Twitter emulates Snapchat, adds stickers feature for photos

Steven Loeb · June 27, 2016 · Short URL:

The company is also making stickers more social by making them searchable, like a hashtag

Facebook definitely saw the looming threat of Snapchat pretty early on, with offers to buy the service, and efforts to copy it. Twitter, on the other hand, seemed to be a bit slower to see the popularity and effect Snapchat would have. 

Now Snapchat has started to surpass Twitter in number of users, so what is the company to do? Try to emulate some of its features, while also using its own unique characteristics to make some of those features even better.

On Tuesday, Twitter introduced its new #Stickers feature, in which users will have access to a rotating set of stickers, which will include accessories, emoji, and props, that they can then add to their photos. The stickers can be resized and rotated to fit the photo. 

Snapchat already offers something similar, letting users add stickers and, most recently, animated emojis to their photos, but Twitter is taking it a step further, using the power of its network to add a more social element to the feature.

Twitter is letting users search for photos based on which sticker was used, basically turning stickers into something akin to a hashtag.

"After you Tweet a photo with stickers on it, your photo becomes searchable in a new, visual spin on the hashtag. Tapping on a sticker in a Tweet takes you to a new timeline, where you can see how people all over the world use that sticker in different ways," the company wrote. 

Stickers will be rolling out over the next few weeks on both iOS and Android. Reports of these features first surfaced in March

While stickers are a cool feature, it's unclear how much of an effect adding them will have on Twitter's user growth problems. 

In the first quarter of this year, Twitter saw its average monthly active users grow a mere 3 percent year-to-year to 310 million, and up only 1.6 percent from 305 million the quarter before. That was actually an improvement from its Q4 report, where user growth was either flat quarter-to-quarter, or possible even down, depending on how you looked at it.

Earlier this month it was reported that Snapchat has surpassed Twitter in the number of daily active users, with 150 million DAUs, compared to less than 140 million for Twitter. 

Snapchat is also expected to grow past both Twitter and Pinterest in total number of users this year, in this case a "user" meaning someone who logs in at least one time, every month, over the course of a year.

By that metric, Snapchat’s user base in the United States will increase by 27.2 percent this year, to a total of 58.6 million users, compared to 56.8 million for Twitter and 54.6 million for Pinterest. That will give Snapchat 31.6 percent of all social network users.

Maybe Twitter shouldn't feel too bad, though, as Facebook has also been the victim of Snapchat's big growth.

In April, Snapchat reached 10 billion video views a day, growing the number by 25 percent in one month, up from 8 million at the beginning of March. Facebook, by contrast, sees 8 billion video views a day. To be fair, the company has not updated the metric from the third quarter of 2015, and the most recent number is from November of last year. 

The most worrying sign for both companies is how quickly Snapchat has captured the youngest social media users. In April, for the first time, teens picked Snapchat as their top social network. I doubt there's any amount of new features that can reverse that trend. 

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