Why Snapchat Matters in 2016

In 2010, I went on a job interview with a tech company that made mobile apps. Toward the end of the interview, the interviewer told me one of their clients was a major bank who wanted a Facebook app for their customers to use for transactions.  At that time, Facebook games and apps were the best way to trick unsuspecting users into being hacked.  I told him I couldn’t see why anyone would want to do banking through Facebook.

He told me with a stern tone: “You are not the ideal end-user for this. You are comfortable with banking on a website. It’s the kids who are in college right now who will bank through Facebook.”

I’ve never seen an app for banking through Facebook, but I learned a valuable lesson that day: whatever young people are doing with technology needs to be noticed and utilized.  Pretending it doesn’t exist or it’s not relevant is what got the dinosaurs killed.


A lot of people are going to dismiss Snapchat as just an app for sending inappropriate pictures. To be fair, plenty of people use it for that. But it’s a huge open door because it combines the abilities of a lot of other social media platforms.

1.    An Alternative to Facebook: Your parents are on Facebook. Likely your grandparents are on Facebook. Your boss is on Facebook. And they’re all judging you based on your posts. Do you want to be judged for everything you do? Of course not. No one does.

•    Enter Direct Snaps. Take a picture or a video and send it to one person or multiple people. It’ll be gone after they watch it, but you’ll get a notification if they replay it or take a screenshot. Keep your circle of friends tight. It becomes a lot more personal that way.

2.    An Alternative to Instagram: I’ve been in love with Instagram for over 2 years, but there’s been a subtle shift to how it’s used. Engagement is dropping off. I am constantly looking at people’s followers vs. number of likes their pictures get, and there’s a huge disconnect. Even people who are famous get less than 10% of their followers liking a picture.  I like to use Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as an example. He’s got 49 million followers, yet gets 500,000 likes on a great picture. My math skills aren’t great, but even I know that something’s up there. Does he have fake followers? Probably.  Are his pictures going to be liked by everyone? Maybe not. But it seems a lot of people have followers who are engaging very little.

•    Enter Snapchat Stories. Take a picture or a video, post it, and see exactly who watched it. If only 10 people watched my video or looked at my picture, I know those 10 people took the time to watch and actually care. That says a lot.  And I know exactly who they are.

3.    An Alternative to Periscope/Meerkat: This is my favorite way to use Snapchat. Periscope and Meerkat let you broadcast video to an audience. But those videos are often too long, and where’s the best part of the video that’s relevant for me? It could be 12 minutes in, or it could be 35 minutes in. We are too busy to watch all of your video stream to find out.

•    Enter Snapchat Stories. Record yourself teaching or doing something interesting for 10 seconds and add it to your Story. It stays up for 24 hours, so anyone who follows you can watch it and comment.

4.    An Alternative to Twitter: Twitter is a great platform. It’s the world’s largest cocktail party, with tons of great conversations happening in real-time around the globe. The amount of noise is completely overwhelming. What’s the point of following someone if it’s impossible to keep up with their tweets? Why do you have use multiple interfaces like the Twitter website and apps like Tweetdeck to develop relationships?  Too many people follow others just in hopes of getting followed back.

•    Enter Snapchat’s Direct Message feature. Text through the app directly, or send Direct Snaps of pictures or video. The messages are undoubtedly going to be brief, to the point, and they don’t need to be seen by everyone – only the people that matter.

Social media platforms can be overwhelming, and you might feel pressure to be on all of them. Just be on the one that matters in 2016.

Next Monday: How to Make a Snapchat account, find your friends, and start posting