Why Snapchat needs to reform it’s functions for continued growth
There’s no question that Snapchat is already massive, very popular with people born in the late 1990’s and already has 200 million users.
Some say Snapchat might even kill Facebook and take over the world.
All of that is just hype however. Snapchat is no doubt an amazing marketing tool, but it’s core functionality and concept will soon reach the peak of it’s users. So the King Zuckerberg is safe.
Core idea of Snapchat
The core idea of Snapchat is sharing pictures, interesting things that have happened to you or simply grabbing some attention. It’s the new Facebook wall for your friends, fans or people you’ve met online with a bit more anonymity.
Personally, I have been using Snapchat for the last months and it’s starting to look like the Facebook wall more and more. The key difference is that people:
a) don’t include much details. It’s a snap of the “adventure” or the day.
b) snap interesting, unusual/random experiences – people can get curious and want to talk in more details. Unless it’s purely for attention.
c) use Snapchat as secondary network – you don’t really expect to keep in touch with a stranger by adding them on Snapchat
d) don’t know how to use it and make their stories boring or try to include other forms of communication not supported by the platform
So this brings us to the key flaws of Snapchat:
Selfie/photo communication only
The selfie technology on Snapchat is very well developed and so is the photo filters. Everything else is lacking however and people want to share “snaps” of their lives by other means.
Increasingly, I have seen people typing up a message on an empty black image, communicating the words not the video or picture. This is the result of people acquiring a big followship and starting to use this as the main social network. The functions don’t allow for this yet to the level people wish and pictures/video remain prioritized by Snapchat.
Deleted private text messages
The concept of limiting the photos to a time makes sense, but the fact of deleting messages makes no sense at all. That interesting picture from a trip your friend took? Don’t bother asking about it on Snapchat.
This flaw is so bad that in fact it goes against human nature. Humans like to externalize everything, write things down so that we don’t have to worry about them and can remind ourselves if we need. This is why we invented writing.
The fact that the attention span of people is dropping, doesn’t help, too. I’ve had numerous conversations on Snapchat where I say something, leave the window to come back to an answer 2 minutes later and have a hard time remembering the context of the answer.
Again – this does not simply suck but goes against human nature and encourages people to bring those conversations on other platforms. This also limits the users to purely socializing – people conduct business over Facebook and WhatsApp, believe it or not. Unless you’re doing something incredibly shady where you wish the messages gone ASAP, Snapchat in its current form will never take over for more serious and discussion based text communication.
Snapchat encourages people to go off Snapchat
There’s a very limited scope of sharing contents within Snapchat. This again is a fundamental need of humans – we like to share cool things we encounter.
This also give the content producers a way of reflecting on their contents. The only way you know you’re really onto some really creative snaps is if you have a bunch of Snapchat friends and your Snaps end up in some of the media sites, like here.
The future of Snapchat
The way I see it, Snapchat is fine as is but if it’s to continue to grow and continue to exist as the audience ages and becomes more serious, there are two options:
Address the flaws, make it directly compete against Facebook – that’s what all the hype is about anyway. The truth is also that Snapchat might even pull this off, as the youth from across the world are using desktop computers less and less – everything is mobile.
When hiring for ClickDo, I’ve personally observed young people aged 16-18 having a horribly slow keyboard typing speed and awkward postures. So desktop is dying for the young and mobile is to take over – Snapchat can be ready for that, given it reforms.
Make Snapchat into a Youtube/Twitter hybrid
The other obvious space Snapchat can go into is following one’s idols, favorite brands, influencer or simply random people that are good on the camera.
This might be the better way to go, as again humans like to follow and engage with a figure, while keeping a passive stance. That’s why the society has famous people in the first place.
Great examples are youtube channels and brands showing behind the scenes footage or the public extroverted personality figures that will emerge from the platform itself.