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Waking up to a bunch of Snapchat notifications helps make my mornings a bit more bearable.  The fact that there is no context and no warning to what you’re about to open makes every snap a surprise, something that not many other platforms can attest to.  Currently, Snapchat is the second most popular free application on the App Store, above Facebook and Instagram.  This simple observation is telling of the direction social media is moving in: people are becoming more and more engrossed with the idea of immediacy and privacy as well as real-time, live coverage of events.

snappers

Screenshot courtesy of Fitz Tepper at TechCrunch.com

Snapchat was first released in 2011, and has come a long way since its initial function as an ephemeral photo/video sharing platform.  According to CEO Evan Spiegel, who spoke at Morgan Stanley’s Tech, Media & Telecom conference in February, Snapchat users are watching a whopping 8 billion video views daily.  It’s kind of absurd, or even unfathomable, to think about as there are not even 8 billion people on this planet!  But Snapchat has made it.  And what I think is more deserving of praise is how it has handled its success and grown with its users over the years.  In addition to being able to send photos and videos with a limit of 10 seconds, after which they will ‘disappear forever’, Snapchat has added a continually changing set of filters to apply to your content and geotags to demarcate where you are in the world.

Now, don’t kid yourself and deny that you’ve sent a snap with the dog filter, everyone has…  But the real question is, why?  Honestly, the answer is because it’s silly, harmless fun.  Snapchat is great at keeping its users engaged and a large part of this has come from the interactive, facial-recognition filters that transform any user into a goth, a grandma, a dog, a panda, or even someone else (with help from the classic face-swap filter).  The fact is, these silly gimmicks are funny to watch and so easy to record that users have made using Snapchat and posting content a part of their daily routine.  Common practices like “liking” posts or commenting on posts are nonexistent on Snapchat because it is not a platform that encourages user participation through mechanisms that boost people’s self-esteem, it is a platform prospers through the curiosity of each independent user, as they can create their own snap stories without having to abide by any standards or guidelines that might be typical of say, Facebook or Instagram.  Snapchat is curated by each individual user who controls who can see what snaps and who cannot, making it a much more intimate experience.

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Screenshot taken myself from a Google search of “Snapchat dog filter”

 

But what is even more influential and bursting at the seams with potential is Snapchat’s ‘Live Story’ feature.  This feature, introduced last year, allows users to post content to Live Stories, upon curation, for certain major events including Coachella, the FIFA World Cup, St. Patrick’s Day Parades, etc.  What’s really important to note about Snapchat is that in the US, 86% of users are under age 34.  This demographic is extremely important to keep note of, as teenagers and young adults are the most prominent users on the app.  

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Screenshot taken from Snapchat.com

 

Brian Hanley, of Huffington Post, offers the idea that Snapchat is an ideal medium to help bring awareness to campaigns / events because of its ability to target a highly in-tune and receptive demographic.  I agree with this argument 100% because Snapchat has now established itself as an application that listens to its users by showing their content on a global scale, which is huge if you think about it.  During my time in the U.S., I remember watching the Live Stories from all sorts of events like Fashion Week, the Superbowl, and even political campaigns.  However, being in Central Europe is quite different, as there is no Prague Live Story or any other sort of ‘Live’ option in the Czech Republic.  It seems to me that while Snapchat is very prevalent among the younger generations, it has yet to takeoff in Eastern Central Europe despite its attempt at live, national coverage.  The live coverage users contribute to in the US is much more expansive than anywhere I’ve been in Europe, perhaps excluding London and Paris, but that is because the sheer amount of event covered in the US are staggeringly more than here.

I would like to offer some advice to Snapchat, in that they should hire consultants from each Eastern-Central European country to help them create ongoing Live Stories for their capital cities, just like NYC, and to determine when to launch Live Stories for events and holidays.  My idea is that if they aren’t currently launching these Stories in Prague, they probably aren’t doing so in many other places.  Czechs love hockey, so why not capitalize on that and make a Live Story when the championship game comes on?  Creating Live Stories in Eastern European countries is something that I think would help benefit users by feeling united and connected to one another.  Advertising is also something to think about, as companies could potentially pay for spots in Live Stories.

