Snapchat’s Growth Relatively Unaffected By Hacking Incident Early This Year
It appears that the bad publicity endured by Snapchat had little to no impact over the photo messaging network's growth and popularity. Early this year, the social media network hit some controversy when thousands of Snapchat accounts were discovered hacked, causing about 200,000 user photos to be leaked online.
Snapchat's response to the incident was a bit controversial too. The company put the blame on third party app developers which it claimed reverse-engineered the Snapchat application program interface (API). By doing so, Snapchat essentially also pointed the finger at its end users (who were ultimately the real victims) for putting themselves at risk of hacking by using third party Snapchat apps.
But despite the hacking incident, and the company's not too graceful handling of the situation, Snapchat does not seem like it was severely affected by the negative PR.
As a matter of fact, in the United States, the number of Snapchat's active users per month remained relatively flat on Android. Quite interestingly, the number has actually increased on iOS, especially in the days and weeks following the hacking incident, according to information provided by analytics firm 7Park.
News of the Swapchat hacks first surfaced in early October of this year. Days after the hacking, several mainstream publications had covered the incident, even extending their coverage for weeks. During this time, one would normally expect that users would be more wary of using Snapchat, or even decide on stopping completely.
But surprisingly, that did not happen. From October 5th to October 11th, the percentage of active Snapchat users per month in the US who launched the Snapchat app was still remarkably high, which means that despite the bad things that were happening, customer engagement was still there. On Android, 56 percent of users used the Snapchat app that week, while on iOS, 82.1 percent did the same.
Throughout the succeeding week ending on October 18th, Android's percentage had slightly dropped to 85.8 percent, while on iOS, it increased to 86.4 percent. By the time a whole month had passed (ending November 22nd), the numbers experienced a general increase (89.4 percent for Android, 87.7 percent for iOS).
Even as the news of the hacking spread all over, it turned out that users continued to open Snapchat, and at a much longer average time. As of the week ending November 22nd, active users spent 66.03 minutes using Snapchat every week across 89.71 sessions (averaging 0.71 minutes per session). That's a significant improvement over last year's numbers, which is 48.59 minutes across 75.96 sessions (each session averaging 034 minutes).
And in terms of app store rankings, Snapchat has stayed hot. It remains in the top ten among iTunes's Photo and Video rankings and Overall rankings. On Google Play, it is in the top ten in the Social and Overall rankings.
There is no clear explanation as to why Snapchat remains a hit despite the bad publicity. Of course, it is quite possible that users were smart enough this time to look beyond the controversy and focus instead on what makes Snapchat good.