Breaking down Snapchat: the search for real numbers

by Feedback

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on a story that would eclipse the buzz surrounding the Twitter IPO. Snapchat, the unique photo messaging service, would be flung into the limelight by its rejection of a $3 billion USD acquisition offer from Facebook.

snapchat_100pxTraditionally, a startup’s value usually increases as it takes in more rounds of funding, ultimately leading up to an acquisition or an initial public offering. Acquisition offers, like Facebook’s offer for Snapchat, aren’t uncommon at this stage in a startup’s life especially when considering Snapchat’s success.

But how successful is it?

CNET compiled some of the known numbers about Snapchat and choice statistics from its supposedly rejected suitor, Facebook. Here’s a list of what’s been disclosed:

  • In June, Snapchat was getting about 200 million ‘snaps’ per day.
  • In September, Snapchat saw 350 million ‘snaps’ per day.
  • As of 19 November, Snapchat processes 400 million ‘snaps’ per day.
  • Business Insider reports that Facebook currently handles 350 million photos per day.
  • 88% of the 400 million ‘snaps’ were sent to one recipient.
  • Instagram reports that its users upload 55 million photos per day.

Some of these one-liner statistics are impressive. As much as an order of magnitude higher uploads per day over a service as heralded as Instagram? Undoubtedly noteworthy and in a way, it adds context to Facebook’s initial offer. Three times the price for a service that doesn’t have revenue with over eight times the amount of activity sure seems like a bargain for Facebook.

However, one particular number hasn’t been addressed, disclosed, or even reasonably estimated that could drastically change Snapchat’s valuation: a count of the Daily Active Users on Snapchat.

Using what limited information exists, TechCrunch published an article that includes a chart explaining the possible estimates based on how often a user submits ‘snaps’ to the service.

Assuming that, on average, active users create 2 or more ‘snaps’ per day, the number of users on the service is estimated to be 128 million DAUs, falling behind Instagram’s self-reported number of 150 million MAUs.

Even the estimated difference of roughly 32 million users hasn’t stopped some holding companies, like Chinese giant Tencent, from valuing Snapchat at an even higher price—around $4 billion USD. With the rejection of Facebook’s offer, the realistic price tag will only go up. Snapchat’s own CEO even stated that being acquired isn’t a priority for them at the moment, which has puzzled a few personalities with some strong soapboxes.

We wonder what the breaking point is for Snapchat. Are the detractors’ point about its younger user base not necessarily being a sign of a sustainable success valid? Or is Snapchat poised to join the growing group of quirky media-sharing startups? Could Tencent’s interest in the service suggest how it might create revenue in the future?

According to Business Insider’s latest exclusive report, we know the answer to the last question is yes. Services that focus on communicating on a more personal level like Line and Path have been adding micro-transaction based sticker packs and filters for photos, for instance, to create revenue streams, and the report suggests that Snapchat is experimenting with functionality along those lines in addition to exploring advertising on the service and publicizing an API.

There will be more number crunching and estimations that will be made in the coming weeks and months as Snapchat continues to grow, but with the latest report, we can expect more information coming from Snapchat in the future. Maybe Snapchat will disclose the elusive DAU/MAU number and the company’s value can be given a proper number. Perhaps not.

Feedback has more opinions on how Snapchat is representative of a larger trend of messaging that frankly the US is behind the curve of (see also: WeChat, Line, and others). More on this and our trip to Asia soon.

One thing we are certain of is that Snapchat isn’t showing signs of breaking down anytime soon.


Feedback’s Greatest Hits 2013, Vol 16

by Feedback

Here’s the social media news that caught our eye for the week ending on May 3, 2013!


Instagram Now Lets Anyone Tag You [Or Brands] In Photos, Adds Them To “Photos Of You” Profile Section

UK.Gov passes Instagram Act: all your pics are belong to everyone now

This may very well be a case of the Government is trying to free up businesses and enterprise by reducing legislation – but we also don’t want to underestimate the Internet’s ability to freak out… something to watch as it progresses to Parliament and the House of Lords.

Chat apps have overtaken SMS by message volume, but how big a disaster is that for carriers?

Another trend that has snuck by many watching the social and digital space.

Retwact: A Tool for Fixing twitter’s Misinformation Problem

“Retwact tries to contain the damage (and)shame that comes along with spreading information that later turns out to be untrue…”

Nielsen: Facebook Declining In U.S. And On Desktop

So — grain of sale time.

