App Promotion Strategy

Snapchat Announces New Creator Monetization Tools as it Seeks to Maximize In-App Engagement

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Snapchat is adding monetization tools for some creators as it tries to increase its engagement and keep up with TikTok’s growing popularity among young audiences.

First off, as it looks to re-align its payment program for its TikTok-like Spotlight feed, Snapchat’s launching new ‘Spotlight Challenges’, which will provide cash prizes for users who post the best videos on a specific theme.

The new Spotlight Challenges will outline the specifics of each trend, as well as the prizes on offer for the best performing clips in each category.

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As explained by Snapchat:

“Spotlight Challenges will be available on the Trending Page, accessed via the trending up symbol on the top right corner of Spotlight within Snapchat. Select the Challenge you want to participate in to see that specific Challenge’s page, which will feature the Challenge description and entries submitted by the community. Tap “Challenge Details” for additional contest-specific details like available prizes and submission deadlines. Tap the camera icon to open the Snapchat camera. Create and submit!”

It’s a fairly straightforward process, and it could provide a means for Snapchat to fuel rising content trends, which is one of the key ways that users engage on TikTok. It could also provide a new revenue opportunity for the app, with brands eventually able to sponsor specific Spotlight trends relative to their promotions.

To be clear, Snapchat hasn’t said that Sponsored trends are on the cards as yet, but it seems like a logical progression for the option.

The total prize amount for individual Spotlight Challenges will typically range from $1k to $25k, although occasionally we may make available a larger sum for a particular Challenge, and the minimum prize a Snapchatter can win in a Spotlight Challenge is $250.”

The alternate prize pool could also be a way for Snapchat to re-jig its current Spotlight payment program, which has been effective, in some respects, but has also proven problematic as well.

At launch, in November last year, Snapchat announced that it would pay out $1 million per day, to be shared among the top-performing Spotlight clips, as means to incentivize engagement, and kick-start the offering. Which worked – by the end of Q1, Spotlight had jumped to 125 million monthly active users (out of Snapchat’s 280m total actives), but by that stage, Snap had already paid out $90 million in creator payments, with more to come, and the cost-to-benefit ratio was starting to look a little out of whack.

In the end, Snap might have been better off paying 125 thousand people $1k each to just check out and engage with Spotlight content every day throughout the year, as that may well have ended up both cheaper and more effective.

Hindsight aside, with the costs continuing to mount up, in June, Snap announced an update to its Spotlight payment process, shifting from daily payments of $1 million for Spotlight clips to a more vague ‘millions per month’.

That’s caused various problems for Snap creators, who had already raised concerns about delayed payments and other issues with the program. And given that some had been earning tens of thousands per month from Spotlight, sometimes more, that left many feeling jilted, and has ended up souring some of Snap’s creator partnerships as a result, the opposite of the intended impact of the process.

Maybe, then, this will be a more logical, and sustainable means of funding Spotlight clips, which could also entice a broader range of creators into the program, as opposed to the top creators taking the lion’s share of the funding.

The new funding will come from the current ‘millions per month’ in overall Spotlight payments, so it won’t increase Snap’s costs, but it could, eventually, provide a range of new options for Spotlight.

It’s an interesting experiment in boosting potential engagement with the option – though again, it likely won’t help to appease Spotlight creators who have already seen their payment amounts reduce over time.

Snapchat says that Spotlight Challenges will be rolling out next month to Snapchatters on Android and iOS in the US, with more markets coming in the following months.

In addition to this, Snapchat’s also expanding its virtual gifting option to all ‘Snap Stars’ around the world.

Snapchat first announced its virtual gifting process in May, with verified Snap creators able to accept digital gifts, like the above animation, which can be purchased by users via on-platform tokens.

When you send a Gift to a Creator, your Story Reply gets prioritized in their feed! You will be able to see when a Creator has opened your Gift, and they can reply back 1:1 or share your reply to their Public Story!”

The majority of the purchase amount for these digital stickers goes back to creator, providing another means for Snap stars to earn direct revenue from their efforts, and build connection with their audience in the app.

A broader range of Snap Stars will now be eligible for the program, though the specific qualifiers for gaining a verified creator account, and therefore being able to receive gifts in the app, are not 100% clear.

At present, the qualifiers for a Snap Creator account are:

  • 100 Subscribers
  • Profile active for one week
  • At Least 1 bi-directional friend

But that’s just the starting point – in order to be eligible to receive in-app gifts, you need to have a ‘Snap Star’ profile, which is the next level of creator account.

As per Snap:

We consider many factors to determine an account’s eligibility for a Snap Star upgrade (also known as a verified Creator Account). In addition to abiding by Snap’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, those factors include account engagement and growth, account usage for public consumption, authenticity, notability and cultural relevance and content quality.”

As with most social verification programs, all of these measures are fairly opaque, and there are no prescriptive qualifiers, as such, for each element. But for those that do qualify, it’ll provide another monetization option, which could help Snap keep its top stars posting and engaging more often.

Snap’s also updating its Creator Marketplace influencer/brand connection platform, with businesses now able to connect with Snap Stars in the app “to help elevate their marketing presence on the platform”.

Originally launched back in May, Snap’s Creator Marketplace initially only facilitated connection with Lens Creators, Lens Developers and Lens Partners. But now, Snapchat’s extending that to verified creators also, providing another option for brands to link up with influencers who’ve already built audiences in the app for their promo campaigns.

Going hand-in-hand with this, Snap’s also adding a new ‘sponsored by’ tag, which will enable Snap Stars to tag a brand in their sponsored content.

And finally, Snapchat’s also launching a new Creator Hub which will provide a range of Snapchat tips and tools to help improve your platform knowledge and output.

The platform will provide overviews on all aspects of the platform, which will be helpful to both creators and marketers alike.

These are some interesting updates from Snap, which align with the rising ‘creator economy’ push, as each app works to provide more monetization potential, as they work to retain the best, more engaging talent.

Because in the end, talent is what wins. TikTok is probably doing best at democratizing its content approach, through hashtag trends and remixes, but for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, it’s the big stars that get users coming back to their content every day.

Eventually, the hope of every app that isn’t TikTok will be that TikTok isn’t able to build an equitable monetization framework, which will drive its stars to other apps instead (which is what happened to Vine). But over time, as TikTok continues to advance its eCommerce tools in particular, that looks less and less likely. Which then puts every app in a race to maximize creator funding, and Snapchat, too, is clearly looking to maximize its potential with new tools and experiments like these.

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