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Will SnapChat and Tumblr Survive?

Platforms that rely heavily on a youth market can be very vulnerable, as we learned from the death of Vine in 2016. While there is much speculation that Twitter itself will be the next Social Media platform to bite the dust, Twitter does have something going for it… “It Grew Up and Sold Out”.

The appeal of Snapchat and Tumblr and Vine for a youth market, primarily Millennials and Gen Z, is the fact the platforms are not commercialized to the extent of Facebook and YouTube or even Instagram. Recently Snapchat started incorporating ads, and the Snapchat Geofilters as a monetization strategy, but will it convert the core audience? Yahoo continues to have many struggles and has still not been able to truly ever get true ROI out of the Tubmlr acquisition, which was specifically predicated on the large user base (mostly young people).

A Culture that Doesn’t Convert

Snapchat and Tumblr how tremendous and passionate user basis and to their credit, they are platforms that truly understand the culture of a growing youth market. The problem is that winning with that culture often translates to using the monetization game, and that can present a struggle for keeping the lights on (why can’t we have nice things?). At the end of the day these are companies that require significant resources and ongoing investment; having millions or even billions of users won’t be enough to keep them alive, they have to pay the bills.

Growing Competition and Consolidation

Both Tumblr and Snapchat have to worry about competition from Facebook and Twitter. Twitter owns Medium.com a popular and easy to use blogging platform. Granted the audience for Tumblr dwarfs that of Medium.com, however, Tumblr is not without its issues and discovery is one them. As more competition for attention increases with new content creators, a means of discovering that content and engaging with it becomes more difficult. The less engagement, the less creators feel compelled to produce new content. Medium as a result of being owned by Twitter has easily shareable attributes and is also more SEO friendly that Tumblr. While Tumblr has a creative and youth-based audience, for now Medium dominates audiences from college upward. Millennials and Gen-Z are aging and as they age their platforms of choice tend to shift as well.

As for Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram and Instagram Stories have taken the best features of Snapchat and improved the experience and ability to discover and engage with content much better. The Overall UI/UX of Instagram Stories is far superior to Snapchat currently and the addition of live streaming increases the value. Snapchat still has a loyal youth audience, but there is little incentive to create there if you want your content to live on, and it is also very difficult to build an organic following in Snapchat without other social media platforms. Instagram doesn’t share that particular limitation.

From a business standpoint, Facebook and Twitter (for the most part) know what they are doing. These are companies that were started by older Millennials that understand the youth market, but the realities of business and have not romanticized the culture of their platform. They have experience with the evolving and shifting landscape of social media and have been able to bring businesses and brands to the table while still growing their userbase.

Where Tumblr is concerned, it may just be a matter of time before Yahoo executives decide that it is a drain on resources and that they can’t cash in on their users. On the other hand they may drag this out indefinitely considering they did pay $1 Billion for it.

Snapchat is a great platform with a great culture, but as a business, it becomes more difficult every day to see how it can stand up and stand out as well as monetize without selling its soul. By the year 2020 we all may have to give up the ghost.