Let's be honest, Snapchat is 'so hot right now'. The mobile app that lets you capture photos and videos that self-destruct after a few seconds, has become insanely popular with over 150 million photos shared daily.
The app was launched in September 2011, but it's usage has grown rapidly in the last few months. So much so that it is now top of the free Apple App chart and placing 6th on Android. The application was invented by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy two students from Stanford University.
The pair created the App with the idea to build on the concept of 'emotcion' systems that they felt were not enough to portray the emotion a person might wish to send with text message.
How It Works
Once Snapchat has been downloaded ,the user registers and sets a password, the app then lets you add your friends from your contact list.
Once you have your login, you can take a photo or video and then edit it with captions or 'doodles', finally set a timer from 1 to 10 seconds and send it to friends. Once the image has been sent, the receiver has to press and hold the photo to view as the timer counts down, and the image 'self destructs'.
Screenshotting on Snapchat is possible, as most smartphone's allow you to capture the screen. Users have to multi task between holding the screen and pressing the relevant buttons, although Snapchat will notify the person if someone does take a screenshot. And, as old-school as it might seem, it’s also possible to take a picture of the screen with another camera.
Why is this imporant you may ask?...
One major worry for parents is that Snapchat can be used for 'Sexting'. As the image expires after a matter of seconds, this gives naughty teens and young adults the opportunity to send each other sexually explicit photos with less risk of them ending up online.
However, with screen capture possible, this may be a lower risk, but a risk nonetheless. I have already come across a Facebook fan page titled 'Snapchat's Funniest Screenshots' that has almost 150k likes. The page is full of screenshots taken from naive users that have snapped themselves naked and sent it on.
I would suggest that parents who allow their children use Snapchat, should have a 'chat' with their kids about the false sense of security that the App may provide!
There may be some people using the application for naughty snaps, but most are having good, clean, fun with the service. Users often send humorous photos of themselves pulling facial expressions, drawing creative doodles or even create videos of people making jokes or dancing. The app has even helped coin the tern 'selfie' - which means taking photos of yourself and sharing them.
Here's some of the fun people are having..
Personally, on a number of occasions I have gone to send a text message and thought, no I will send a funny picture of myself with a caption to get the message across!
For my age group (21-25) using the app, I have found people often use it on nights out to take a funny video or a photo and then send it on to all their contacts.
Here's an example of some of the Snapchat's I've received...
Can Brands Leverage It?
This is the big question from a social media marketing point of view - Is there anything brands can do to make use of the hype that is surrounding the App and it's huge audience?
Due to Snapchat's self destructive content, I think it is quite hard for brands to make use of it. But, that is not to say some brands can't run some experiments. A company could create an account, tell their audiences on other social networks to add them as a friend and then request they send them fun images and videos.
The brand could then screenshot and showcase the best to their audience members on their other social channels. I'm sure the first brand to try something like this will create a huge buzz around the campaign and will foster some great PR.
Snapchat is fun and engaging app and I believe is popularity will grow and grow. The concept is original and the application has brought a whole new medium of communication to smartphone users.
The app is currently valued at around $60 million to $70 million, and the founders of the App have already met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in December just days before Facebook released a cheap knockoff called 'Facebook Poke', however, it sits absent from the top 200 apps!
It can be argued this is because teens are moving away from Facebook, because of reasons like, their parents are on Facebook (and check up on them), the're too many ads and too much spam. Take a look at the 'teens and social media infographic'
I believe if a brand is brave enough to be the first use Snapchat to run a campaign, they could reap some serious rewards!