Snapchat has been dubbed the hottest social media messaging service out there, but it’s possible that hype won’t last.
The app has seen growth and adoption in mainstream marketing, but it’s also one of the smaller players in social media messaging.
Snapchat’s success stemmed from its incredible startup story—it declined a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013. Additionally, users like it because it employs temporary content, whereas the majority of other services make users’ content available indefinitely. Snapchats can disappear, hence its memorable ghost logo.
The app is surviving because of buzz from bloggers and journalists. To see long-term growth and stability, though, Snapchat must mature from its purely fun, trendy image.
Many marketers say advertising on the platform requires giving up content control and can be confusing because of the brand’s lacking identity. Right now, the brand is somewhere between a messaging app and a media hub, but it’s not excelling in either realm.
Other messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE are driving amazing growth. WhatsApp reached the 1 billion user mark in February, and Messenger—Facebook’s messaging service—also is nearing 1 billion users.
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Data from Appannie suggests that Snapchat is beaten out by WhatsApp and Messenger in nearly every market on both iOS (Apple software) and Android. This gap will probably widen within six months.
Snapchat could be a serious threat to other social media networks if it focused on “real discovery,” or creating discovery features for searchable content. Its current discover tab is a great feature for publishers to create content, videos and articles, but that type of curation can’t be its entire future.
In order to be a serious contender as the go-to messaging platform and keep itself in the media spotlight, Snapchat must offer users more substantive content features and determine its identity. It’s a great platform for now, but if it doesn’t evolve, it might just vanish, too.
Jan Rezab is the founder and chairman of Socialbakers , a social media analytics company. A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.