As you may have read in my previous post The Latest Victim of Social Media Darwinism, how I talk about Vine’s lack of attention to detail that lead to an unfavorable pivot in application execution.
Instagram played a huge role in the demise of Vine as we knew it, but now it seems that they’re going directly after another competitor, Snapchat. Snapchat claims that they’re a “camera” company not an app but with 161 million daily active users that’s pretty hard to believe that they’re solely a camera company.
Snapchat started as a camera app to send to friends but what made this app interesting in the digital age, is that I didn’t save those photos anywhere. Once your receiver viewed your photo it was gone forever.
I think the one thing Snapchat really hit out of the park was resoling the issues of oversharing. We all have experienced that one person who was sharing every moment of their day in an endless stream of photos and blog posts that never seemed to disappear. With Snapchat Stories users could dump all of that information in 10 second segments that would disappear after 24 hours. This resolved the impending stench of someone viewing your fancy meatloaf you cooked a week ago. Snapchat had a huge time advantaging in the market as the only social media doing this. Shame that didn’t last too long.
Steve Jobs once said, “Great Artists, Steal”. Well without a doubt Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues at Instagram did just that. They took that very same concept and built it in the Instagram’s very easily navigated user interface. That brings up another interesting topic. The idea of Snapchats maze of a UI (User Interface). Their UI revolves around swiping what feels like entire windows up and down, but until you understand the map of the entire UI, it’s easy to get lost.
Ok, now lets break these two apps down to a personal level. Starting with Snapchat. When it comes to adding “Friends” or “Followers” you can manually type in their username, scan their QR code, or use their local search for finding followers within your proximity. Snapchat also links up with your telephone number so as you search for friends if they have their phone number linked that option to follow them will come right up.
This process feels very personal. It forces you to already have a connection with this person. It would take a tremendous amount of trial and error to stumble across some new original content.
Instagram on the other hand, with it’s massive core user database, makes it simple to find new photos, videos, and original content to engage with via hashtags, links with other social media accounts, and geotags. These tools drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your conented inevitably creating more engagement. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for as social media users. We want to engage with others. If I’m interested in checking out a sunset in southern California it becomes very easy. Try doing that same thing with Snapchat.
Snapchat fails to provide the validation that so many social media users so often seek. Sure you can see who’s viewed your snap story but that’s it. If the the man juggling bowling pins in the park was only given the list of names of people who has passed him in that park that day would he continue juggling? My guess is no. He seeks that same validation of seeing a child smile as he performs his trick or watching people stop and take a photo of his act to motivate him to continue. Without the validation and feedback that likes and comments provide I can’t see Snapchat sustaining anytime of longevity in their current state.
I know I failed to talk about the little features of each such as filters, doodling, or even Snapchat’s new Spectacles because, honestly they don’t matter. It’s the social interactive side of these apps that is going to lead to their success or their demise. People don’t want to post notes on bulletin boards in their high schools anymore. They want to feel proud of their content and post it around the world seeking validation from millions, not just their small group of friends.
Snapchat stands strong by their claim of being a “Camera” not an “Application”. I’m not sure how their investors are going to feel about that as they prepare for their initial public offering. Until they realize their own potential as the social media platform they are and build around that I think I’ll invest my money elsewhere.