Being an old fart (late 40's), I struggled at first to understand the value of Snapchat. Just the same as there are some sound frequencies only young(er) people can hear, I think Snapchat is one of those applications only younger people will get right away. Us old farts have to work at it.
My initial impression
The UI feels disjointed. It's not intuitive at all to me. Perhaps they'll add a lot more features (or not) in the future. I was trying to understand its value. Why do 100+ Million people use this thing? Unlike all of the other major social applications, this thing feel like it's for a bunch of kids who overshare everything, trying to be the next Kim Kardashian. I even went so far as to follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Snapchat to try to understand how he's leveraging it.
My revised impression
Recently, I started really thinking about how to communicate my message to others. I want to tell my story, in the hope it helps others. Last night, I had an ah-ha moment. Let's compare Snapchat to my blog or to Twitter. For my blog, people come to me looking for help in the areas of project management, Agile, and Kanban. I've even been contacted by a few people dealing with ADD/ADHD or looking to do meetups or unconferences. I used to blog every day but now it's more like once a week or month. Still, I'm very happy to share what I've learned in all of those domains. Unfortunately, most of the conversations come from the comments. That's good but there can be a delay and we can lose context in time. On my Twitter account, I have several active conversations weekly. I search specific topics and see if I can help anyone. I may also retweet or like something every day or share a photo from Instagram.
My ah-ha moment
The secret to Snapchat is in the exchange of value. First, let's consider there is an investment to telling your story through YouTube videos, blog posts, and even Twitter posts or snaps. What you're hoping for is you're going to get a return on your investment, by way of subscribers, followers, or likes. Some people want even more than that. Some may want a lead or a deal, in order to create more content. With Snapchat, they have lowered the bar (time investment) so low, you have to change the way you're thinking about this. They want you to share your story. They want you to share everything. But, they want you to limit your story to 10 seconds or less. They don't want you to overproduce (edit) what you are posting. You can't even upload a picture or video. Currently, you have to create a snap right from your camera. The whole system is position to share a story with as little effort as possible.
You're not being narcissistic or self-absorbed
I originally thought that Snapchat was for kids who just like to look at themselves or believe they are "special". I honestly don't think they care. So, why should we? They see it as a tool that allows them to share their stories and equally enjoy stories. If they don't get to it within 24 hours, the snap expires and they don't feel compelled to stress out over it. In my world, if I see I'm running behind on reading blog posts or podcasts, I start to stress out a little. I feel compelled to binge on them because they don't go away. Snapchat just took the 10 independent blogs or podcasts that I subscribe to, which could take hours a day to keep up with, and forced them to only last 10 seconds at a time and then expire in 24 hours.
How to leverage Snapchat
It's just a matter of time that the demographic of people using Snapchat is going to shift from kids in their teens and early twenties, to people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Until it hits critical mass, I believe it's a bit of a land grab. People should start getting really good at telling a visual story 10 seconds at a time. If you follow someone on Snapchat, you're going to have the behind-the-curtain look into their life. If you're following people on Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and even Twitter, you get a much more scripted and polished persona. Snapchat will provide a level of authenticity not present in current media. It will also help steer people to those other platforms, one 10-second snap at a time.
How to snap with me
- Download Snapchat on your phone.
- Open Snapchat.
- Choose to add me as a friend. You can add by username (derekhuether) or by snapcode (ghost image below)
- If you're over 20 years old, I would recommend you Google "How to use Snapchat".
- After two people follow each other, it's easy to have a private chat. I could post a video and then you could send me a private message, asking me a question.