Here’s what people are actually doing on Snapchat

Talking to friends.
Talking to friends.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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To boost usage, Snapchat has expanded into news and entertainment with its Discover platform, beefed up its voice-calling capabilities, and this year it launched Snap Map, which lets users see friends’ locations.

How much people use these features has been a mystery, but the Daily Beast got its hands on five months of confidential metrics for features including Snap Map, Discover, Memories, Geofilters, Lenses, Chat, Audio, and Stories, as well as reports on how people spend time in the app, the number of snaps created versus posted, and the geographic breakdown of Snapchat users.

The data—spanning April to late September last year, when some features like maps were only just getting off the ground—suggests that, for all the new bells and whistles, Snapchat is mostly used to message friends.


In August, Snapchat users were 64% more likely to send a snap to a friend than post to Stories, the Daily Beast reported. They sent 34 chat messages per day, on average. Many of those messages were photos.


Just 20% of Snapchat users, on average, consumed content from a Discover Edition daily, based on the data reviewed by the Daily Beast. “Editions” are magazine-style stories made specifically for Snapchat by news organizations and featured daily in the Discover section of the app.

More than 40 publishers, like Buzzfeed and Vogue, have created editions in the hopes of reaching Snapchat’s 178 million daily active users. Users for the Discover Edition peaked on July 24 with 38 million daily active users, or 21% of the overall user base, during the five months the Daily Beast reviewed.


New innovations like Snap Map isn’t taking off, either. About 19 million users on average checked Snap Map daily during the month of September, which was 11% of the app’s total daily user base.

Overall, daily user growth has slowed at Snapchat, and driven parent company Snap’s share price below its $17 initial-offering price, to around $14.18 at the time of this writing.

The company is preparing to release a major Snapchat redesign that will separate users’ friends from the brands that publish content with the app. That has some advertisers worried that they’ll miss out on opportunities to connect with users. But it could also bring the focus back to reason people use Snapchat: to communicate with friends.

Snap declined to comment.