My quick take on Snapchat

Snapchat Phone

To stick with the theme, shouldn’t this post take 10 seconds to read and then vanish forever? Anyway …

What’s with all of the Snapchat conversation within L&D lately? Blogs. Podcasts. Blabs. All trying to figure out why Snapchat is “a thing.” With all the recent curiosity, you’d think the platform hasn’t been around for 4 years with a daily user base 100 million strong. Maybe some of the curiosity has been prompted by recent feature updates, but I have found most of the questions to be focused on Snapchat’s basic capabilities and overall perceived value.

I’m a light Snapchat user (jd.dillon). I tend to download and fiddle with most noteworthy new apps in specific categories to gain at least passing familiarity with what they do. I’m also particularly interested in how user behaviors may influence collaboration and sharing both at work and at home. Snapchat has been a now-and-then part of my communication ecosystem for a few years.

So what’s the deal with Snapchat? Why are users viewing 7 billion videos every day? Is it all about the transient nature of shared content, or do people just like puking rainbows with their friends? Here’s my quick take on the value of Snapchat.


 

Visual Storytelling

Whenever people ask me “what’s so special about Snapchat,” I first point to Stories. This ability to craft a visual narrative is perhaps the most unique way for users and brands to share experience and perspective with a scaled audience. Add Snapchat’s unique video/photo/text/filter options and its sequential nature, and you have “citizen journalism” on a whole new level. I’m actually starting to find Stories from sports and other live events, which showcase a variety of experiences and perspectives, to be more candid and entertaining than packaged highlights from traditional media.

Right Here, Right NOW

Sure, Snapchat content vanishes immediately after viewing (in theory). But I see the value of this core feature to be less about the transient nature of content and more about the immediacy with which it is shared and consumed. A snap represents a VERY specific moment in time for both the sender AND the receiver. This is a unique and potential deep proposition when you really think about it. In this way, Snapchat exchanges more closely mirror real life interactions – which are inherently fleeting – than do retrievable forms of digital communication.

Simple Targeted Communication

When you post a photo on Facebook, your entire collection of friends can usually see it. When you tweet, it goes to everyone following you. Instagram – same idea. Snapchat? You get to select exactly who you want to share with at that moment – regardless of established connection. This selective targeting is also much simpler to execute than it is via iMessage or other similar apps (until they catch up).

Purposeful Sharing

People still take pictures and record video with other apps. Instagram is more popular than ever. Facebook photo albums aren’t going away. The transient nature of Snapchat content points to the user’s heightened sense of sharing purpose. In the past, you would simply take a photo and figure out where to share it later. Now, you are likely determining how you want to capture and share a moment based on your app selection. Yes, you can download your own snaps while sending or share existing content from your device, but I’m willing to bet that’s not the norm for most users. Sharing via Snapchat represents a new level of awareness for users’ online sharing strategy.

 


What do you think about Snapchat? How do you use the app? How do you think Snapchat is influencing user behaviors and preferences within other sharing platforms, at home and in the workplace?

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