Comedian Hannah Stocking, who first gained fame on Vine, made $30,000 in just three days by posting only to the photo-sharing app Snapchat. She made $14,000 one day and $2,000 the next. This is due to the fact that she is participating in the platform’s advertising revenue share program (currently in beta testing), which is responsible for making Snap Stories lucrative for A-listers.
Snap’s payouts have made it a preferred platform for many prominent creators and, the company believes, could be a powerful leveler in its competition with TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
As a professional creator for the past decade, Stocking has found Snap’s revenue-sharing program to be eye-opening. He has only been using the app for the past eight months.
“I never really knew Snapchat could be lucrative,” says Stocking, who has 935,000 Snap followers in addition to 24 million Instagram followers, 9 million YouTube subscribers, and 28 million TikTok viewers. Snap has become her most profitable and preferred social media platform due to the short video clips she posts to its Stories, which include both sketches (such as Stocking walking a camel down the street in her pajamas) and raw content (such as Stocking opening doors with a guffaw).
“Snapchat is mainly just having a good time with friends,” one user said, “and I think because there’s so much negativity in the world, that kids go online to get away from that, and look to their favorite creator, and want to be part of their life as a source of happiness and laughter.”
What makes money from Snap?
Stocking makes money from Snap because she is a member of the company’s ad revenue share program for “Snap Stars,” or celebrities with a large online following. The program, which was introduced in 2022 and is still in beta, has inspired some of the world’s most well-known creators, including Stocking, David Dobrik, Charli, and Dixie D’Amelio, to devote resources to creating exclusive content for Snap. Despite having 362,000 Snap followers, Adam Waheed also has 11 million YouTube subscribers, 5.1 million Instagram followers, and 18.8 million TikTok viewers. “All the big creators—everyone is talking about Snapchat; it’s literally the talk of the town because of the insane engagement and insane monetization,” Waheed says.
There have been some early successes with Snap Stars, and other social platforms are experimenting with and rethinking their creator monetization strategies as a result. Instagram has “winded down” its NFT program, which allows users to mint and sell NFTs on Instagram for sharing across Meta platforms, and has also stopped paying “bonus” payouts to Reels creators.
(The business claims it is shifting its attention to “other monetization products” that “scale faster and prove more sustainable outcomes over the long term.”) Fortune reported that some creators who participated in TikTok’s advertising revenue-share program for top creators, called TikTok Pulse, made less than $5 per month. Because of its Chinese ownership, there is a substantial risk that the United States government will restrict or outright ban the company’s operations within the country.
Top creators are an invaluable asset for Snap, whose 375 million DAUs and $17 billion market cap are dwarfed by its rivals like Meta’s $515 billion market cap and nearly 3 billion users across its family of apps and YouTube’s (owned by $1.2 trillion Alphabet) more than 1 billion daily users on Google alone.
Opportunity for Snap
An opportunity exists for Snap “if they can stay focused and leverage what they have going on with creators,” says Arthur W. Wood managing director Paul Rodriguez. The Metaverse, WhatsApp, and Reels are just a few of Meta’s other main interests. I believe TikTok’s existence in this market will be severely tested in the near future. This leaves YouTube and Snap, but YouTube’s parent company is dealing with its own issues since the introduction of ChatGPT has disrupted the company’s core search business.
A Snap representative declined to comment on the revenue split with Snap Stars, but an insider said it was 50/50. Once a Snap creator reaches 1,000 crystals or $100 in earnings, they are eligible to receive payment in crystals at a rate of about $1 to 10 crystals.
Snap recognizes that it hasn’t always been front and center when people discuss the creator economy. Snap’s director of global talent partnerships, Jim Shepherd, says that the company is often overlooked when considering opportunities in the creator economy because Snapchat’s content ecosystem is based on a camera-first communication tool. “We tend to fly under the radar, but I believe that we have been quietly building a very meaningful ecosystem for creators to build their businesses on our platform over the last year to two.”
Creator Stories Grew by 10%
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel reported in January during the company’s quarterly conference call that user engagement with creator stories grew 10% year over year in the final three months of 2022. Snap’s advertising revenue is still being affected by Apple’s iPhone privacy changes (Snap revenue in Q4 was flat year over year), so the company is looking to the creator revenue-sharing program as a means to expand its available advertising space.
Advertisements appear in Snap Stories approximately every 18 to 45 seconds, according to data compiled by Fortune. These commercials are offered by well-known corporations like Adobe, DoorDash, and Amazon. This frequency is significantly higher than the minute-or-more intervals between ads that users experience when browsing their news feeds or watching videos on social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.
There will be fewer constraints on content production.
To add to the high payouts, Fortune reports that top creators favor Snap because of how simple it is to make Stories on the platform. “Snapchat stories are like the raw experience of someone’s day,” says David Dobrik, who has 7.3 million Snap followers, 26.2 million YouTube subscribers, 11.3 million Instagram followers, and 26.3 million TikTok fans. “It’s a huge relief from the burden of originality.”
If Snap can keep its creators on board, it might be able to convince its massive user base to start using Snap more frequently.
Dobrik, like Stocking, got his start as a creator on Vine and is now one of the highest-paid YouTubers in the world, with a 2020 Forbes estimate of $15.5 million. Due to the time commitment involved in coming up with new ideas and putting them into action, he says many creators find it necessary to find alternative employment. He says that a common theme among social media users and YouTube creators is burnout. Having never experienced that, I can say with certainty that “Snap is so fucking easy,” which is why I’ve never had any doubts about it.
Creators are attracted to Snap because of the platform’s dedication to them, in addition to the platform’s user-friendliness and financial rewards. A Snapchat investor for only about three weeks, Adam Waheed has 5.1 million Instagram followers, 11.6 million YouTube subscribers, and 18.8 million TikTok fans (and is rumored to be dating Stocking). His relationship with his Snap representative, Brooke Berry, is a big reason why he now considers Snap to be his favorite platform and why he makes an estimated $1,500 daily from ad revenue-sharing. In contrast to “certain platforms, you have to email them,” he says, “Text me whenever” when using the BlackBerry platform. Instead of being impersonal like, “Hey, just go on there and post and make us money,” using Snap “feels very personal.”