We must not forget, though, the power that comes with creating Live Stories and curating them.  Snapchat has been called out on multiple occasions for selectively curating what photos/videos make it on to Live Story’s.  Most recently was involving a Live Story covering a US Democratic Debate in Brooklyn from this weekend.  Hanley argued that the Live Story was partial towards Clinton’s party as the Story was oversaturated with pro-Hillary snaps and there were very few snaps in support of Sanders.  This shows just how much responsibility comes with enabling Live Stories, in that backlash is always a possibility.  From my perspective, though, I think that Live Stories are a great way to engage users, keep them motivated to create and post content, and have a greater cultural effect in bringing people from nations and around the globe closer together.  The cultural growth that can be made by offering Live Stories in CZ and East-Central Europe as a whole would be incredible.  It’s only a matter of time before Snapchat picks up even more here and becomes many youths primary source for obtaining news.  

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6 thoughts on “Yo, let me get that on the Snappers!

  1. As a huge snapchat fan, I love this post. I agree that I think snapchat is so successful because of its constant upkeep with user demands. I remember when they briefly had it that you could buy certain filters, thus limiting which you could use. Personally I despised this and it is clear others did as well for snapchat quickly changed to all the filters being free again. It is crazy to think how far snapchat has come. As an early user I remember when snapchat progressed to having the ability to create bolder text, filters, geotags, emojis, smart filters and much more. Perhaps the most recognizable of these was the Live Stories.
    When Live Stories were first introduced to snapchat I constantly kept up with them. As their novelty sort of ran out for me, I stopped watching them as much yet still kept up to date with many of them. Being in the Czech Republic this semester I have absolutely noticed the lack of coverage here as well as the lack of access to many Live Stories I could have watched in the States. This made me realize that snapchat may not be as global as I had previously thought. I think with time snapchats popularity will grow in Eastern Europe, as is proven with many other social media platforms. When this occurs, their coverage of Eastern European cities, holidays, and events will increase. In the mean time, I think that getting consultants in these countries would be beneficial to the growth of snapchat overseas.

  2. I love snap chat. It allows me to communicate with my friends and it makes me feel as though they are with me right there in the moment even if they were far away. And I feel that the filters that snap chat adds every once in a while act as great conversation starters! People could start a conversation with a snap, then end up texting each other or sending voice notes just like any other messenger for other social media platform.
    I agree with you; something about Snap chat makes the experience that you have with your friends on it, more intimate. You feel closer to your friends since the moments you share with them are more privatized. Not everyone gets to see all your snaps and so not everyone could give their feedback to you, and even if they did it would not be in public. Which is great!
    Live snap chat stories show users all over the world a country or an event somewhere in the world, its basically promoting tourism all over the world from the eyes of normal citizens or tourists! However, some Eastern-Central European countries might not want to attract tourists. Especially with whats going on in Europe lately, citizens of those countries are to busy worrying about whats going on to care about live snapchat stories. Thats what I personally think, I am not basing it on any facts.
    While reading this I thought of how news agencies can benefit from snap chat and engage users with whats going on around them in the world. Journalists and reporters could share live feed on snapchat from wherever they are regardless of what crisis or story they are covering. I think this should be an option that could create a real difference.

  3. Great blog post Emma! I really appreciated your insight on snapchat. This app has been one that has really taken off and seen new changes very recently, so it is very much at the forefront of the social media scene.
    I would like to give you props for acknowledging the bit about how Snapchat is managing to hold onto its users. I wrote about Facebook’s new videos on its platform that hold the users on the site/app but with snapchat, they are doing an incredibly efficient job with holding onto its users because of the nature of its app. Everything is quick and it is easy and fun to use. The quick messaging style and the filters, which have been a game changer, are really incenting users to stay on the app.
    You also addressed the fact that the app does not rely on likes/comments and encourages user participation. I thought this was a very insightful observation. I did not realize what made me like snapchat so much, but I think you are right here. There is nothing like comments/likes that give people anxiety about appearing popular. It’s very straight forward and users can just do their own thing. Although I would like to say that there is a score system on snapchat, and you would think that would make users feel anxious, but from what I noticed, no one really cares about the score. It really just highlights Snapchat’s ability to be a fun, casual app that people like to use.
    I’d like to also make a quick mention to snapchat’s appeal to businesses, especially smaller ones. Businesses can use snapchat and users can add these “official” accounts to interact with businesses. It’s a good way for businesses to be more personal with their customers. But even big-time companies have experienced a lot of success with snapchat as well, like Taco Bell. While they are big, they utilize a social media team to care for their snapchat account that consistent updates its story with fun content that users can see and interact with.

