User Engagement with Snapchat: Exploring the Influence of Technical Factors
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The use of digital services has become part of peoples' everyday lives. Research on how people use and engage with these services has become increasingly important. User engagement is a concept that has gained prominence over the last years. Studies have shown that the design and development of applications that result in engaging user experiences are as important as usability of applications. In this master thesis, we look into what triggers user engagement and motivates users to keep using Snapchat, and why they use Snapchat instead of other similar instant messaging applications. Furthermore, the goal is to investigate whether and to which extent technical factors may influence users' engagement when using Snapchat. The main motivation for choosing Snapchat as a concrete case for this master thesis is that even though Snapchat clearly is an example of a success story, only a limited number of studies have so far focused explicitly on how and why the application is used. The overview of related work shows that user engagement has been studied in different application domains, using different approaches. However, no previous work investigating the impact of technical factors on user engagement with Snapchat was found. Rather, it tends to be taken for granted that the technical elements work as they should, but this is not always the case. As part of the pre-project that was carried out in the fall, a small qualitative study using focus group interviews (N=12) was conducted. Based on the results, a survey (N=139) was created, targeting former and present Snapchat users. An evaluation of the findings leads to the conclusion that people use Snapchat because it is a fun and easy way of communicating with their acquaintances, with a low threshold for sharing everyday experiences. Snapchat is the go-to application for sharing small incidents and information with others, where it would not be natural to use other applications. Snapchat therefore does not only enable a different way of communicating, but also differs from other applications in terms of what is communicated. Further, the studies showed that technical factors (such as availability and response time) are important to some extent, but the importance is relative, and not alone enough to disengage from Snapchat. However, if another application emerges, without the technical errors underlying Snapchat, it is not impossible that the users would switch to this application if their acquaintances do so as well.