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Why Pay Attention to Snapchat?

Written by Jacob Salem

I won’t lie: I have a bit of a love affair with Snapchat.

Well, that’s wording it strongly.

I may or may not snap my wife and my dogs and my excellent view all day long.

I may or may not snap the song I’m jammin to on the radio while I’m driving for hours.

I may or may not snap more with friends than any other form of communication.

And I’m not alone.

According to Omnicore, there are over 300 million users on Snapchat, and ⅓ of them use it daily. There are more than 10 billiion daily video views.

It’s no wonder Facebook’s taking notice.

Not that Facebook has a numbers problem. With 1.71 billion monthly users and 1.13 billion daily users, Snapchat’s not even in the same zip code.

But with around 30% of U.S. Millenials using it, Snapchat’s obviously hit a chord. Consider that almost half of all Snapchat users are between 18-24…

Which explains why Facebook is making some changes (with more on the way).

Snapchat definitely trends younger than Facebook, and Facebook is definitely a monolith in the social media space.

But we’ve all seen how fast things change in the digital world. (Vine anyone?)

In fact, a few days ago, Snapchat’s parent company reported slowing growth and missed earnings.

Maybe those filters aren’t the secret to success?

As it happens, Instagram may be largely to blame, according to the experts:

“Instagram Stories is the ultimate disruptor for Snapchat: when a general-purpose photo & video application (i.e., Instagram) has a good enough functionality (i.e., Stories) to replace a use-specific but high-performance app (i.e., Snapchat), most users will switch to the general-purpose app in order to reduce the “cost” (i.e., time & effort of opening & maintaining multiple apps).”

Facebook’s looking closer, too. At their recent F8 developer conference, they revealed that they’re looking at ways to build community and tap into the one-to-one conversations that are such a hit on Snapchat.

And probably at least a few filters and stickers.

But why is Snapchat such a hit?

Because it’s meeting a need that the others totally missed.

1. Snapchat is personal.

It’s great to post to the world about how my dog bit me when I rubbed my wife’s back, but what really makes it resonate is the personal conversation.

Especially with people who know the dog. And my wife. And me.

Those people laughed, because they knew it wasn’t just the dog being a jerk. It was me egging the dog on.

Whether you’re sharing some inside joke or just a thought, Snapchat makes it easy to talk (literally, with video).

You can have conversations in real time, or they can take all day.

Either way, it’s personal. One-on-one. And as it turns out, that’s what we all want.

2. Snapchat is easy.

Open the app, hold down the button, send.

It doesn’t eat up (that much) data (unless you’re 13 and doing it obsessively) and it doesn’t have a learning curve.

It’s also short. Which doesn’t always mean sweet, but in a world of highlights and soundbites, it’s what we’re used to.

For that matter, it’s what we expect.

3. Snapchat is authentic.

OK, so I’ll admit that I try out the filters here and there (read as: all the time). But even with filters, there’s a goofiness and honesty to Snapchat that just doesn’t exist in other platforms.

It’s life as it’s lived, at least for me and the people I’m friends with. And I like that.

So do quite a few other people.