The switch to mobile makes sense. The 10 million “lost” from Facebook user numbers… is an awkward statement. Consider that there’s an average of 3 million people who die each year, another 3 million who emigrate from the US (who could still be on Facebook, just not using it IN the US), not to mention Facebook cracking down on users who are underage, fake and spam accounts — and are we talking about a certain amount of activity here? It’s hard to tell since Nielsen can’t confirm these “lost” people actually went anywhere — if they defected to other networks or… um… just died.

Point being — take any decline under 20 million with a grain of slat when we’re talking about a user base of over a billion…

Bud Light Offers Proof That Facebook Ads Work

Now we might not always recommend a case of Bud Light, but as a case study, it’s worth a look…

We post stories like these and our thoughts about them on our Twitter profile and Facebook page — be sure to follow us to get the latest!


Feedback’s Greatest Hits 2013, Vol 5

by Feedback

Acquisitions, advertising and adjustments galore this week!

Game Over: Twitter Mentioned in 50% of Super Bowl Commercials, Facebook Only 8%, Google+ Shut Out

Hmmm – now take this article with a massive, massive grain of salt — what “Marketingland” is declaring a consumer-behavior win on the back of what is actually advertising-agency behavior. (For all we know, it could be that these stat breakdowns actually reflect brand comfort-levels with these social media properties.)

‘Iron Man 3′ Lit Up Facebook During Super Bowl Blackout

Interesting look at realtime stats… (um, and Iron Man).

Why Twitter is Buying Bluefin – And Why Bluefin is Selling

Twitter makes a move to buy social TV analytics company Bluefin Labs – which sounds like a great idea up until you realize that they buy analytic companies about every quarter and generally smother them. (Et tu, Summize?)

UCAS Figures Show Appetite for Education and Change

Our friends at RDI have a great post on the changing UK education system!

Pew Study Finds Two-Thirds Of Facebook Users Have Taken A Multi-Week Break, 27% Plan To Reduce Time On The Site In 2013

This could have been a really, really interesting study – but instead it’s a weirdly (for Pew) under-powered set of observations from a tiny, tiny, fraction of users. If this was true on a large scale there’s so many other questions we’d ask like, “Where did they go?” or “What do they use now?” But this study of “internet users” was a telephone-survey of only 1,006 folks, most of which by landline phones, and conducted the week before Christmas. We’ll leave it to you to decide if that sounds fantastically representative of all Facebook users. Again – had this study had the size and quality we usually expect from Pew we’d be fascinated. Instead we’re left wondering why someone who has the time for a phone survey but not for social gets to grab the headlines.

Further Reading: Coming and Going on Facebook | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Instagram Launches Full Image Feed For Web Browsers, Including Commenting And Liking Functions


Suicide Girls founder launches mobile-first dating app Let’s Date in the US, backed by Science Inc.

Let’s Date uses Facebook Connect (and requires you have a minimum of 50 friends), Yelp and more to create a custom dating pool, suggested places for a date and more. The app-only interface aims to be the “Instagram of Dating” among its heavy competition.

Vine gets 17+ age rating, option to report users; finally enables social sharing after videos are posted

It’s hard to be excited about features that should have been obvious launch inclusions, but at least Vine is trying to grow up quickly.

Twitter Blog: Now showing: Older Tweets in search results

FINALLY: Twitter admits its search was shallow and begins to actively fix it.

We post these stories and more on our Facebook page and our Twitter account. Follow us to get our latest comments on the news as well as corporate announcements!


Feedback’s Greatest Hits 2013, Vol 4

by Feedback

Another week has passed and it was full of services publishing updates and upgrades to their products. Here’s a recap of what happened:

Pinterest is testing out a new look

Pinterest tweaks and updates their look in a new test.

Instagram Asking For Your Government Issued Photo IDs Now, Too

Er… We’re sure THIS will help people sleep at night after the recent Terms of Service fiasco.

Facebook app for iOS gets voice and video recording, voice message support and improved Nearby tab

Quite a few updates for the Facebook mobile app including uploading video natively, voice messaging and tweaks to “nearby” features.

Foursquare launches dedicated iPhone app for US businesses, with analytics, local updates and more

GREAT development for Foursquare brands!

Facebook: 500,000 Pages have used Promoted Posts, 70% become repeat advertisers

…but you do have to use them wisely to get the best results. Like any paid media, it takes research and savvy – but unlike many media buys, this one you can tweak on the fly as much as you like. It pays to pay close attention.

OpenTable acquires Foodspotting

OpenTable eats up foodie social tool Foodspotting… (add in a rimshot here).

As always, we use our Facebook page and our Twitter account to share the latest headlines. Be sure to follow us to always get our latest comments on the news!




by Feedback

Instagram, the photo sharing application, has become a popular platform for contests. From a marketing perspective, Instagram contests allow brands to interact with advocates and gather authentic real-time photos. From a user perspective, contests can provide new content ideas and a chance to win something on a platform they’re likely already using.

