What the hell is Snapchat for ?

If you find it hard to keep up with the ever increasing number of social media apps, join the club. Where to focus? Well, if you're targeting Gen Z (otherwise called today's teenagers) you probably need to get your head around Snapchat. Since launching in 2011 it has grown like crazy (see below) and only three years later had 100 million monthly active users (MAU). And reports suggesthiuhiuythat this number could now be approaching 200 million users. A recent $485mill fund raising values the company at, wait for it, $10-20 billion. 

So, to help you understand what the hell Snapchat is all about, I've enrolled two experts to do a guest blog: my two teen twin daughters, Chloé and Elodie, age 13. This is Chloe's first post, and Elodie's second, having already done one on Youtubers, here.

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 [Guest post by Chloe and Elodie Taylor]

1. What's Snapchat for?

We started using Snapchat to send photos/videos (colour coded red/purple). The most famous feature of Snapchat, that you may know, is being able to view a photo/video you get only once, and for a limited time (between 1 and 10 seconds), before it disappears. 

Personal “Stories” now allow us to also upload a set of images and/or videos showing what we're up to today. Your Story can be viewed by contacts without it disappearing immediately. They can view it as many times as they like, BUT only within 24 hours of it being uploaded. This is clever, as it means you want to keep checking to see who has a new story, as they last only 24 hours. It helps us keep up to date with our friends by showing them what we're doing, and seeing what they're up to.

Finally, a newly introduced and important feature is a messaging system to contact friends, sort of replacing the need to use Whatsapp. Messages (colour coded blue) disappear as soon as you swipe them, athough unlike simples images, you can save them if you want.

Here is what one of our home pages looks like. In a glance we can see what we've sent, what we've received and what's been read.

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2. Why we use Snapchat more than Facebook!

A big question our dad keeps asking is, “Why do you use it more than Facebook?"* Well, the first answer that comes to mind is that it is more private. Our parents are not on Snapchat*, but they are on Facebook along with our cousins, aunts, uncles and even our grandparents! They're all lurking on your page waiting to shout at you as soon as you post a selfie that is “too grown up” or a photo that “Your family wouldn’t like to see”! Snapchat is an app just for you and your friends where you are in control of the viewing of the photo. 

* Note from Dad, Facebook use by Gen Z dropped from 42% in Autumn 2013 to just 23% a year later, according to author Sparks and Honey, here.

** Note from Dad: I'm signing up now girls 😉

3. What about brands

A new feature recently introduced is called ‘Discovery’. This is a form of advertising for certain brands that you only have to view if you decide to. Examples of brands involved are Sky News, Sky Sports, Yahoo, National Geographic, MTV and Cosmopolitan. If you see something that is interesting, you you can read more by tapping on an arrow at the bottom of the screen. You can also “share” this with your contacts if you want to.

Of these brands, the only one we have really looked at is Cosmopolitan, as this is an online magazine for girls, sharing tips and gossip. We think this an effective way of communicating, because the content is more interesting than a normal advert. And even if a small percentage of Snapchat viewers look at it, that's still a lot of viewers. 

However, Discovery can sometimes be a bit irritating. We don’t really want to see all these random brands' stories popping up on our screen all the time, especially ones we're not interested in, such as National geographic and Sky news. That's more for Dad.

And that is my cue to take by the keyboard. Thanks girls. 

In conclusion, if you are a brand targeting teens and you have a brand with lifestyle appeal and lots of content, then you should be looking at Snapchat as a channel if you aren't already. But if you're a brand that lacks relevant content for Gen Z, than being on Snapchat is a bit like a dad trying to crash a teenage disco. Not good.