Snap’s ‘insane’ monetization is making it a new creator favorite, attracting stars like David Dobrik and paying another creator more than $10,000 some days

March 16, 2023, 4:31 PM UTC
David Dobrick and Hannah Stocking on background with layered Snapchat logos.
The payouts have turned Snap into a preferred platform for many high-profile creators like David Dobrick and Hannah Stocking.
Courtesy of Dobrick,Amy Sussman—Getty Images for Max Mara; Courtesy of Snapchat

Hannah Stocking, who got her start as a Vine comedian, recently made $30,000 over the course of 72 hours by exclusively posting content to Snap. On another day, she made $14,000. This is because she’s part of the platform’s advertising revenue share program—currently in beta testing—that’s turning Snap Stories into gold mines for top stars.

The payouts have turned Snap into a preferred platform for many high-profile creators, and, the company hopes, could be a powerful equalizer in its competition against larger social media rivals like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

For Stocking, who has been a professional creator for 10 years but has been active on Snap for fewer than eight months, the revenue sharing program has been an eye-opener.

“I never really knew Snapchat could be lucrative,” says Stocking, who has 935,000 followers on Snap, 24 million on Instagram, 9 million on YouTube, and 28 million on TikTok. The short video clips she posts to Snap Stories—a mix of seconds-long sketches (Stocking walking a camel down the street in pajamas) and raw content (Stocking opening doors with a guffaw) aimed at an audience largely under 18—has rendered Snap her highest grossing, and favorite, social platform.

“Snapchat is mainly just having a good time with friends, 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.”

Stocking’s Snap profits flow from her participation in the company’s advertising revenue share program for Snap Stars, public figures with mass appeal. The program, unveiled in 2022 and still in beta, has motivated some of the biggest creators on the planet like Stocking, David Dobrik, and Charli and Dixie D’Amelio to invest time and energy into making specialized content just for Snap. “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,” says Adam Waheed, who has 362,000 Snap followers, 11 million on YouTube, 5.1 million on Instagram, and 18.8 million on TikTok. 

The early success stories with Snap Stars comes as other social platforms are experimenting with, and in some cases rethinking, their creator monetization strategies. Instagram recently announced that it was ending its “bonus” payouts to Reels creators, as well as “winding down” its NFT program that allows users to mint and sell NFTs on Instagram to share across Meta platforms. (The company said it’s focusing on “other monetization products” that are “scaling faster and proving more sustainable outcomes over the long term.”) And TikTok’s advertising revenue-share program for top creators—TikTok Pulse—has struggled to prove its worth among creators, with some participants making less than $5 a month, as Fortune previously reported. The company also faces significant risk that the U.S. government could limit, or ban, its access in the country because of its Chinese ownership.

For Snap, whose 375 million daily active users and $17 billion market cap are dwarfed by its rivals—Meta has a $515 billion market value and boasts nearly 3 billion users in its family of apps while YouTube, owned by $1.2 trillion Alphabet, has more than 1 billion daily users on Google alone—top creators are a valuable asset, which can help siphon audiences and brand advertising dollars from the competition.

“If Snap can stay focused and leverage what they have going on with creators, it’s a good opportunity for them,” says Paul Rodriguez, a managing director at Arthur W. Wood. “Meta has other focus areas—the Metaverse, WhatsApp, and Reels. I personally think TikTok is going to be under extreme pressure as to whether it’s going to exist here. That leaves YouTube and Snap, and the parent of YouTube has its own distractions as their core search business has come under pressure with the advent of ChatGPT.”

Though a representative for Snap declined to share the revenue split with Snap Stars, a source close to the company says it’s a 50/50 split. Snap creators are paid in Crystals, whose exchange rate is roughly $1 to 10 crystals, and can be paid out after a creator has earned over 1,000 crystals or $100.

Snap acknowledges it hasn’t always been top of mind when people think of the creator economy. “It’s sometimes easy not to think about us when you’re thinking about opportunities in the creator economy because the content ecosystem on Snapchat is built on top of a camera-first communication tool,” says Jim Shepherd, director of global talent partnerships at Snap. “We run a bit under the radar, but I think over the last year to two years, we’ve been quietly building a very meaningful ecosystem for creators to build their businesses on our platform.” 

In the last three months of 2022, the amount of time that users spent on creator stories increased 10% year over year, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said during the company’s Q4 conference call in January. And with Snap’s advertising revenue still under pressure from Apple’s iPhone privacy changes (Snap revenue in Q4 was flat year over year), the company pointed to the creator revenue-sharing program as an important tool to open up new advertising inventory on its platform.

Based on Fortune’s observations, ads appear in Snap Stories between every four to six posts; this equates to every 18 to 45 seconds. The ads are from large public companies like Amazon, Doordash, and Adobe. This cadence is far greater than in-feed or in-video ads on YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook where users can go minutes without seeing an ad. 

Less pressure for creating content

Aside from high payouts, top creators told Fortune they prefer Snap for the ease of creating Stories on the platform and the associated authenticity. “Snapchat stories are like the raw experience of someone’s day,” says David Dobrik, who has 7.3 million followers on Snap, 26.2 million on Youtube, 11.3 million on Instagram, and 26.3 million on TikTok. “It really takes the pressure off creating.”

If Snap can continue to win over creators, it could inspire its enormous audiences to expand their Snap usage. 

Like Stocking, Dobrik began his creator career on Vine and has since become one of the highest paid YouTubers in the world, making $15.5 million in 2020, per Forbes. He notes that many creators switch careers due to the demanding ideation and production schedules required of social media professionals. “A lot of the things you hear from YouTubers and people who do social media all the time is burnout,” he says. “I have never gotten that feeling with Snap because it’s so fucking easy.”

In addition to the ease of use and high payouts, creators are also drawn to Snap by the support they receive from the platform. Adam Waheed, who has 5.1 million followers on Instagram, 11.6 million on YouTube, and 18.8 million on TikTok (and is rumored to be dating Stocking) has only been investing in Snap content for about three weeks. Yet, he reports making around $1,500 per day from ad revenue-sharing and now considers it his favorite platform, in part because of his relationship to his Snap representative, Brooke Berry. “With certain platforms, you have to email them—but [Berry] is like, ‘Text me whenever,’” he says. “With Snap it feels very personal rather than like, ‘Hey, just go on there and post and make us money.’”

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