Why Snapchat Works

Why Snapchat Works

The photo above is gorgeous. Now granted that’s a subjective opinion but don’t tell me you wouldn’t be the slightest bit jealous if your coworker or friend posted that in your Instagram feed. Come on, it’s only human, isn’t it?

Since it’s launch in 2010 – Instagram has sat at the pinnacle of what is known in culture as “curated life.” Perfectly staged photographs that are designed to inspire jealousy and show off status. If you need any further proof of this? I invite you to check out richkidsofinstagram.tumblr.com.

(I’ll wait while you vomit)

Instagram is perfection. It’s the reason that Facebook succeeded in the aughts and where Myspace failed. Great design, well thought out photography and careful measured communication. We’re all a mini Ansel Adams on the platform and carefully weigh every filter and every shot.

Snapchat is everything that Instagram is not. It revels in its imperfection. It’s a backlash to the “curated” movement. It only makes sense that kids and young adults love the platform. After all, for years growing up they’ve been told that the internet is “forever” and gravitated to platforms that they viewed as safe.

Snapchat is the first app created that makes “Millennials” feel old.

By focusing on the ethereal, Snapchat has captured the hearts and minds for those interested in the simple conversation. No curation, no thought, just simple communication between two people and if anyone breaks the rules? Instant block. It’s the internet’s “safe space” for lack of a better term. 

The numbers don’t lie, this approach is working: 36% of 18–29-year-old Americans have a Snapchat account, up from 28% in 2014. Couple that with 100 million active daily users and you have a true popular movement and behavioral shift under way.

But, how did this happen? How did Snapchat seemingly spring up overnight?

Simple: The behavior propagated by and for Snapchat had been steadily growing for years on different platforms. It existed as emojis on dumb-phones – and evolved into an ever growing visual language as time passed. Visual communication has begun to overtake written text as the preferred communication choice for young people.

It only makes sense that this type of behavior started gaining true-steam on the ultimate underground social network: Tumblr, where imagery superseded text as the communication vehicle of choice. It was perceived as safe (you can un-list your URL from search engines), full of porn (much like the early internet) and relied on young users and those seeking to escape the sameness that was Facebook.

What behavior specifically was gaining steam on Tumblr? Reaction gifs. They gradually became the preferred response on the platform – and have broke their way into the mainstream to the point that Facebook now uses them in their own interface. Snapchat is a more personal (1-to-1) extension of the reaction gif behavior. 

Closed loop communication has become the norm – how will we react as a society to penetrate, advertise and market to these increasingly savvy folks? Only time will tell.

It’s funny that all us older folks thought it was just for nudes now isn’t it?


Image Credits: Frontierofficial & Delmondo

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