Snapchat is perhaps the first ever “frat-friendly” photo sharing app. Snapchat allows users to take photos (and now video) and send to a selected group of friends. The photos will disappear after a specified amount of time. Attempts to take screencaps of pics are logged and the original sender is notified immediately. Want to prove to your friends you actually did that shirtless keg stand? Snapchat has your back and it allows you to keep that photo from derailing your future Senate run.
Snapchat has been around for just under a year and the company has already recorded over a billion snaps sent over their service. The company has recently gotten attention from the likes of Facebook, as the social media giant has announced their own competing service.
It remains to be seen how Facebook’s rapid push into disposable e-photos will pan out. As a Forbes article pointed out today, kids like Snapchat because it’s NOT Facebook. Even so Facebook should be commended for such a rapid shift into a new segment because the last time they waited to move into a rapidly growing mobile area it cost them $1 billion. Let’s also not forget that their attempts to monetize the purchase of Instagram have recently run into some trouble.
Snapchat will be bigger than Instagram because it capitalizes on a technological shift back to phones as a major means of social communication and because it serves the needs of a new generation of consumers that are far more open to taking and sharing risqué pictures with one another just because it’s easy and they can.
The company has garnered a reputation as a means to engage in “sexting” and critics have said this will be a liability to its growth. Those criticisms don’t stand up to the numbers and they stand up even less to the generational changes that have made the use of phones for sending risqué pictures all but a norm.
There are also concerns about how Snapchat will monetize. After all, part of the service’s selling point is a modicum of anonymity; it will be hard to direct ads at customers or get them to agree to share their data on a service that they’re using to send potentially embarrassing photos.
Snapchat may not need to directly access user data. They could get this information via other apps on their users’ phones. At some point they will integrate into social media platforms (Here’s looking at you Twitter) and options for a two-way service exchange will readily present themselves. Unlike Instagram Snapchat is in a good place because they shouldn’t need to collect and share user data themselves, that information would be pushed to them from their social media partner.
If something like this happens then you can bet that the inevitable “SnapAds” and “Snap Sales” won’t be far off. Avenues for viral marketing are wide open with this kind of service, particularly if Snapchat can expand without losing the intimacy that they’ve built up as the driving force behind their brand.
Until then download Snapchat for iOS and Google Play and start sharing pics and video with your friends.