Gone are the days when we struggled twisting our digital cameras and cellphones, hoping for the best that the camera focused on us, and posing our best smiles which may even pass for a grimace. In the advent of dual cameras, of the most-awaited front cameras, the “selfie” culture improved and drastically expanded. Snapchat, a social media site, was one of those which has taken this age’s “selfie” culture and socializing to the next level, even to the point of having other platforms adapt to its mode of expression. From its prototype developed in 2011, it rose to popularity around 2016 with billions of active users and daily video views. But what exactly is with Snapchat that made it take the millennia by storm and influence other social networking sites?
Snapchat offered something new. Everyone knew that the point of social networking is to connect – and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others covered that already. Snapchat, however, allowed its users to share pictures and videos about their day. The catch, and what everyone became hooked with, was its 24-hour expiry. This compels users to check their Snaps as frequent as possible, and adds a bit of a twist and excitement to story sharing. The sharing of these media was also very accessible as the user would only tap their friends’ icons and their “stories” will immediately play out.
The cute camera filters!
This might just be what Snapchat is the most famous for: their filters (the dog filter to be exact!). As more and more people are engaged in selfies or groupfies, Snapchat took this advantage of adding cute and brilliant filters that are fun to try out. These filters range from dog filters that lick the screen when you open your mouth, to ghost filters that make you look like one easily and with hardly any buffer. The point is most of these filters actually make its users look their best by enhancing the picture itself, not just because of the cartoonish effects, but the entire photograph-taking experience per se. It is hard to make you look ugly with these filters.
They also offer filters that feature your location, or whatever the holiday or feast day during that particular time. It also allowed its users to send their filter designs to the management.
Simple layout and mechanics
What users had really liked about Snapchat was its simple layout. This allows easier story sharing as a user could only tap a friend’s icon, which were even simply listed along with other mutuals list, and stories will show. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where there tends to be a crowded layout, offering different features (especially Facebook!). Its design was just a bit of minimalist design, with some of the site’s trademarks, and mini features.
It also does not really pressure any user to make their stories appear good. There is hardly a need for the users to keep their stories look good all the time, and to take care of it in general, unlike Instagram where there really is a growing hype about keeping their feed aesthetically pleasing. Snapchat encourages presentation of the simple, genuine you and your stories about your day. It will be expired tomorrow, anyway and there is a brand new day to cover in your Snap stories.
Messaging with a twist
Messaging and information dissemination are mainly what social networking sites are all about. Snapchat adds a twist to messaging by introducing snapstreaks where a user sending Snaps with another for several days straight will develop a snapstreaks with them. This is shown usually with a fire emoji next to the number of their streak days. A day missed snapping with each other will result to losing your days-earned streak.
Other emojis also signify different activities. A yellow, red, or pink heart/s means you have been bestfriends with one another by sending most snaps to each other more than your other mutuals, and more. These emojis may also be changed by the user.
Snapchat also introduced a sense of surveillance where they notify you if someone took a screenshot of your conversation, your snaps, or your stories.
Along with its popularity comes plenty of people joining Snapchat and making it more fun. Even celebrities join Snapchat which makes their fans all over the world get a glimpse of how they spend their days. With its simple and fun orientation, plus wider reach, Snapchat has made the social network tightly knit.
Snapchat also has this feature that shows you interesting articles and ads. All ads are conveniently placed in one feature that makes the layout less bombarding. There are even users that use snaps to advertise their products, like Kylie Jenner when she was selling her famous yet over-prized lipkits. More fans stay tuned to Kylie’s Snapchat account as they wait for her products and lipstick swatches.
Both Instagram and Facebook became rather set aside with the popularity of Snapchat. Also due to these innovations, Instagram and Facebook adapted and introduced their own features having the same as Snapchat’s. Instagram launched their own Stories feature in August 2016 with their version of filters and messaging. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom admits to Snapchat deserving the credit for the story-sharing style, according to Fortune. However, he says that the said copying was just a matter of competition. The Instagram’s Stories has been a success as times are changing. Facebook also launched they My Day feature to counter this same socialisation.
Today, Snapchat remains accessible but due to several updates and changes, it failed to maintain the same success it had. Many people have complained of their layout changes which made story-sharing less accessible, and the layout, itself bombarding. It has also gone through scandals, like joking about domestic violence concerning Rihanna. Must Snapchat have forgotten the exact purpose of their media, which are simplicity in spite of fun twists, initmacy with the community, and the fact that nothing is permanent – which is exactly what Snapchat stories uphold? Despite these, time is sure to pass, and trends are bound to change.