This week at the adHOME headquarters we decided to discover the Snapchat app for ourselves with a tutorial on the platform. Snapchat was created five years ago by two college students. It was initially called “Picaboo” and was only available to iOS users.
What makes Snapchat different from all the other modern ways of sharing visual content? Everything you share, photos and videos, are temporary. After you take a photo or video, you can choose who to send it to and you can select how many seconds you want your recipient to see the photo, after which it disappears forever. Alternatively, you can make your photo or video public under “My Story,” where it will live for only 24 hours after which it too will disappear forever. Unlike Instagram, you cannot publicly comment on any pictures or videos. You cannot “like” or “share” a snap. Also, Snapchat does not have a desktop counterpart; the app is only available on smartphones and can only be used vertically.
The photos, called “snaps”, are not supposed to be staged. They are intended to be quick, candid and “real” snapshots of one’s daily life. Snapchat is designed to capture the full range of human emotion in real moments. This really resonates with Millennials, who can spot fake or posed pictures from a mile away. In fact, 76% of Millennials use Snapchat. These teenagers and young adults are now taking pictures of things their parents would have never taken pictures of, including daily meals and outfits and of course, selfies, which can now be taken with a variety of fun filters.
Snapchat has over 100 million daily users. Only 35% of Facebook users post pictures once a month, whereas 65% of Snapchatters (or “Snapsters” as I prefer to call them) take photos daily. From an advertising perspective, this means that Snapchat can sell their advertising spaces for much higher prices than Facebook can because Snapchat has so many more daily views. Snapchat is reported to have over 7 billion daily video views. I think it’s safe to say that Snapchat is taking over the world.
Unsurprisingly, Snapchat is highly coveted; it has been reported that both Google and Facebook have tried to acquire it to no avail. To no one’s surprise, Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel is one of the richest people on the planet, as his company is worth an estimated $20 billion. Despite his riches, however, Evan prefers to dress simply in plain t-shirts. Nonetheless, his laid-back appearance is not indicative of a lack of passion for his work. In fact, Evan is extremely passionate about his app, which he says helps young people communicate with images rather than words and, subsequently, helps them piece together their identity one snap at a time.
After this brief but thorough contextualization, we hooked up a phone to the projector. We clicked on the ghost icon and up popped a camera interface. We then proceeded to take several selfies under various filters and custom London, Ontario geofilters. Many of us joined in enthusiastically and quickly became partial to the “doggy” filter which asks you to open your mouth to reveal an animated dog tongue. All of these face filters, which rely on facial recognition, made me wonder if Snapchat is stealthily building a top-secret international facial recognition database for Interpol, but I put my conspiracy theory on hold for the rest of the discussion.
Suddenly, panic irrupted across the boardroom as Tony asked about the possibility of someone screenshotting and subsequently saving your snaps that you intended to be temporary. This made Nik question what it is exactly that Tony is so keen on hiding, but this line of thought was interrupted by Jason, who still seemed unsure on how to properly use the app. Many of his questions were scoffed at by fellow adHOMErs, but we took every question seriously and answered them clearly and expertly.
We then look at all the various ways in which TV shows, TV channels and big brands like Audi are partnering with Snapchat for cross-promotions and advertising opportunities, as well as how, thanks to Snapchat Live, anyone with the app can record user-generated content of live events like the red carpet at the Oscars or sporting events, for instance, and make it public for anyone to view.
Ultimately, my fellow adHOMErs and I learned that Snapchat is a lot more than just sharing photos with friends; it’s changing the way we communicate with our friends, the way we watch live events, and, perhaps most importantly to us, the way brands will be recognized in the future.