Ever since news broke about how photo-messaging company Snapchat refused a $US3 billion all-cash offer from Facebook, web pundits have been debating exactly how insane this was.
As we explained here, from the perspective of Snapchat insiders — executives and investors — it actually wasn’t “insane” at all. It was just bold. Snapchat insiders have a clear and huge vision of what the company can become. If Snapchat can achieve this vision, it will likely be worth much more than $US3 billion, if not another order of magnitude as much.
As John Herman of Buzzfeed observed yesterday, though, one reason analysts are struggling to understand Snapchat is that we don’t have much data on how the service is actually used.
All we know, Herman summarizes, is:
- Snapchat users collectively receive 400 million “Snaps” a day
- 88% of these ‘snaps’ are sent to just one other person
Analysts have been using this data to try to figure out how many active users Snapchat has. So far, some intelligent estimates (from Herman, TechCrunch, and others) range from 8 million to 40 million. All of those numbers are big. But, obviously, the more active Snapchat users there are the better in terms of the company’s ability to make its vision a reality.
Well, here’s one more data point to add to the mix.
A Snapchat insider tells us that the most active Snapchat users get “hundreds” of Snaps per day. When asked for a more refined number, the insider suggested that ~150 might be a good approximation.* The average active Snapchat user, meanwhile, the insider estimates, gets 20-50 Snaps per day. The average active user (teenagers), the insider says, now gets more “Snaps” than texts.
That’s a lot of Snaps.
Now, remember that one Snap can be sent to many people, so the average number of Snaps sent is likely lower than this. Also, as with any average usage number like this, the average is skewed by super-heavy users.
Also, the earliest Snapchat users are likely to be the heaviest Snapchat users. (People who are just desperate to send dozens of disappearing pictures to hundreds of friends are probably already on the service.) So, over time, the “average Snaps” numbers will probably decline.
But even if the median Snapchat user only gets, say, a dozen or a couple of dozen Snaps per day, that’s still a whole lot of Snaps. And it goes a long way to explaining why Snapchat insiders are so excited about the company’s long-term potential.
(When thinking about these numbers, remember that the primary Snapchat users are teenagers. Think about how many texts teenagers send to each other, and the numbers sound more conceivable. Especially when you consider that teenagers don’t generally use communications media that many adults use — like email. Most working adults, for example, get hundreds of emails per day.)
* NOTE: In an earlier post, I incorrectly reported that ~150 was the number of Snaps received by the average active Snapchat user, not the most active Snapchat users. I apologise for this mistake.