines Snapchat. Their love for this app is so impressive that they started to invest in Snap stocks as you can read in an article published by Reuters along with many testimonials. Their average age is around 26 years old. This is really the portrait of true loyal users.

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Emojis And Filters

Because most of Snapchat users are young people it was mandatory for the app owners to think about a strategy that would bring Emojis to Snapchat for the joy of their customers. This is the reason why Snapchat spent $100 million last year for buying Bitstrips, an Emoji app to adapt the bitmojis to suit the Snapchat style. A recent article of TechCrunch gives many interesting details about the Bitmoji widget. For Snapchaters this is considered an extra touch for sharing their thoughts in a more entertaining way.

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Another great amount, $150 million was invested in a Ukrainian startup Looksery, for the facial recognition technology which is the base of so appreciated Snapchat Lenses. While this feature is created for funny activities the algorithms behind it are very interesting and complex. For a better understanding of how it works and why these filters move along with the person behind them, you can check the video shared by PetaPixel.

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For Snapchat everything is different. From the core function of the app to the way users connect with their contacts, everything reveals a personal and human aspect. Maybe these characteristics transformed Snapchat into a go to app for customers who want to impress their friends and brands that are looking to bring their products in front of their clients. The ephemerality of snaps and the opportunity offered for its users to share their stories represent the key factors that explain the fast growth of this app. As you can see the least important reason for users to prefer Snapchat is to connect with their friends, maybe because there are a lot of other apps focusing their efforts on this main goal.

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The entire complex of user acquisition and retention

Snapchat’s owners eventually understood that it is not enough to just launch an interesting app as we mentioned before because they didn’t accomplished something great when they released the app. Just after they started spreading the word about it, everything got on the right track. The next move was to enhancing the app for impressing more and more their users. Constantly adding improvements and innovative features helps them to keep their users really addicted to the platform.

As you can see, the secret is to match and mix techniques for acquiring new users with different strategies to engage them, as we revealed in our article Building A Sustainable Mobile App Growth With User Acquisition And Retention.

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Advertising platform

Observing the huge potential represented by the marketing section of the app, the team behind Snapchat managed to create an incredible platform that not only help brands to promote their products but they also find new ways to transform ads into a playful experience. This dynamic evolution requires our full attention and this is why AppSamurai constantly informs you about the latest features and services released by Snapchat. We shared with you the Best Practices Of Snapchat Ads To Drive Installs that will definitely help when you want to take advantage for impressing Snapchaters with vertical videos, now even more with the new self – serve tool to buy ads launched few days ago. Another benefit of Snapchat marketing framework is that you can use Snapchat Sponsored Geo Filters for the Most Personal Form Of Mobile Ads: Location – Based Advertising. If you want to discover how high is the level of innovation for Snapchat you can check Snapchat World Lenses. Maybe you will be inspired to implement a new advertising campaign using 3D effects.

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Bonus Tip: Don’t sell your dream.

This is the place where we highlight the most valuable lesson from the entire story. It is famous the moment in 2013 when Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s owner!) offered Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy $3 billion in cash for the app and they refused. After just 4 years, in March 2017 Snap Inc. the rebranded company that owns Snapchat listed a market valuation of almost $25 billion, the highest valuation for a US tech Initial Public Offering since 2012. If somebody doubt that the decline of the $3 billion offer was the right thing to do now they have their answer. Good choice of those young entrepreneurs to keep the app and to fight for its growth with all their weapons. The takeaway from here is that if you really believe in your product, so are your customers.

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We just covered another worthy representation of the path from a brilliant idea to a triumphal app. This is the proof that focusing your attention on offering your users the product they want before they even realize what they needed is the proper way to start your business. In most cases that is what many app owners dream to accomplish and if you apply what you discover in our articles, maybe your app will be one of our next success stories.


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