If you're paying attention to media, you know that Snapchat is being crowned the new social media (if not total media) darling. You may know it as the disappearing messages app, but that is an oversimplification and overlooks what makes it so popular and heavily used. How heavily? According to Bloomberg, 150 million people use the app each day--more daily users than Twitter; and comScore reports that 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. use the app.
So much has already been written about this trendy app. Perhaps you're interested in knowing why people love Snapchat so much. Or maybe you're a user and want to know how to improve your own experience. Rather than a "how-to" story about using Snapchat to promote your business, this column is about understanding some key behaviors behind its usage.
Unlike many photo sharing apps (I'm looking at you, Instagram), Snapchat doesn't allow for "curation." Upon opening the app, users are beckoned to take a photo or video immediately. There's no room for being overly precious. Snapchat is saying, "Let's focus on what's really happening, right now." The immediacy of the snaps users see is one thing that makes the app so addictive.
Is Snapchat all about capturing the moment in 100 percent journalistic reality? Thankfully, no. Users find ways to "edit" videos by shooting them in short, inventive sequences. And they add to their photos with text and drawings to explain, direct focus, or just have ridiculous amounts of fun. People draw themselves into costumes or have items "instantly" appear in their videos.
Unlike most social media platforms, Snapchat doesn't display the number of followers of an account. And when the app launched, there was no mass distribution system. As a result, snaps feel direct, as if they were created just for the viewer. Even viewing a story created by a popular user or a brand feels more personal because it is viewed directly by one user at a time on their device. It creates a real response from the viewer, as well as an increased focus on the content.
Every new trend offers insights about the way people and behavior are changing. The key is to allow yourself not to think literally about the trend (in this case a piece of software). Instead, look for similar and differing behaviors of your customers and staff--and change accordingly.
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