Snapchat has published its third annual ‘CitizenSnap Report’, which outlines how the company is progressing towards its various environmental, social, and governance goals, and how it’s also looking to contribute to key aspects of growth and development, to benefit the planet.
As per Snap:
“At Snap, our mission is to contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. Snap is built around our core values of being kind, smart, and creative. From the beginning, we have designed these values into our products and into the way we treat our team, our communities, and our partners. And as we evolve and grow, we hold steadfast in upholding our mission and our values, never losing sight of our foundation.”
The 113-page report is a lot to take in, with a heap of insights and stats on Snap’s performance, and it’s interesting to note the depth of data available on these key goals for the company.
You can download the full 2022 CitizenSnap Report here, but in this post, we’ll take a look at some of the key notes.
First off, within its Executive Summary, Snap provides an overview of the various initiatives that it’s undertaking to address each pillar of its global citizenship plan.
Those pillars relate to four key elements: Society, Planet, People, and Governance.
The report looks at how Snap’s addressing each aspect, with specific highlights on certain elements that have seen bigger impact over the past year.
That includes Snap’s ‘Run for Office’ electoral engagement push, which has helped to improve civic engagement among younger audiences.
Snap also provides in-depth breakdowns of its performance stats on each aspect, including a full track of its carbon emissions.
While it also shares an overview of general usage and impact data, highlighting its reach and scope.
Overall, Snap appears to be progressing towards its longer-term goals on each element, though its efforts may be hampered slightly by more recent revenue impacts, which prompted it to warn the market of lower than projected earnings in Q2 2022.
Snap will slow down hiring as a result, and you would assume that some of these initiatives will see some impact as the company tightens costs, and works to keep its revenue targets in sight.
Even so, it’s good to see Snap taking its commitments seriously, and building a broader, systematic process to help address these key goals.
You can download the full 2022 CitizenSnap Report here.
TikTok Scales Back Live-Stream Commerce Ambitions, Which Could Be a Big Blow for the App
TikTok’s facing a significant reassessment in its business expansion plans, with the company forced to scale back its live eCommerce initiative in Europe and the US due to operational challenges and lack of consumer interest.
TikTok has been working to integrate live-stream shopping after seeing major success with the option in the Chinese version of the app. But its initial efforts in the UK have been hampered by various problems.
As reported by The Financial Times:
“TikTok had planned to launch the feature in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year, before expanding into the US later in 2022, according to several people briefed on the matter. But the expansion plans have been dropped after the UK project failed to meet targets and influencers dropped out of the scheme, three people said.”
TikTok has since refuted some of FT’s claims, saying that the reported timeline for its commerce push is incorrect, and that it’s focused on fixing problems with its UK operation before expanding, which is still in its roadmap. But the basis – that its program is not going as smoothly as planned – is correct.
TikTok’s UK shopping push has also faced internal problems due to conflicts over working culture and management.
Last month, reports surfaced that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had been imposing tough conditions on its UK commerce staff, including regular 12-hour days, improbable sales targets, and questions over entitlements.
Now, it seems like the combination of challenges has led to a new growth dilemma for the app – which once again underlines the variance between Asian and western app usage trends.
Social media and messaging apps have become a central element of day-to-day life in several Asian countries, with apps like China’s WeChat and QQ now used for everything from purchasing train tickets to paying bills, to buying groceries, banking, and everything in between.
That spells opportunity for western social media providers, with Meta, in particular, looking to use the Chinese model as a template to help it translate the popularity of WhatsApp and Messenger into even more ubiquitous, more valuable functionality, which could then make them critical connective tools in various markets, solidifying Meta’s market presence.
But for various reasons, Chinese messaging trends have never translated to other markets.
Meta’s Messenger Bots push in 2016 failed to gain traction, and after its Messenger app became ‘too cluttered’ with an ever-expanding range of functionalities, including games, shopping, Stories, and more, Meta eventually scaled back its messaging expansion plans, in favor of keeping the app aligned with its core use case.
Meta then turned to WhatsApp, and making messaging a more critical process in developing markets like India and Indonesia. That expansion is still ongoing, but the signs, at present, don’t suggest that WhatsApp will ever reach the same level of ubiquity that Chinese messaging apps have.
Which then leads to TikTok, the world-beating short-form video app, which has seen massive growth in China, leading to whole new business opportunities, and even market sectors, based on how Chinese users have adapted to in-app commerce.
The Chinese version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, generated $119 billion worth of product sales via live broadcasts in 2021, an 7x increase year-over-year, while the number of users engaging with eCommerce live-streams exceeded 384 million, close to half of the platform’s user base.
Given this, you can see why TikTok would view this as a key opportunity in other markets as well – but as noted, Chinese market trends are not always a great proxy for other regions.
The decision to scale back its eCommerce ambitions is a significant blow to TikTok’s expansion plans, not only from a broader revenue perspective (and worth noting, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance recently cut staff due to ongoing revenue pressures), but also in regards to revenue share, and providing a pathway for creators to make money from their efforts in the app.
Unlike YouTube, TikTok clips are too short to add mid and pre-roll ads, which means that creators can’t simply switch on ads to make money from their content. That means that they need to organize brand partnerships to generate income, and on Douyin, in-stream commerce has become the key pathway to exactly that.
Without in-stream product integrations as an option, that will significantly limit creator earnings capacity in the app, which could eventually see them switch focus to other platforms, where they can more effectively monetize their output.
Which may not seem like a major risk, but that’s exact what killed Vine, when Vine creators called for a bigger share of the app’s revenue, then switched to Instagram and YouTube instead when Vine’s parent company Twitter refused to provide such.
Could TikTok eventually face a similar fate?
TikTok, of course, is much bigger than Vine ever was, and is still growing. But limited monetization opportunities could end up being a big challenge for the app – while it also continues to face scrutiny over its impact on youngsters, and the potential for it to be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese Government.
In isolation, it may not seem like a major move, scaling back its eCommerce ambitions just slightly as it reassesses the best approach. But it’s a significant shift, which will slow down TikTok’s broader expansion. And it could end up hurting the app more than you, initially, would think.
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