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  • Isabel Encinares

Snapchat's Spotlight Faulty Payment System

As TikTok continues to grow and grab the attention of thousands of social media users, other apps are scrambling to try and take inspiration from some of TikTok’s functions and features. One of the best features resulting from this trend thus far is Snapchat’s ‘Spotlight’ option. This Snapchat feature enables its users to film and post short clips that are displayed vertically in a separate tab available in the app.

While Snapchat’s ‘Spotlight’ feature was only released in November last year, it already reports over 125 million active monthly users. While it may not seem like the craziest amount, Snap only has 280 million active users per month, so it's a pretty significant amount of active users. The introduction of ‘Spotlight’ and the sheer amount of people who continue using the feature is sure to be a big help to Snapchat in terms of maintaining users, especially when TikTok has been climbing the ranks and thousands of users have been migrating.

The whole concept of Snapchat ‘Spotlights’ aligns greatly with that of TikTok clips. However, Spotlight stands out, as Snapchat offers cash payments to award the best-performing Spotlight clips. This feature has allowed some Spotlight creators to earn some big money and even do Spotlight creation full time.

However, some creators have recently reported that Spotlight payments have been experiencing delays, with some not receiving any payments at all. These issues have resulted from Snapchat’s drive to create a better program and payment system.

Several Spotlight creators have gotten together on Discord to convene and express their concerns and issues. According to the group, Snapchat Spotlights were initially offering a steady flow of payments which allowed the creators to keep on creating. However, Snapchat has changed the way they pay their top performers, causing the funds of most to dry up.

Snapchat’s Spotlight payment process was first changed in June, shifting from daily payments of 1 million dollars going to its Spotlight creators, to a much less detailed ‘millions per month’. Though the change is only fairly recent, Snapchat creators have reported not receiving payments since the 11th of April.

These major changes have left Spotlight creators confused and concerned, as Snapchat has not been transparent at all and has yet to release any statement explaining how they plan to change the payment system.

According to one of many Spotlight creators:

"Snapchat has left us all in the dark with no information on if our content has earned any money, and if so, how much."

In response to the confused community of Spotlight creators, Snapchat has explained that the rising popularity of Spotlight has caused an increased amount of delays in the processing of payments. This is due to the fact that Snapchat must check and verify each submission before releasing payments. This is done in order to ensure the quality of experience on the platform and make sure that all entries do not violate the platform’s terms and guidelines.

According to Snapchat, they have paid out over $130 million to its Spotlight creators, however they do acknowledge that their payment processing system has, at times, experienced quite a bit of trouble.

Moreover, while some creators have claimed that Snapchat has entirely stopped sending out payments, the company has denied these claims and states that they have continued to consistently pay its creators, even with the recent issues in processing.

The issues observed within Snap’s Spotlight program are definitely worth noting and have become an element for consideration, especially as Instagram has been looking to implement a similar payment program for Reels.

Eventually, the plan to create a more self-sustainable payment program would be to include ads or other revenue generating elements into Spotlights. As of now, the Spotlight stream does not contain any ads, but it may in the future give Spotlight creators a means to fund themselves.

Snapchat Spotlights have given Snapchat a number of benefits, but whether it's worth the millions that Snapchat is paying for, we cannot be sure. For now, all we know is that Snapchat may end up alienating a large part of its creator base while they try to upgrade the payment process.

Spotlight’s current numbers look promising, but as the system evolves and more challenges appear, another question is whether they will be able to maintain their growth. Moreover, as Snapchat builds a new self-sustaining system, will Creators continue to create, or will they see their funds evaporate and the creator base shrink?

For now, we must be patient and watch Snapchat Spotlights evolve.

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