Snapchat Reveals it Paid out More Than $250 Million to Spotlight Creators in 2021

Snapchat has revealed that it’s paid out more than $250 million in payments through its Spotlight short-form content funding program in 2021, which hasn’t always been a perfect solution to win over creators, but has helped Snap generate more interest in its own TikTok-like option as it seeks to combat rising competition in the space.

Snapchat first launched Spotlight in November last year, with the lure of paying out $1 million every day to Spotlight creators, to be divided between the top-performing clips. It’s since revised that down to a more vague ‘millions per month’, and added more qualifiers to the funding. But even so, $250 million through 348 days of 2021 is a significant investment, with the funding shared between more than 12,000 short video creators.

That means that, on average, the Spotlight creators that have been paid through the program have made more than $20k each from their clips.

As per Snap:

 “We have been awed by the positivity of our community. Their talents, passions and unique perspectives are showcased on Spotlight every day, and it’s been exciting to see Snapchatters’ imaginations run wild while using Creative Tools. In fact, over 65% of Spotlight submissions use one of Snapchat’s Creative Tools or an augmented reality Lens.”

In many ways, it’s been a winner for Snap, yet, as noted, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, with Snapchat forced to revise the program in the middle of the year after creators complained that their payment amounts had significantly reduced over time, while they also reported delays in payments, and other issues, which had soured them on the experience.

Which is the opposite of the intended impact, with the program created to build stronger bonds with the creator community. Part of the problem here is that once Snapchat had implemented direct funding, creators quickly came to rely on that money, and when it sought to pull back on those funds, that had a direct impact on their income.

Which highlights a key issue with direct funding programs, as opposed to a self-sustaining advertising or other creator eco-system. But maybe that initial push has still given Spotlight enough of a boost to help Snap fend off the rise of TikTok, and keep its users from migrating away to the latest trending app.

Really, it’s amazing to consider the impact that TikTok has had on the social media landscape.

Not only is TikTok now on track to reach 1.5 billion users in its own right, but the popularity of the platform has influenced the latest feature additions in almost every other social app. In fact, TikTok is arguably more influential than any other social media tool before it, and while replication has always plaid a role in product innovation and development, the continued shift towards full-screen, short form video is changing to UI of various tools, and may well be the biggest overall shift in consumption habits in the history of the medium.

In this sense, Snapchat’s Spotlight initiative likely can be considered a success, given the way TikTok has dominated usage trends, and become the platform of choice for many young users. By adding its own variation of the same, and paying popular creator, Snap’s likely laid the foundations for ongoing usage and interest, which has added another element to the app, which will keep it moving in line with these trends.

And it’s not done yet:

“In the year ahead, we’ll continue to offer a range of opportunities to meet the needs of creators as they entertain our community while growing their brand. And for our community, we’ll continue to make it even easier to follow and view content from your favorite creators – whether that be on Spotlight, Stories or Discover. Today, over 25 Spotlight creators are also syndicating their show on Discover, with more to launch in the coming months.”

A new stream of creator content, new funding for creators, new avenues to discover talent. Is that worth $250 million? Probably, you would say, yes, and even with some teething problems, it seems that Snap may well be on a winner with its Spotlight approach.