Disappearing content doesn’t sound like the best way to build a social media platform, but that model has propelled Snapchat to gain over two hundred million daily users.
What set Snapchat apart from its launch in 2011 was that its content disappears after a short time. The platform was created by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy.
The idea of the company was to capture the moment. It was supposed to be instant communication that only lived for a short time, unlike cataloging social media apps that serve more like scrapbooks. The difference in Snapchat and Facebook can best be boiled down to an instant photo versus a yearbook. The longevity of personal information on social media was seen to be a significant issue. Snapchat sought to give users an option with more fun and less pressure.
Snapchat’s mascot “Ghostface” has become intertwined with its brand identity. Brand identity has a whole has been important to Snapchat, which has made its mark with a younger demographic than other, more established social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
Snapchat’s main market has been with millenials. The thrust of the brand experience is that it’s a fun and engaging social media platform. This has propelled Snapchat to expand its user base.
There have been some considerable issues for Snapchat regarding hacking. The company was also cited by the FTC for allegedly exaggerating the disappearing nature of its content to the public. Privacy concerns have consistently been a problem for Snapchat. Internal spying on users by employees using an application called SnapLion was uncovered in 2019.
Unlike other social media sites, Snapchat is tied to mobile phones exclusively.
There is a major emphasis from Snapchat on users interacting in real time and with augmented reality features. Filters and modifications that are available to users have heavily influenced the culture of the app. These features were once distinctive to Snapchat, however they were so popular that they have been copied by other, competing companies.
Multimedia messages, or snaps, are the backbone of this platform. Videos were added as a feature in 2012. Photos and videos are tightly tied to mobile camera technology, as they must be recorded at the time of upload rather than being uploaded from previous files.
Friends are added either by username or by phone number. The application itself is tied to phone services, suggesting potential friends based on phone contacts.
Though Snapchat originally focused on photo-sharing between individuals, it’s evolved considerably since its inception. Today, Snapchat has both public and private features. Stories are images or videos that are highlighted for twenty-four hours and show themselves in chronological order. The Discover screen shows advertisements as short form content.
Monetizing Snapchat through advertisement was a key change for the platform. Up until that point, the free application struggled to find a way to turn a profit. There has been further evolution in the monetization journey of Snapchat as well, with SnapCash rolling out in 2014. This feature allows users to send money to one another, for a small fee.
With one hundred and eighty-seven million active users, Snapchat is one of the largest social media platforms on earth.