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Yolo, Hoop & Co .: How Snapchat catapults new apps to the top of the app store

Snap actually wanted to inspire new users with its “Snap Kit” developer platform - by making popular Snapchat elements such as Bitmoji or Stories appear in other apps. Resourceful developers are now using the tools to generate millions of downloads for their apps that have been produced with little effort. Snapchat's viral mechanisms help with this. We explain the phenomenon and show examples.

In mid-2018, Snap will launch the Snap Kit developer platform. Since then, app developers have been able to offer a login with Snapchat data (similar to the Facebook login), integrate Bitmojis (the comic avatars), embed Snapchat stories in their own app and advertise via the Snap Audience Network. At the start, Tinder (Bitmoji in Chats), Patreon (stories by Creatorn in the Patreon app), the second-hand app Poshmark (stickers with Poshmark offers of the user in Snapchat) and other apps were there.

The Snapchat features developers can build into their apps with Snap Kit

Snap's goal: to make users of these apps want to use Snapchat functions and thus win them over to their own platform. Since the introduction of Snap Kit, app developers have been able to build apps based on Snapchat functions with little effort - and the power of the more than 200 million daily active users of the platform to generate downloads for their own app.

Yolo: An app without many functions jumps to the top of the app store

The first app that caused a stir with the strategy is Yolo. We had already briefly introduced the app at the end of October 2019. With Yolo, users can use a sticker to ask their friends and followers in Snapchat Stories to send them questions anonymously. By swiping up, users land in Yolo and can ask questions there. If you get questions, you can use your answers to create stickers and then share them on Snapchat.

The functions of Yolo - from question stickers to Bitmoji chat

According to analysis tool provider App Annie, Yolo was one of the fastest growing social apps in countries like the UK, the US and Canada last year. According to the analysis tool Priori Data, the app has been downloaded almost 20 million times on iOS and 5.2 million downloads on Android. For a short time, in May 2019, Yolo landed at number 1 on the app store charts in the USA. Since then, the app has made it into the top 5 in the social category and is currently ranked 36th of all free apps in the US app store.

On the reach wave of Snapchat

Where does the steep rise of the simple app come from? Yolo is completely dependent on the reach of Snapchat. If you want to create the sticker for asking questions, you need Yolo. The user logs in there with his Snapchat login data, name and Bitmoji are automatically transferred. Snap emphasizes that no personal data is shared with the app developers. This is exactly the route taken by all users who see the Yolo question sticker on Snapchat and want to ask a question. You swipe up, land on the Yolo installation, log in with Snapchat and off you go. So the attention is automatically multiplied by Snapchat Stories.

“Success wasn't planned. We just wanted to learn from it, ”said Yolo founder Gregoire Henrion to Techcrunch. “Just go to the App Store and see what happens. It went 100 percent viral, totally insane. We couldn't believe that the app landed at number 1 in the App Store. "The growth works completely organically, according to the founder:" I no longer believe in fake growth. We put the app in the store, people looked for Yolo and then it started. ”Henrion attributes the explosion in reach in part to the simplicity of the name. However, the viral effect through Snapchat is likely to have helped much more.

The founder now wants to build new functions to keep users engaged in the long term. Since the start, a chat feature has been added that allows users to start group chats with their Snapchat contacts. The special thing about it: Only Bitmojis, but no names, are visible in the chat history. Users can also invite their friends to these chats using a Snapchat story sticker. It is not yet clear how the makers of Yolo want to monetize the reach of millions. There is still a chance. The app still records a million downloads per month - on iOS alone.

Hoop: Tinder for the Snap Generation

The latest example of Snapchat's viral power is Hoop. According to the small French development team, the app had been downloaded over 2.5 million times within a week at the end of January. The hoop catapulted to number 2 in the US app store. Hoop is also closely linked to Snapchat and built on Snap Kit. Users can see pictures of other Snapchat users and either continue typing in Tinder style or request the Snap contact. It's also extremely quick to get started with Hoop. Simply log in with Snap and the first sample images will appear. Before the right start, however, the app asks for age, gender, sexuality and wants to be fed with more photos.

Hoop is Snapchat-style Tinder

The hoop makers seem to be much more systematic than Yolo when it comes to monetization. They use diamonds as an in-app currency. And that is always due. Each letter from another user costs diamonds, so that after about ten inquiries, the digital wallet is already ebb. You can earn new diamonds by sharing a download link with friends, but also by watching a promotional video, answering surveys or taking out an Amazon Prime trial subscription. A review in the App Store also promises a supply of diamonds, although Apple actually wants to prevent such tactics. The strategy around the in-app currency brings two things: On the one hand, the hoop makers are already making money with their simple app. On the other hand, they use classic growth hacking tricks to push the reach and downloads of the application.

The simplicity promotes a gold rush mood

Like Yolo, Hoop comes from France. And both apps have one thing in common: a tiny team. Thanks to Snap Kit, young developers can easily build and experiment with applications on Snap's back - until an idea hits home. The Hoop makers developed the app "Dazz" via Snap Kit in 2018, which allows users to create surveys on Snapchat. “Our 250,000 users always made friends on Snapchat. So we decided to use Hoop to build an app for new Snap friends, ”Hoop founder Lucas Gervais told Techcrunch. In the end, the app should primarily help its users to expand their own Snap community - certainly not the worst advertising slogan in times of influencer dreams of many teenagers.

The big danger for apps as simple as Yolo and Hoop is arguably the platform itself on which they built their applications. Should Snap decide in Facebook fashion to simply build the functionalities themselves, that would probably mean the end of the apps. Especially in the case of Yolo, it is almost a mystery why this has not happened yet. After all, there have been question stickers in stories on Instagram for a long time. But Snap seems to prefer promoting the apps rather than copying them. The more hip apps that work based on Snapchat, the more important it becomes for users to have a Snap account. This win-win situation for platform and developers could further ensure that many viral apps will be created using Snap Kit in the future - especially if successful functions such as AR filters are integrated.