Commentary

Snapchat So Far Avoiding 'The Twitter Trap'

A good gimmick and early momentum among a dedicated user base can do wonders for any platform. But lasting success requires additional traits, including ceaseless adaptation, and an unsentimental willingness to admit failure and part with problematic features and formats.

Twitter, for one, has long suffered from its reluctance to meet average people at eye level, and slow its service to their speed.

Snapchat, by contrast, is demonstrating a healthy willingness to change, innovate, and reshape its most cherished parts.

Rather than requiring users to press and hold their screens to view content, for instance, the service recently switched gears, and began letting them simply tap to view snaps and stories.

Industry experts applauded the move. “The CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, is doing something that everyone in business should learn to do: Be unromantic about how you make your money,” said VaynerMedia co-founder and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk. “He took a feature that was very specific and unique to Snapchat, and sacrificed it for what is best for the user.”

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Now, recognizing the limits of users’ data plans, Snapchat is rolling out Travel Mode -- a new feature that will prevent snaps and stories from downloading automatically. In Travel Mode, incoming messages have to be tapped before they can load.

The change comes amid a general perception that Snapchat’s app is a bit of a data hog. This is bad. More important, however, is the company’s proactive response to the problem, and a relatively rapid one at that.

At least for now, Snapchat is showing an awareness of what we can call the Twitter trap.

No wonder the company reportedly expects to take in $50 million in revenue this year, and upwards of $200 million next year.

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