Let’s be honest… I first discovered that something called Snapchat even existed, only a couple of years back when I was reading an article online about how some celebrities had their accounts hacked and how the perpetrators responsible for the crime, proudly put their “loot” on display for the whole world to see (well, I can guarantee you that the whole episode didn’t leave those poor, victimized celebs feeling very proud though!).
Take you back to Christmas last year… that was when I heard about Snapchat for a second time. My teenage cousin sis (who is quite the introvert and the least noisy of the bunch!) seated in a corner, giggling all by herself and wearing an expression of total amusement as she had her face buried in her iThing. So I go up to her and remark a bit nonchalantly, “seems like you found yourself a boyfriend?” and she looks at me and responds (still seemingly tickled) “hehehe NO! Just chatting with a friend on Snapchat!” and starts showing me some of its (pretty cool) features. Boy! Did I feel old, not having a clue as to what she was talking about… and thought to myself: “time to do some research…”
So what actually is Snapchat? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a chat cum social networking app mainly targeted at teenagers/youngsters and is pretty much centered around… (Well, you guessed it!) Snaps! (That’s Snapchat-speak for photos/videos). What’s unique about Snapchat is that the messages you send, ‘disappear’ after a few seconds.
It’s quite simple to use; you click an image using your mobile phone and ‘play’ around with it adding text/doodles, decide how long you want the message to be visible (between 01–10 seconds), select whom you’d like to share it with and hit ‘send’. Easy as that!
Just imagine the average exchange of pleasantries you have with your neighbor in the morning… You most probably would go “morning Mrs. Johnson!” and she would respond as you force a smile… “Morning Fred!” and that would be well, the end of that. You would have no record of the conversation or any evidence as you would put it since those moments would just disappear! Snapchat more or less mimics this demeanor. Therefore, it would be quite safe to say that the way Snapchat works is a lot closer to how we actually communicate face to face — compared to any other social network.
It’s been around for a while now… launched in September 2011, just a few months after one very ambitious Cardinal (Evan Spiegel) proposes the idea of Snapchat in a product design class. Today, more than 37% of Americans between the ages of 18–29 have a Snapchat account and the company has grown into a 16 billion dollar enterprise (as at March 2016). It’s no wonder that the very street-smart Mr. Zuckerberg made an offer (which was eventually turned-down) of US$ 3 Billion to purchase Snapchat back in November 2013, knowing how great its potential was.
Although at its core, Snapchat will most probably remain a teen-centric app that allows you to send messages that “self-destruct” to your friends, it has proved that it’s no one-trick pony — launching some cool features along the way such as, Stories, Discover, Geo filters and Lenses.
One thing’s certain, the world’s fascination with instantaneous and momentaneous keeps growing each day and Snapchat is a little ghost that feeds on this trend. Facebook was once that Goliath that not even David could knock-over; but man, are things changing! — Snapchat is now the most popular social networking platform among 18 to 24 year-olds in the US (accounting for 45% of consumer attention). On the other hand, Facebook comes-in at (a quite shocking) number 07 on the list with just 16%. Snapchat now officially has bragging rights to ‘highest number of daily video views’ on any social media platform, surpassing rival Facebook’s 08 billion daily video views with a whopping 10 billion! Snapchat has also managed to overtake Twitter — with 10 million more active users than Twitter’s 140 million.
Snapchat screams pure attention. For example, a person who watches your snap story “chooses” to watch you which many see as actual engagement, unlike a more passive or reactive impression on Facebook/Twitter which somebody may not have been paying attention to or may not have been looking for.
Personally, I reckon that sky’s the limit for Snapchat — and it is well on its way to becoming probably one of the biggest and most popular social networking platforms of our times.