Where Snapchat’s value truly lies

My buddy Ed (@ClearPreso) recently wondered on Twitter what the real draw was on Snapchat and believes it just a flash in a pan technology. I wouldn’t blame him for making this assertion but I think he (like most people) doesn’t see it’s true value.

Some “experts” believe it lies in the push and hold requirement: “If your thumb is pressed against the screen, it’s very likely that you’re staring at what’s in front of you.”. Well, duh. But guess what? Sites like Forbes and JOE.ie put an ad right in front of me at the start too and I just skip it.

If Snapchat users don’t want to see ads then they won’t open them.

I’d probably open the messages I’d get from the likes of Heineken – companies that produce great ads, basically, who have solved the attention-grabbing dilemma by being creative (who’d have thought that would work!?).

No, Snapchat’s value lies in the truly unique connection it provides to your friends. Bear with me for a second here.

A picture paints a thousand words and when I’m keeping in touch with friends – a photo can be far more effective than a message. Even better if it’s just a photo of my buddy pulling a stupid face to make me laugh.

So why don’t people just use iMessage/WhatsApp/etc?

Because of what a Snapchat communicates.

Sending a Snapchat is like a friendly wave rather than a conversation starter. When I get a Snapchat, I know the sender doesn’t expect a reply.

If my buddy sends me a stupid photo in iMessage – I have to try think of a witty reply (okay, I don’t have to but dammit I’ve got a funnyman reputation to uphold). At the very least I need to send back a polite LOL. With Snapchat, I just laugh and move on with my life.

What’s more: it’s much more personal. Unlike Instagram et al, the Snapchats I send are only for my friends.

Self-destructive photos also allow the sender to be as stupid/creative/sexy as they want – relatively safe in the knowledge that only the intended viewer will see it. Imagine every joke or story you told in real life was recorded to tape for future reference (hi there NSA!), you’d think twice before telling it. Snapchat allows me to be as dumb as I want (which is a lot) but without fearing any repercussions.

And a big plus of the self-destruction nature: it means the sender puts a lot less time and effort into taking the photo. This contentment with a lack of quality means your average session time with the app is probably quite small but encourages a greater number of sessions.

I was seriously skeptical about Snapchat’s value until I started using it regularly and I’m still not convinced it could prove any more valuable a marketing tool than Facebook/Twitter etc. No, Snapchat’s true value lies in the fact that we may be on the brink of a new paradigm of communication – with Snapchat as the forerunner.

As an aside: if you’re putting together a presentation then you need to speak with Ed. Really. Do it now.

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