For the past few weeks I’ve been doing something I never expected to be doing… learning everything I could about Snapchat.
Why? Because I don’t understand it.
I’m a millennial and fall into Snapchat’s core demographic, the internet is my life and I can usually figure it out, my business requires me to be up on the “Modern Marketing” tools that people use, etc…
So why don’t I understant it? I should be all up on Snapchat, right? The the part that’s unexpected is that I figured I’d never need to read up on it in the first place.
Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Vine… these social networks make sense to me. I understand how they work and why they’re popular. But Snapchat is still a mystery to me; for starters there are so many things wrong with it on paper that I’m surprised that it’s as popular as it is.
What’s wrong with it?
Everything you post is disposable and has an expiration date.
Why wouldn’t I want an archive of my published photos to live on forever like on Facebook or Instagram?
There is no history maintained with the people you interact with.
If I forget what a friend and I were talking about, or accidentally leave the conversation, I can’t get it back.
If you take a photo with your phone’s camera, you can’t add that photo to your Story.
Why not? Why can’t I take a photo and put it wherever I want?
If I download a photo/video that I took using Snapchat, the quality is sub-par compared to if I had used my nativecamera.
So if I do take a picture in Snapchat in order to put it in my Story, then download it to my phone, it won’t look as good as if I had just taken it with my native camera.
Videos are limited to ten seconds, and I think that restrictions on content can limit potential.
I feel like the restriction only lends itself to drivel instead of full thoughts and ideas.
There is no profile information besides the person’s name, nor a way to find/discover other users.
You need to know who you’re following and why before you even start.
The usability is not intuitive or explained during use.
There are still icons and symbols the purpose of which is a mystery to me, despite my research.
You can doodle and put stickers on your photos.
It just seems silly to me.
Who would want any of these things as features? The weirdest part is that there are exceptions to all of these scenarios, with seemingly no rhyme or reason.
Several weeks ago, Gary Vaynerchuk (who I’ve mentioned before) really started to embrace and push Snapchat. The app has always been on my phone, so he didn’t introduce me to it, but did make me think “I’ll give it a fair shot.”
What have I realized since then?
Disposable photos & videos can be a blessing.
I’m not very photogenic (is “videogenic” a word?) so maybe it’s a good thing that things don’t stick around. I can also download and keep the content that’s gold, too.
I can’t believe it, but it’s making me more confident.
Recording video and talking “to myself” is getting me out of my comfort zone. Feels weird sometimes, but I’m pushing through that and it’ll likely make me a more confident person.
Ten-second Snaps can be limiting, but can also force creativity.
Some people are using it in very creative ways. I’ve seen people use it to make “micro movies” where each Snap is a different shot therein. People can be clever. Just look at Vine. For the rest of us, recording two ten-second videos to say everything isn’t a travesty.
You can doodle and put stickers on your Snaps.
I don’t do it very much, but a lot of people do and they can do it well.
You posts can be private, public, or both.
You can share a Snap to anyone following you, specific people, or both. Other social networks are all-or-nothing.
I think people are being “real” on Snapchat.
People are using it to give a raw peek behind the curtain into their lives, instead of the “airbrushed” versions that they may show on other social networks. Most snaps aren’t perfectly polished or have the right lighting like Instagram selfies, and that’s kind of what’s endearing about it. People aren’t perfect, and people are choosing to Snap when they may not look or be at their best.
What’s most interesting is that after a few days of Snapping at least once per day, I started to catch myself thinking “Oh, I should Snap that!” or “Hey, can you say that again (so that I can Snap it)?” Fewer than ten people see any of my Snaps, so why is this happening? Am I enjoying it or something?! That may be the only explanation.
Verdict: Snapchat is best-served in tandem with other social networks or outlets instead of the only one. In today’s world we all have a personal brand, and those brands are best built using multiple social networks to reach a broader audience. Embracing Snapchat definitely helps with that, but it’s different than all of the others. The content you create on Snapchat, and how you create it, and the audience you’re creating it for, is much different than any other social network. (For more information on that, keep an eye on my business blog.)
Working in the world of social media, I’m starting to give into the fact that you have to play to the strengths of the network you’re using, and adapt your content and strategy for that platform.
You can also keep your eyes on this post, so I am likely to update it as my opinions change over the coming days/weeks.
And of course, you know I like sharing video and Gary Vaynerchuk…