🎯 Snap Map: Making location social

A playbook for consumer network effects

Read time: 2 minutes 10 seconds

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“The feed was probably the biggest innovation in social media of late. But the interesting thing about the feed is that the more content you consume, the farther in time you go.”

Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc.

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Snap Map: Making location social

Chess Move

The what: A TLDR explanation of the strategy

Tech history is overflowing with unicorn consumer tech products following a repeatable pattern:

💡 Strategy Playbook: Emerging software surface + [native social mechanics] = business with network effects

Profiles + [feed, posts, groups] = Facebook

Photos + [followers, likes, stories] = Instagram

Mobile + [direct messages, group chats] = WhatsApp

Video + [channels, subscribers, comments] = YouTube

Aggregated content + [communities, karma, upvotes] = Reddit

Snapchat’s ‘Snap Map’ is history’s best example of ‘Location + [native social mechanics]’

Breakdown

The how: The strategic playbook boiled down to 3x key takeaways

1: Surface synergy with core product

Once Snap Map went live, it was discovered that Snapchat had secretly acquired Zenly: an app that let users see where their friends currently are, and message them to hang out.

Snap Map’s launch featured several innovative integrations between Zenly’s tech and Snap’s core offerings:

  • See your friends’ location as a ‘Bitmoji’ on a map, and chat with them directly

  • Post stories publicly to ‘Our Story’ - a collection of temporary Snaps, grouped by geolocation, that anyone can view

  • Discover stories through a ‘Heat Map’ which aggregates Snaps in a concentrated area from e.g. a big event or concert

2: FOMO drives repeat engagement

Other successful location-based products typically solved a specific use case, after which a user would disengage.

  • Google Maps: Get directions to your destination, then stop using

  • Messenger Live Location: Physically locate your friend IRL, then stop using

Snapchat’s incorporation of native social features to a ‘Location’ surface created a different paradigm:

  • Snap Map: Repeatedly check a map throughout the day in search for connection and content

3: Where there’s attention, there’s value

Ultimately, Snap Map got users creating more Snaps and more Stories.

The more Snaps and Stories users made, the more other users watched.

The more they watched, the more ads Snapchat could display.

On top of this, Snap Map’s subsequent roadmap of enhancements increased user retention and added new monetisation levers:

Rabbit Hole

The where: 3x high-signal resources to learn more

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