What is Snapchat? And why should you care? If you don’t know anything about Snapchat, I highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s primer: “The Snap Generation: A Guide To Snapchat’s History.” He does a great job of explaining the history of the platform and covers some of the basics.
But I’ll tell you why you should care:
People are using Snapchat in 2016 like they were using Facebook in 2005.
Do you realize what an incredible opportunity that is? Imagine being able to go back in time to 2005 knowing what Facebook would become. That would be like winning the lottery. And now we’re seeing a similar rise with Snapchat (and it appears Mark Zuckerberg agrees—he tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013).
Snapchat isn’t right for everyone. It’s probably not even right for most companies. But here are five reasons why you should at least be paying attention:
1. It’s where the party is
According to Bloomberg, Snapchat delivers more than seven billion video clips each day with just 100 million users. To put that in context, Facebook, with 1.5 billion users, delivers 8 billion daily video views. This is where the eyeballs are. The White House said as much when they recently joined Snapchat, writing “Our digital strategy centers around meeting people where they are… There are over 100 million daily active Snapchat users, and over 60 percent of American smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 use the platform.” Higher education, sports, politics, television — if you’re trying to reach the coveted next generation of consumers, Snapchat should definitely be on your radar.
2. It’s cool
In The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg famously says, “We don’t even know what it is yet. We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be, we know that it is cool.” What started as a cool social network for teenagers and college students has turned into one of the largest companies on the Internet and if Mark’s interest in Snapchat is any indication, we could be witnessing a similar phenomenon. Ironically, Snapchat’s rise in popularity can be attributed to the mass adoption of Facebook. While the ROI might not be immediately clear today, it also wasn’t immediately clear for Facebook in 2005. Ten years later, they’ve made a number of changes to their product and companies are throwing money at them (to the tune of $5.8 billion in Q4 2015). Expect the same for Snapchat.
3. It doesn’t have to be perfect
Snapchat’s biggest appeal is its ephemeral nature. In a world where social media has evolved into carefully curated life moments designed to showcase your perfect life, Snapchat flat out rejects that. As Andrew Watts wrote last year, “Snapchat is where you post yourself getting ready for the party…having fun at the party…and waking up the morning after the party.” In other words, Snapchat is where you share authentic moments from your life — often embarrassing, messy, and funny. The next generation of digital consumers are also concerned about the permanence of social media and the potential impact on future college and job prospects. Snapchat allows them to express themselves, communicate authentically, and have it all disappear 24 hours later.
4. It’s still the Wild West
Snapchat is still in its infancy and that means the only limit is your own creativity. There aren’t established best practices or ways to optimize KPIs because people are still figuring out the platform. And when there’s a digital landgrab, there’s a huge opportunity for the right brands to carve out a strong following. Just ask DJ Khaled who has propelled himself back into relevancy on Snapchat with his ridiculous videos. Or look at Marquette University’s 379 year-old namesake Father Marquette trying out Halloween costumes, asking for meal swipes, or modeling spirit shop gear. This is a creative whitespace that does not come around very often. As communicators, we should be excited and jump at the opportunity.
5. It’s easy
Of all the social media platforms I’ve used in the last 10 years, Snapchat is by far the easiest. Tap the button, take a picture. Hold down the button, take a video. Swipe to add a filter. Add an emoji. Draw a mustache. The sky’s the limit. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about wordsmithing a perfect 140-character tweet or picking the right hashtag on Instagram. You simply capture fleeting moments of life and share them with friends and family — no matter how mundane or exciting. And if it sucks, who cares? You can start all over again the next day.
Joe Scannell is a senior account executive on the Digital Crisis team in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on Twitter for tweets about tech, politics, and Chicago sports.