  4. It was interesting to learn that Snapchat Live stories are biased. I never assumed all submissions were posted because that would be an unbelievable number, but I just thought that so long as they were generally appropriate and seemed fun they would be added.
    I wonder if it is possible for them to be biased in non-political ways, for example for the Superbowl (I didn’t watch the live story for this) were there more features on a particular team or team’s fans? On the other hand, it is also interesting how Snapchat can be used for politics. Snapchat does have advertisements when viewing the Discover stories and I wonder if any candidate has participated or has considered participating in Snapchat advertising. Like you said, a large portion of users are in the younger demographic which is sometimes difficult for presidential candidates to reach.
    At the same time, I wonder how seriously anyone would take this. There are some users who are definitely much younger than voting age and use Snapchat for mostly silly uses. I read an article on a teenager who sends up to a thousand snaps a days, wakes up to over a hundred snaps, and claims most of her friends follow the same routine. Would political messages be unwelcome and cause people to leave the app?
    In terms of the Czech Republic and East and Central Europe, I was wondering if you found any stats regarding Snapchat use here? The only Czechs I have talked to–some of the RAs–don’t seem to use it much but I’m not sure if younger or older generations do. I think your theory of including events such as Live Hockey stories is a very good one and I agree that it might get more Czechs to use it. I wonder how filters and Discover stories would be received however. In my mind I see Czechs being too serious to use the silly filters on Snapchat and because most of the Discover content is in English, I wonder if there would be a sense of cultural disparity.
    If really interested in becoming global, Snapchat could develop its GPS system even further so that didn’t just change geofilters but also content on Discover to match the language and interests of those in other countries.

  5. I completely agree with you that one of the reasons for Snapchat’s success is because it goes against the typical social media and engages users with one another in a new way; it is not a popularity contest to see how many likes or comments you get. No one but you can even see how many views it got. You mentioned the filters on Snapchat which, like most people, I love. However, a couple of them have been problematic. For example, the 4/20 filter of Bob Marley’s face can possibly bring back memories of white people in earlier generations using black face makeup in a racist way. Also, there is one filter that distorts a person’s face and creates certain characteristics apparently meant to be funny such as smaller, differently shaped lips. This could possibly come off as offensive to people who have diseases like Down Syndrome and certain handicaps that cause their facial appearance to be inherently different. Snapchat may have made these filters with no malintent, but the fact is these filters could possibly be taken as offensive and hurtful by some users. Furthermore, I agree with you that Snapchat needs to expand and have more live stories across the globe. I think the featured stories are a great way of bringing cultural awareness to people who otherwise may not have known about customs, traditions, and holidays in far away places. It can be a very informative learning device when used properly by users and unbiased creators.

  6. I loved this post almost as much as I love Snapchat. I never really thought about the fact that there aren’t things like liking or favoriting a post before reading this blog.. but it’s true. There isn’t really a part of snapchat that takes part in the self-esteem aspect of social media that is commonly a part of other sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I actually feel that snap is the only site that is actually attempting to keep up with the times through it’s use of live feeds and the filters. When with friends, there is always a chunk of time spent messing around with the filters and faceswaps. However, I actually don’t find myself really looking at the live feeds… even when I’ve exhausted every of social media and there’s nothing left for me to look at, I don’t ever think,”oh, might as well go look at the live stories.” I also am only ever on the discover tab when I swipe to it accidentally. But I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. I’d rather spend time messing around with the filters than watching people I don’t know doing stuff I don’t typically care about. Perhaps the only exception for me is when there are live stories for event such as the Met Gala or other red carpet events when I want to see what celebrities are wearing. On the topic of celebrities, snapchat is a HUGE component when it comes to connecting with fans. I follow quite a few celebrities on snapchat and I always find it interesting to see what their daily lives are like, especially compared to mine lol. For example, I just started following Wiz Khalifa and it was honestly life-changing. I mean, most of his snaps are of him smoking, but lately he has been posting a bunch of videos of him and his son who is ADORABLE. His snaps with Sebastian low-key brighten up my day, he is so freaking cute. Anyway, I think that snapchat has a lot of power right now, especially when it comes to expanding celebrities’ fan bases. It has the possibility to make or break them.

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