Snapchat is one of the most popular social apps today, but how? What exactly is so special about it, and why has it been quickly sweeping up mobile users faster than anything else?
To make a long story kind of short, Snapchat is an app that truly changed how people interact with friends compared to other popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Not everyone gets it — particularly older adults — but Snapchat sure is all the rage among the youngest smartphone users, including teens and young adults.
Snapchat: What It Is and How It’s Different
Snapchat is both a messaging platform and a social network. It can’t be used from the regular we and exists only as a mobile app you can download to your iPhone or Android smartphone.
Users can “chat” with their friends by sending them photos, short videos up to 10 seconds long. You can sort of think of it to be like texting with pictures or videos. Text chats and video calls are two other features that were added more recently to the app.
One of the most unique things about Snapchat is the ephemeral components of all the content that gets shared on it. Photos and videos essentially disappear a few seconds after they’ve been viewed by their recipients.
Unlike other social networks, which keep your content online forever unless you decide to delete it, Snapchat’s disappearing content makes online interaction feel more human and a little more grounded in the present moment.
There’s not as much anxiety about posting the perfect photo, wondering about how many likes or comments it might receive because it disappears within a few seconds and the only interaction you may receive back is a photo, video or chat reply.
If you’ve been on the internet in the last 5 years (if you haven’t, welcome!) then you’ve probably seen photos of girls with dog faces, little white ghosts on yellow backgrounds, and brief, filtered photos and videos that last no longer than 10-seconds; basically, everythingis related Snapchat now-a-days!
While the app’s original premise was quite simple (basically it was designed to send nudes that would disappear after a certain amount of time and inform the sender if the person on the other end screen-shotted their photo), the app has evolved into a social media app, a communication tool, a news source, and so, so much more.
If you’re not up to date on your Snapchat trivia, now is the time:
- Snapchat’s co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy first worked together while attending Stanford University on a website for students called Future Freshman in 2010. Spiegel told the Palisadian Post in August 2013: “We would experiment and fail. We must have attempted nearly 34 projects”.
- Originally Snapchat was called Picaboo, and it was first launched in July 2011 in Spiegel’s father’s living room on the Apple App Store.
- Picaboo was renamed Snapchat when the app was rebranded and added to the Google Play in 2012 for Android users.
- Inspiration for the disappearing messages came to Spiegel and Murphy after a friend regretted sending a photo to someone else.
- That friend is supposedly Frank Reginald Brown. Brown approached his friends Spiegel and Murphy with a “million dollar idea”. The three launched Picaboo, but Brown claims that Spiegel and Murphy ousted him. Since then, Brown has sued his two former friends, who in turn, have filed a restraining order.
- It’s been reported that Snapchat’s more than 100 million users share over 400 million snaps daily. That surpasses the photo-sharing activity on both Facebook and Instagram.
- According to the Institutional Venture Partners, Snapchat is valued at $800 million thanks to impressive funding drives.
- Venture capitalist firm Lightspeed Venture Partners provided $485k of seed funding in May 2012 after one of the partner’s found that the three most popular apps in his daughter’s high-school class were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. Since then, Snapchat has raised $123 million in funding.
- After their secret first meeting with Mark Zuckerberg in 2013, where Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s Poke, Spiegel and Murphy gave their six employees copies of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War .
- Zuckerberg tried to acquire Snapchat for $1 billion in October 2013. Spiegel and Murphy rejected that offer. Zuckerberg returned a month later with a $3 billion offer, which was again rebuffed.
- Snapchat’s mascot is called “Ghostface Chillah”, a name Brown derived from Ghostface Killah of the group Wu-Tang Clan.
- Around 26 percent of 18-29-year-old smartphone users report using Snapchat. Only 5 percent are among 30-49-year-olds, 3 percent of 50-64 year-olds and 2 percent of 65 and older.
- The number of photos shared has skyrocketed from 20 million in October 2012 to 60 million in February 2013, 150 million in April 2013, 200 million in June 2013 to 350 million in September 2013.
- Percent of US iPhone users with Snapchat: 20.8%
- In the United States, the Snapchat app is 10th on the Apple App Store.
- It’s estimated that Snapchat has between 26 to 30 million users in the U.S.
- In the United Kingdom, 25 percent of smartphone owners have reported using Snapchat.
- It’s been found that 50 percent of all smartphone users in Norway use Snapchat.
- Research has found that 70 percent of Snapchat users are women.
- In October 2013, Snapchat Stories was unveiled. This ‘timeline’ feature allows users to link shared content, which can be viewed an unlimited amount of times, throughout a 24-hour period.
- While brands like Taco Bell, Karmaloop and 16 Handles have been using Snapchat since 2013, the launch of Stories has seen an increase in brands ranging from HBO’s Girls, the New Orleans Saints, and Acura. Most recently, Hollyoaks became the first soap opera to use Stories as a way of posting teasers and exclusive content every weekday at 4 P.M.
- One major concern with Snapchat is ‘sexting’ and how Snapchat’s users, mainly those who are below the age of eighteen, use the app. According to a study conducted from market research firm Survata in February 2013, it was found that mobile phone users are more likely to use MMS for ”sexting’, rather than Snapchat.
- Studies have shown that ‘sexting’ is more than twice as common among men than women on Snapchat. Furthermore, it was found that 23 to 29 year olds actually sext more than 18 to 22 year olds.
- If teenagers aren’t being naughty on Snapchat, why are there so many users on Snapchat? Popular responses are: “Send funny pictures to my friends,” “Make silly faces for my friends,” and “Send jokes to my friends.” Another popular reason was because their parents aren’t on Snapchat.
- In June 2013, Snapchat Kidz was released. This included an “interface for taking snaps, captioning, drawing, and saving them locally on the device, but does not support sending or receiving snaps or adding friends,” and was designed for children under the age of 13.