What is Snapchat?

My explanation of what I believe is the mission and vision of Snapchat

People just don’t understand Snapchat. I didn’t understand Snapchat either when I initially received my internship offer. I applied because I thought it would be cool to work on the hottest app that everybody is using. But I had a few disconcerting questions. What makes it different from the other tech companies? What is the vision and mission of Snapchat? Is it to help people send nudes? Do your nudes actually disappear? I was able to set up calls with a few Snapchat employees in which I asked these exact questions. From those calls, I learned a lot about Snapchat and decided I had enough information to accept the offer. It’s been four months since I accepted the offer and I’m currently one month into my internship. I now feel it’s the right time to share what I’ve learned about Snapchat.

Disclaimer: I’m an intern at Snapchat, the opinions are sourced from my own thoughts or facts that were already made public. This is not endorsed or affiliated with Snapchat.

What is Snapchat and what does it mean to you? What does it mean to everybody else?

Think about these questions for a few moments.

Most people who’ve briefly contemplated what Snapchat is all about probably still don’t know what it is. A lot of people who use it haven’t thought about why they use it and what motivates them to use it, but who has time for that? There is a reason Snapchat is valued at $18 billion dollars and has more than 100 million daily active users.

Allow me to explain.

Keeping Things Real

Snapchat is simple. It allows us to share in-the-moment pictures and videos with your friends and family in a creative and authentic manner. Such a simple vision is creating massive impact in social media, entertainment and technology. It’s an app that is becoming prevalent all over the world. But why?

Snapchat un-taps the real communication people have everyday. You don’t remember every single part of every conversation — like Snapchat, some moment disappear. In the end, you remember what’s important and you have the choice of what memories you want to keep.

It creates real and authentic communication because you know those moments won’t be saved forever. When sharing those moments in the form of a story you don’t have to worry about having the perfectly edited picture or video. You don’t have to worry about creating the most favorited tweets or liked posts.

Nobody’s life is super exciting all the time. You can snap yourself walking your dog, going for a walk, shopping; things you wouldn’t even consider posting on your typical social media websites.

Unlike Snapchat, the big social networks are a social contest. In Snapchat there is no prestige, no social statuses and no likes. This means you don’t have to try hard to make your content the best. You choose who’s snaps you want to see and who sees your snaps. Sending snaps creates a more personal connection and it shows that person that you’re thinking of them. A snap is a digital souvenir you send to the people you care about, more personal than sending a message or tagging a person.

The Best Camera Experience

Snapchat is ultimately a camera app. It starts with being able to capture what you’re experiencing and then allowing you to seamlessly share it with your friends. The main bulk of Snapchat revolves around the use of the camera. Snapchat exploded so quickly because it made it so easy to share pictures and video instantly with your friends. Using this as the foundation, Snapchat is evolving to make this process very fun through a variety of creative tools, including geofilters and lenses.

Now, imagine how many people use their camera everyday, mobile cameras or phone cameras, it’s in the hundreds of millions. For mobile phones, there is no single camera app that is prevalent, most people use what is already installed on their phone. Technology is getting better and better and more people are defaulting to their phone’s camera rather than purchasing a stand alone camera. Snapchat has huge potential to disrupt your camera. If they’re able to execute properly, people will default to Snapchat because it will provide the best camera to capture your moments with the best platform to share them and the best tools to express creativity.

A Focus on Live Content

Perspective is essential at Snapchat. Discover and Stories are products focusing on live, current video stories. These products capture interesting events through many the eyes of many people. Snapchat wants to empower it’s users to tell stories from how they’re personally experiencing it. That’s huge when you can watch an from the front row, from the performer’s perspective or from the back stage — all through Snapchat.

Other big companies are trying to emulate these exact features. It’s a fairly new social paradigm that is becoming very popular now. Twitter and Instagram tried to emulate stories by launching Moments and Explore, respectively. Facebook is moving towards a stronger emphasis on video content by having a feed just for video and allow people to stream live video.

Snapchat is also becoming a platform that makes it easy and fun to watch entertainment and media. Mainly through Discover and it’s partnership with publishers, it’s creating new and exciting content targeted towards the next generation. The last platform like Discover was television, all the big social companies missed out on this opportunity and Snapchat is bringing entertainment and media back to the masses. Snapchat is literally disrupting the entire entertainment industry.

Last Thoughts

Snapchat is building a product that is a lot of things and is currently disrupting multiple industries all at once. Snapchat allows you to share in-the-moment stories with your friends, watch live content from many peoples’ perspectives or consume entertainment and media in a new and exciting manner. It has the most ambitious and hard working team I’ve ever worked with, everybody understands the impact and importance of their work.

A lot of companies have been attempting to copy features straight from Snapchat. Some companies even tried to build Snapchat. A couple companies even attempted to acquire Snapchat. This demonstrates how hard it is to build something like Snapchat.