When I’m wrong about something, I admit it. I don’t shy away from my errors and attempt to sweep them under the carpet.
In 2012, I TOTALLY blew off Snapchat. I saw it as nothing more than a sexting app for flirtatious twenty-somethings. What could possibly be the value of a mobile app equivalent of a tired disappearing ink magic trick? Who cares if the content disappears? Especially since the recipient could screen capture the content and bypass the very feature that was supposed to make Snapchat great?
I was underwhelmed by every feature in this app and advised my clients not to bother with it. Besides, most companies hadn’t mastered much larger and more established social networks (Reddit anyone?). Why be a “first mover” on an app that appeared to focus on erasing content rather than preserving it.
Boy was I dead wrong!
The Wild Beast that is Social Video
As Nancy Grace so astutely points out, “Snapchat has over 10 billion daily views on its video content. Let’s wait a moment for that number to sink in. This exceeds even YouTube, a website that is built on showcasing video content and straight double of their last year numbers.”
Even though YouTube is fuzzy on just how many daily views they receive, all of my searches supported this claim. In fact, in 2016, Snapchat appears to be the leading social network when it comes to daily video views, exceeding Facebook’s 8 billion.
Now, you can make the argument that both Facebook and Snapchat’s video views are inflated given the autoplay nature of these videos. But we’re splitting hairs until the likes of Nielsen can report on television commercials actually watched (not just aired). Why hold social media to a higher standard than what traditional media is held to (especially since television still commands the lion’s share of the media dollars)?
Simply put, video continues to dominate the growth of both social and mobile platforms and there’s not sign of this slowing down. The fact that Snapchat leads the pack is nothing short of incredible.
The Hidden Magic of Disappearing Content
While Snapchat empowers its users to determine what content lives on via it’s “Stories” platform and what content disappears within 24 hours of posting, I can honestly say that what I saw as a huge weakness is actually a powerful strength. Specifically, the fact that the content doesn’t live in perpetuity gives Snapchat a sense of urgency that most other social media sites and mobile apps lack. If you want to be part of the community, you need to pay attention to what’s being posted. Snapchat brilliantly leverages FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out. Didn’t see that cool content yesterday? Too bad. You should have been there. Perhaps they will repost it or drop it into their stories. But there’s always a chance they won’t and that fear of missing out on culturally relevant hot content drives daily consumption habits that most other social networks lack.
The attitude of “it will always be there” permeates most other social networks. In this regard, Snapchat stands out as a contrarian and has benefited tremendously from this unique perspective.
Learn From My Mistakes
The takeaway here is twofold. First, if you’re using video on your social channels (and you should be), then you need to find ways to leverage Snapchat to deliver your video. There are lots of articles already published on how to do this.
“That fear of missing out on culturally relevant hot content drives daily consumption habits that most other social networks lack.”
Second, and this is the more important of the two, when you find yourself reacting negatively to something other people are excited about, rather than dismiss it, look for an opportunity to learn. That was my lesson around Snapchat which is why I wanted to share it with you. By dismissing what is clearly a powerful platform, I missed an opportunity to learn, experiment and benefit from Snapchat’s growth over the past few years.
I can’t tell you what the next Snapchat is going to be, but I can tell you that when your team comes to you with something they are excited about, it’s worth spending some time to understand what’s driving their excitement and how it could apply to your business objectives.