Read More »


Facebook: ‘We Bought A Social Network’

by Feedback

The technology news out today is bigtime: Instagram is being bought by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock, the Big Man announced today. It’s a development that has people (including us) wincing at what could become of the fun and simple photo-sharing service for iPhone and, as of last week, Android.

We wince only because Facebook and big companies before it have consistently proven their wonderful ability to run the companies they buy into the ground or shut them down and integrate the technologies into their own platforms.

But should we expect the same this go-’round?

This acquisition is the most notable one in the world of social media since Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, and YouTube is still around much like it was before the acquisition: independent and potentially even better than before, just part of the Google family of products.

We’d hope (and it would seem) that the Facebook-Instagram deal mirrors that of Google-YouTube. According to the post on Zuckerberg’s page, the company understands that it can destroy Instagram if it’s not careful:

“…we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”

So, to that end, some thoughts on what could become of both sides:

- Instagram isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Facebook is well aware that it has the ability and power to stupidly ruin a good thing, and it doesn’t want to do that. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom reiterates this message, too.

- Facebook users will probably get Instagram filters and better editing features at some point, so prepare to see more pictures of your friend’s kids, only with various filters and blurry parts.

- This could mean the first real domino in Facebook rolling out tags for photos, giving the standardization of tagging huge legs for the future.

- You have to wonder if the Instagram “Heart” will become a Facebook “Thumbs up.”

- Facebook is already the No. 1 photo upload site on the Internet, and this purchase will only strengthen its position there over rivals such as Google+. This could potentially hurt Twitter, too, though Instagram allows for sharing on that site and will continue to do so. Too early to tell.

- It could also mean a death blow to Flickr, which, while popular with photographers, you hear less and less of over time. It’s just not as social and doesn’t have the traffic or mobile friendliness. (And there are other services besides Flickr, as well.)

- It’s likely any real significant development from this won’t be visible for a year or more, but you may see some early tweaks to image sharing on both sides in the first six months.

More than likely, the most notable change to Instagram will be for the founders themselves, who are joining Facebook under terms of the deal: After two years out on their own, they now have bosses.


Now Taking Subscriptions

by Feedback

The word “subscribe” is about to enter your daily vernacular with the addition of a new feature on Facebook that will allow users to better personalize their online experience.

Facebook has unveiled – in an attempt to curb the growth and keep up with features of Twitter, Google+ and others like it – a feature called “Subscribe,” which will allow Facebook users to, well, subscribe to the news of others. You’ll be able to begin hand-picking the content you want to view on your wall, thus fine-tuning the Facebook experience to your liking instead of having to see the somewhat random mess of updates from an array of people.

Subscribe is completely optional; if you don’t use it, Facebook will continue to run as it always does.

But for those who choose to use Subscribe, the benefits could be many. Like Twitter, instead of “friending” a celebrity or someone you’re really not friends with but are otherwise interested in, Subscribing will let you simply follow their updates (provided the person allows subscribers) without getting all their personal details. Subscribe means that popular or up-and-coming performers, writers, singers or comedians will see their stars shine a bit brighter. Self-proclaimed social media gurus will begin to measure their self-worth on the number of Subscribers they have. And you may find yourself with people you truly don’t know who are interested in what you have to share.

Subscribing may be the answer to keeping people on Facebook while tightening the experience to meet the demands of what people are looking for in today’s social networks: greater control, a more personalized experience, and a reason to stay at Facebook instead of another service: the people.

Facebook, unlike the rash of other services available, already has the critical mass. Yet if you take the pulse of savvy web users and even everyday Facebook users, you’ll hear stories of Facebook fatigue, the desire for more control over content, the need for privacy, or simply that they’ve done everything they can do on the site and are moving on. And while it is still growing, that growth is perhaps slowing (even dropping by 6 million users in May, Inside Facebook reports). It’s no death knell, but it could be telling.

For these reasons, we’re seeing more niche, focused communities pop up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Path and other platforms. They are more private, and the people on them more difficult to find.

This “privitization” of social networks is a trend we’ve been watching closely. And Facebook is about to board this train in a big way.

Not all of this is new, revolutionary or mind-blowing. But Facebook Subscribe is a bit of a mind-blower when you apply what this is and does to the masses of the social network, the paradigms in play in digital media, and the ever-increasing complexity of the modern identity.

