In a world where Facebook holds a monopoly on every social interaction we have, it must be hard — to say the least — for other social networks to blossom. But there's one that has only been on the scene about five years, and it's here to stay. And that's Snapchat.
Launched in September 2011 by Stanford grads Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, Snapchat has taken the world by storm. What some thought was a fad that would simply fizzle in a few months has become one of the prime modes of communication.
But for those of you who are still stuck on Facebook, Snapchat is simple — send your friend a pic, and it disappears in 10 seconds or less.
So how has Snapchat become such a giant based on such a simple idea?
Snapchat has become so much more than that simple idea. In December 2012, users could send videos in addition to photos. In October 2013, the My Story feature was activated, meaning users could share their snaps on their "story," where all their followers could see them. And between then and now, Snapchat has added geofilters; face filters; the ability to slow, speed up and reverse videos, and more. Snapchat also acquired Bitstrips in 2016, which makes the Bitmoji app. So users can also send cute cartoons of themselves in their snaps. And when you thought Snapchat couldn't grow any more, it announced its first piece of hardware, Spectacles, this year. These are Snapchat's Google Glass-like glasses, which allow a user to take a video for up to 10 seconds, through their own eyes! Spectacles are on sale for $130 at mysterious Snapchat Bots.
Another feature Snapchat offers is the ability to draw on the photos or videos you create. This feature has spawned countless Snapchat artists, who create cool works of art on their photos (some Snap artists to follow: @Georgio.Copter, @Miologie and @TurbanChino). There are also people who create art using the speed and reverse features, along with the filters, set to music and more (follow @Mcnamurrr to see what I mean).
It's not like other apps.
While Twitter and Instagram were trying to copy Facebook by taking bits and pieces of what Facebook offers, Snapchat came out of nowhere and created its own way of communicating. It's done such an incredible job of doing so that Facebook implemented "stories" for Instagram this year. And now the Facebook Messenger app recently launched what seems to be exactly Snapchat. Users can add festive filters, but on Facebook Messenger, they can also add filters and stickers based on their mood, holidays, etc., which is actually kind of neat. Nevertheless, Snapchat's influence is clear.
It's not just for individuals.
Nowadays, companies, TV shows and news sites are all urging followers to check them out on Snapchat, whether for deals, behind-the-scenes footage or for news. Groupon uses Snapchat to promote daily giveaways and coupon codes. The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon sometimes uses Snapchat to give away free tickets — if you can find their intern first. And almost every news site is integrated into Snapchat's Discover feature, including People, Cosmo and BuzzFeed. Whether or not Snapchat is effectively promoting these organizations is to be seen.
All the cool kids are using it.
There are few people I'm friends with on Facebook who are younger than 18. Do you want to know why? It's for "old people." Nowadays, teens are using Snapchat and Instagram (and god knows what else), and, naturally, teens are a key demographic for social networking sites. More than 100 million people use Snapchat — with their largest demographic being millennials. Good on you, Snap!
It's not exactly replacing anything.
While Snapchat is definitely a competitor for other social networking sites, there are still enough differences between Snapchat and Facebook that Facebook shouldn't have to worry about many users leaving. Snapchat isn't conducive for people to promote big announcements or add large volumes of photos. Meanwhile, people upload hundreds of photos into albums on Facebook. And I don't know about you, but I see most people announcing their engagements and pregnancies quite frequently on Facebook and Instagram.
Maybe Snapchat is peaking now, maybe it'll keep growing or maybe it'll fizzle next year. But no matter what happens, it's here, and it's revolutionizing the way we communicate.