At first glance it is hard to see the appeal of a software application that views messages once received, and then self-destructing in ten seconds like a real life Mission Impossible communication, but it seems that the younger generation have taken to it with gusto, although perhaps not with the purpose the founders from Stanford University intended.
The growth of smartphones with the ability to take pictures and send them quickly and cheaply at the press of a button gave rise to two major phenomenon. Mobile journalism has seen virtually all of us become reporters, first on the scene to record history as it pans out in front of our eyes. However, it has been the worrying trend of "sexting" that has seen the app rise in favour.
The sending of explicit images has caused untold pain and suffering to many people, when intimate pictures are distributed to all and sundry. However, Snapchat's unique feature of self-destructing pictures eliminates this problem and that is why the younger generation seem to have started using it with gusto.
Not only is the association of explicit images a worry for users, but brand owners have also started to raise concerns. Due to the nature of the platform, anyone could say anything about a brand without them ever being able to detect it! Granted, messages may only live for a few seconds, but it could be long enough to damage a brand's reputation without any way of knowing. Apps such as Snapchat highlights the importance for brands needing to closely monitor new social apps for damaged brand reputations and build in brand protection strategies to stay one step ahead in the digital world.
Like Pinterest and Instagram, Snapchat has no current revenue streams. However, the fact that it has such a large user base already makes it very attractive to investors who see it as a perfect platform to be able to utilise it as a new channel to market.
Dennis Phelps of IVP, one of the new multi-million dollar investors in SnapChat, stated the reason for the popularity of the product - "The temporary nature of the photo or video often creates a sense of excitement and an urgency of consumption that is rare in this era of information overload".
We will have to wait to see whether any brand will be bold enough to adopt Snapchat as a new medium, or such advertising will simply drive the social media generation on to the next big thing.
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications
3 July 2013
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