I joined Snapchat in late 2011 after hearing about it on Twitter. I was there, but no one I knew was using it and I wasn’t quite sure how to find people. At Christmas, I noticed my nieces in high school were using it. The following summer, I noticed all my nieces were using it (high school & college). From Wikipedia: In their first blog post, the company describes their mission: “Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion—not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
The first interface was very limited, you had to hold your finger on the picture to see it, which was clunky but ensured user engagement. Many people were using it to send pics they wanted no one else to see or would disappear within 3 seconds, which is likely how it got it’s sexting moniker. They’ve since added video, a 24-hour story feature, and chat.
You can take a pic or video, send it to a Snapchat friend(s) and/or add it to your 24-hour story. You can download a pic to your phone before sending it, and you can download your whole story each day as well. After that, they’re gone.
Chased off of Facebook by parents and grandparents, Snapchat became the place to go to send things to your specific group friends. It seems like it replaced Instagram too for those that wanted to tell a longer story (more than 1 pic a day which is the polite way to use Instagram) as well as only giving access to specific people. It has evolved to continue that function as well as publicizing brands and higher celebrity usage. Compare what a celebrity shares on Instagram vs. Snapchat. On Instagram, it seems like product placement, promotion, and tagging the people who sell what they’re using, say a type of self-tanner (add in all the useless Instagram comments like “follow me for 10,000 new followers). On Snapchat, much of it is the celebrity’s daily routine, their dog, maybe 1 segment about the DVD they’re selling, and then a party with their friends. It feels much more immersive. I started following my team’s Snapchat (Manchester City), and now you have the experience of getting ready for match-day without all the troll comments you see on Instagram.
I’ve started using it again to become more acquainted with the new features as well as keeping up on what friends and family are doing, and a few celebrities and sports teams. At first, I disliked the temporariness of it vs. Instagram, but now that I now I can download segments I want to keep as well as my story, its utility is growing on me.