Starting today, Twitter users can add stickers to photos they upload to the platform. “Use them to share what you’re doing or how you’re feeling, to show support for a cause, or to just add some flair,” Twitter suggests.
Twitter seems to be aiming for the popularity LINE achieved with stickers, or that of rival Snapchat with trendy interactive geofilters and lenses. But those features succeeded because they were original concepts and resonated organically with users – something unlikely to be true for Twitter’s new tools for personalized content. Currently, Twitter is most often used to keep up with the news rather than communicate with friends.
Stickers first gained popularity on Japanese messaging app LINE, which brings in more than $270 million per year from selling them. Combined with related merchandise, stickers account for almost a third of revenue for the company, which expects to raise $900 million in its upcoming IPO.
However, those stickers do more than “add some flair.” They tell a complex story using original characters like Brown the stoic bear and Cony the excitable rabbit. When a LINE user buys a sticker, they are essentially buying one of those stories.
Larger social platforms, which view stickers as larger versions of emoji, seem to have misunderstood the concept. When Facebook launched its own stickers in 2013, the simplistic images were a pale imitation of LINE’s content; Twitter’s roster of sunglasses and smiling suns has little more to set it apart.
Twitter also seems to be noting the popularity of Snapchat’s geofilters and lenses and the ad revenue that can result from them. Snapchat reaches 41% of 18-34-year olds in the US; a single National sponsored geofilter is typically viewed by 40-60% of daily Snapchatters. Gatorade’s Super Bowl sponsored lens drove more impressions than the number of people who tuned into the actual game, according to L2’s Instagram vs. Snapchat report.
However, that success is less a result of filters and more due to Snapchat’s impressive user count. Twitter’s growth has been consistently sluggish and stickers alone will not lure users back to the platform.