After previewing its coming "Creator Profiles" at the recent Snap Partner Summit, some users have now reported seeing the new format of profile in the app, with influencers being given a different layout that appears when you tap on their profile name and/or image.
As you can see, the Creator Profile comes with a custom image (not a Bitmoji character), while there's also a separate panel with a description field, providing more opportunity for the creator to share details about his or herself.
This example was shared by Everything Snap on Twitter (and distributed by social media expert Matt Navarra), and while it may not look like much, it is significant in the fact that it provides platform influencers with their own, special features, which is an area that Snap has long neglected, and, at different times, has sought to rectify.
Over the course of its existence, Snapchat has, for the most part, insisted that influencers should not get special treatment. Snap's mission is to connect friends, and in that respect, it's put a premium on "authenticity", and treating everyone equally, regardless of their perceived status. This is a difference in approach to other social platforms, which have essentially become popularity contests - Snapchat wanted to buck this trend and bring social media back to its roots, i.e. connecting people, irrespective of status.
That's why there are no follower counts, no likes. Snapchat gained significant momentum by being the "anti-Facebook", by taking a fresh approach to social media usage and moving away from those elements that had become so dominant on other platforms.
It makes sense, but over time, Snap's neglect of influencers has become problematic. For prominent users, social media has become their job, its how they grow their personal brands, forge revenue partnerships and expand their footprint. That's difficult to do on Snap - but it's not so difficult to do on, say, Instagram. And when Instagram introduced Stories, which replicates many Snapchat features, and Instagram also opened its doors to influencers, giving them the special treatment they needed to expand their efforts, many migrated over, taking their sizeable audiences with them.
Snap's approach is noble, but it's not as conducive to business. And when you consider that each of these influencers have built very large, dedicated followings, you can see how Snap's intentional lack of focus on them could become an issue, in terms of platform usage.
Indeed, in 2017, a year after the launch of Instagram Stories, research showed that top influencers were posting 33% less to Snapchat, and 14% more to Stories. And if Snap needed further evidence of the impact of influential users, in February 2018, after Kylie Jenner tweeted this:
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad.— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
Snap stock fell more than 6%. Kylie Jenner, is a special case, of course, a mega-celebrity for younger audiences, but still, the incidents showed that if Snap wanted to maintain its "influencers are just like everyone else" approach, it would run the risk of losing them - and the impacts of such could be significant.
Since then, Snap has tried to build bridges, and establish better connection with influential users. It rolled out insights data for verified accounts and other high-profile creators, added new link options so selected users could refer their followers to their websites and other sources, and even ran a three-month incubator - called "Yellow" - which provided, according to Digiday, "mentorship, networking events and access to partnerships with Snapchat itself as well as Snapchat Discover partners".
And yet, even with these new initiatives, and the promise to offer new monetization options and tools for creators, many say that their opportunities are still limited - Snap still has a way to go to make its platform an attractive, long-term proposition for influential users. And worth noting, Snapchat's daily active user count declined by 5 million over the past year, and projections for future growth are not great.
The Creator Profiles are another way that Snap could look to improve on this front. At the Snap Partner Summit, the company showcased how Creator Profiles would be used to better promote digital artists who post new Lenses and visual tools.
This new iteration appears to show that Snap's looking to expand the same to other prominent users.
As noted, it may not seem like much, but this is a critical element for Snapchat's future growth. Snapchat needs to improve on this front - and evidence would suggest that it is - but with other platforms offering better, more evolved influencer programs, Snap needs to work harder to maintain better connection, and provide improved opportunities.
This is a key area to watch as Snapchat looks to reverse its user declines.