Does it mean everyone will use and understand Subscribing right out of the gate? No, but its very existence is a product of some other trends and thoughts. For months (which is how we count technology time) people have been organizing their lives into separate places: Twitter for public thoughts, Tumblr as an extension of that community or to share personal interests with others, photo-sharing apps like Path or Instagram to share slice-of-life pictures and video.

Up until now, Facebook wasn’t really adequate in separating content as well as simple privacy. But with Subscribing, now even the non-savvy can start stratifying in new ways. People will share more, and less. Lives will take new shapes to certain people. And therefore, so will identities.

The layers of social soil just got more interesting for your garden.



by Feedback

Few social services have risen as quickly to the level of Instagram, the photo sharing app for iPhone (and Android at some point) that has grown to more than 3 million users in the seven months of its existence.

Read More »


Will Facebook Die?

by Feedback

Note: This is the first of many posts by the newest Feedbacker, Jeff Kelley.

Will Facebook die? It’s a question I get a lot. Perhaps because I’m a blogger and have a Twitter account and know cool techy tricks like how to turn off Google SafeSearch and I work for a company that makes its living doing work online, and therefore I’m supposed to know these things. Quite honestly, you’d be better off asking me if I’d one day like to own a grenade launcher, as I could give you a definitive answer: “Absolutely.”

Instagram is like Twitter for photos. Available on the iPhone.

But I do not possess such a weapon yet, and regarding Facebook’s death, all I have is an opinion. And my opinion is that Facebook will go away, and probably sometime in the next few years. But what will be left behind are the communities, concepts and connections that Facebook has created (all FarmVille farms will perish, though, hopefully by plague).

The problem for Facebook is that its best features – the features that are most widely used – are being copied and made better by other developers. You can go to places besides Facebook to talk to old friends, meet new ones, find upcoming events, discover new links, look at photos of folks, and – most importantly – stalk people you think are attractive. You just have to use multiple services to do it. Facebook is really the only place that people are going to do all that stuff in one place.

Tumblr, which many people don't realize has a very social backend.

We are fast approaching an era when people will be able to customize their online experience with a variety of social networking services instead of just one big one. To put it one way: You can shop at Walmart for everything, or take an extra few minutes and visit a bunch of cooler, smaller shops.

At Feedback, we’re already seeing signs of Facebook’s great unraveling. Know when bands become “too” popular? Even the original fans start to pull away. We’re looking at you, Dave Matthews Band.

If you cut past the movie reviews and privacy issues and research what’s being said about Facebook on a grassroots level, you’ll hear from serious web users who balk at Facebook for being too mainstream. That there are too many people on it. That there are an array of better services to use to network online. That there’s too much noise on Facebook. Complaints about grammar. About too much information. And enough with the baby pictures or photos of that giant new engagement ring.

RSVPhere is a cool events site that merges hard copy invites with the online world. It's also Richmond based.

Many people, while still keeping their Facebook accounts as a sort of abandoned online home (think MySpace three years ago), are turning to less-mainstream networking services such as Twitter, Tumblr or a mix of other apps and tools found on iPhones or Droids or BlackBerrys. Games made popular on Facebook because of the social aspects can now also be played on increasingly faster and better mobile devices, and with other people. Facebook’s Events feature (which has largely become an annoyance: “Come to my DJ party 12 states away!”) are made more personal and less obnoxious through Eventbrite or, the latter of which essentially allows you to create, for free, a little microblog for your event. People can RSVP through the site, and events stay a bit more private than they would on Facebook. Plus, it’s easy to use. turns links from your Twitter feed into a newspaper/blog-like format

You can share links and articles through a cool newspaper-like service called Paper.Li. A neat photo-sharing app for iPhone called Instagram is basically Twitter with pictures. Tumblr is the latest social media media darling. You can even add the location where you took the photo.

There are hundreds of these types of services. Many will fail. Some will not. And those are the ones that you will combine together as you desire, eventually bringing Facebook to its knees. That sentence was way too overly dramatic.

Facebook is already failing in some of its offerings. It may be too soon to call its Places location feature a dud, but Foursquare is doing a much better job of alerting burglars to empty homes.

You've probably gotten an invite from here before. of these invites before.

Now, enough hate on Facebook. Let’s be real: It’s a great thing. It’s fun. It has enormous use in the business world. It connects people to companies and brands to the masses. It’s a lead generator for everything to music to movies to news articles or those neat-o things on the Internet. Facebook has a long time to go before it’s gone, even by technology standards.

Whether Facebook is here to stay depends on how well it can respond to the growing market of individual services that can do the same things it does, and how people will use those services to create their own experiences. If that’s the case, Facebook may be to social media to what the Model-T was for the automobile.

-Jeff (@jeffkelleyrva, or @jephkelley for the lighter side)