The Snapchat Primer You Need
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and as a business owner, you’re probably being inundated with advice. From how to host the perfect Black Friday event, to how to fine-tune your email marketing efforts, to how to make a killing on Cyber Monday sales, the list goes on and on. Today, we’re not going to talk about business (at least, not directly). Instead, we’re going to talk about something even more important – looking cool.
Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends gather together, and that means rubbing elbows with people much younger than you. Whether you call them millennials, Generation Z or digital natives, they’re the taste makers and trendsetters of our time, especially when it comes to technology. If you think that having a Facebook profile makes you hip, think again. Today’s youth have already moved on. Where have they gone? To Snapchat.
Snapchat is the latest social media craze among users between the ages of 13 and 23. Today I’m going to explain what it is, how it works, and why it matters. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have all the information you need to be the coolest person at the kiddie table.
What Is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a messaging app that allows users to take photos or record videos, and then add text and drawings before sending them to other users. These messages are called “Snaps.” Users choose who can see their Snaps, and also set a time limit for how long their Snaps can be viewed, which can last anywhere between one and 10 seconds. After that time is up the Snap disappears, never to be seen again. Snapchat is a strictly mobile app, which means it’s limited to smartphone use, and it’s an easy, simple and fun way to share messages and communicate with friends.
But what’s the point?
For the most part, human beings are obsessed with preserving each moment, leaving a legacy, and looking back at last week with wistful nostalgia. Why, then, are today’s teens suddenly obsessed with an app that’s designed to be fleeting and ephemeral? As the founders explained in one of their first blog posts, that fleeting nature is exactly what makes the app so attractive. “Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment,” they explained. “It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion – not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
Here’s another way to think about it. On Instagram, we stage photos of our perfect lives. On Facebook, we curate our pictures and updates so we appear to be responsible and well-liked. On Twitter, we share news stories and discuss headlines in witty, 140-character missives. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a platform where you can control who sees your content and for how long. It’s a rare opportunity to be silly, embarrassing and honest online, without worrying about any lasting consequences.
And people actually enjoy this?
Do they ever! In May, the mobile app boasted 100 million daily users, 65 percent of whom uploaded photos. Researchers have even found that people are happier after using Snapchat than they are after using other social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is because Snapchat feels more like good, old-fashioned, face-to-face communication. Because you share your Snaps with a select group of friends, it’s more personal than broadcasting your life to the world at large, which is a huge part of its appeal. And while Snapchat initially had a reputation for – ahem – risqué photos, most people admit to using the platform to send their friends funny selfies.
Okay, fine. It sounds cool. But can my business use it?
Like most social networks, Snapchat wasn’t built to be a business tool. However, it’s in Snapchat’s interest to offer something to businesses and potential advertisers, because a bunch of funny selfies isn’t exactly something you can take to the bank. To offer something to a wider audience, Snapchat released Stories. These Stories are a string of Snaps that exist for 24 hours, and can be viewed by a select group or publically, based on the user’s settings. Many businesses and brands are creating stories and posting them publically, so they can be viewed by anyone. This is still a new feature and many brands are still experimenting, but so far there are accounts for a range of companies, including Food Network, to Buzzfeed, to National Geographic. Some brands are using them to preview new products, as a teaser for content on their website, or as a way to offer behind-the-scenes look at their company. Since Snapchat is still relatively new, the platform is ripe for experimentation, and the brands that start using it now will have a leg up on those who insist on ignoring it.
Hmm. I’m suddenly sort of interested in Snapchat.
I figured you would be! The next step is downloading it to your smartphone (don’t worry, it’s free) and trying it out for yourself. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll be Snapping like a natural. And while we joke around about looking cool, the truth is that staying relevant is important for your business, brand or company. If you need help navigating the latest technologies, contact Sage Island. We’ll get you up to speed and make sure you look cool no matter what platform you’re using.