The Number 1 Reason You Personally Need to Get on Snapchat


By Carrie Kerpen

Note: If you are under the age of 30, there are a million articles you can read about Snapchat that will be more interesting to you than this one. I think this one is my personal favorite — as it has more stats than you could ever want about this network.  This article is written for people over 30, who are confused by a network seemingly built on the premise of "erasable media" and "vomiting rainbows."

As marketers, we've heard all the buzz about Snapchat. With 100 million daily active users, and 30% of all millennials reporting daily use of the app (77% of college students, alone), Snapchat has gone from the "naked picture app" to an important network for brands to watch.

But today, I'm not speaking to you as a brand marketer. I'm speaking to you as a person. I'm telling you today that you personally need to get on Snapchat — right now. It may feel silly, or uncomfortable, or outside of your comfort zone. It may feel unnecessary, as most of you reading this won't have friends on the network. Here is the #1 reason you personally need to get on Snapchat:

User experience across the internet is changing, and Snapchat will help you understand how.

As a CEO of a social media company, I should know and love Snapchat. In fact, we have brands that use it daily. But when I went to really master use of the app myself, I was dumbfounded. As an almost-forty-something, everything about this app was counterintuitive. And that's when I realized it: I was not "supposed" to get it. 

What makes Snapchat such a must do for people like me and you is that it IS counterintuitive. We are aging out of digital communication as we know it. We came into social media in the age of forums, of Facebook, of Twitter. And this is different. Here are just a few things you can learn from personally being on Snapchat:

1. Swiping versus scrolling: On Snapchat, if you want to find something, generally you'll need to swipe left or right, or sometimes down. The concept of scrolling, like the good ol' Facebook News Feed, is pretty irrelevant on Snapchat. You do scroll through names of people who have posted "Snapchat Stories," but you only see their stories if you click on them.

2. One to one, or who cares: On Snapchat, you have two options. You can post a public "story" that's shared to everyone, or you can send a message out to select individuals. On a Snapchat story, there's no public commenting or engaging. You can reply directly to an individual, but it's private. And so, it eliminates the concept of public liking or engaging. This eliminates the "herd engagement" mentality  and therefore, when you get engagement, it's because someone really loved what you had to say. 

3. In the moment: There's no pre-planned life on Snapchat. In fact, other than a reply to a direct message, you have to take the picture in the moment.  Example: I was at a wedding recently. I wanted to take pictures and share them of the bride and groom. If I wanted to add it to my Snapchat story, or send a message to my friends, I had to be in the Snapchat app to do so. In addition, my stories and my messages only lasted for a limited time. Snapchat may change these features over time, but I think overall it's a shift towards a need to have content in and then OUT of our lives. We're inundated, and the new user experience really celebrates the concept of fleeting content.

4. Selfie-Deprecating: There's been a ton of articles written about millennials and their narcissistic "selfie obsessions," but I believe that if you watch Snapchat, you can see the real behavior shift in usage of things like selfies. Snapchat allows you to draw on yourself, to add emojis to yourself, and even to make yourself do strange things like vomit rainbows and turn your eyes into hearts. It's not that duck faces are going out of style; it's that selfies are taking a more self-expressive twist. You'll see that people are unafraid to be silly on Snapchat, and to make fun of themselves on social media. I may be an optimist, but I think you'll see a lot more self-actualization on social media in the years to come.

I hope you pick up your phone right now and send a vomit rainbow selfie right to me I'm @carriekerpen on Snapchat. I'll be proud of you, and you'll learn an awful lot about the future of the internet.