I don’t think Snapchat is screwed. When I look at Snapchat, I believe I see what investors see. Huge potential to be a more visual iteration of Twitter. One that will consume people’s attention with more visual (& intimate) messages from the people and brands they trust.
Currently, Snapchat is largely being used to send private (disappearing) photos to small number of people. Or just with their significant other (can’t find the link, but I watched an interview with Sarah Lacy months ago and she said that’s how she uses it). In some cases, people send snaps to all their contacts at once.
Snapchat started off far in the private camp, but I’ll wager a guess they will quickly move into the public camp over the coming year or two to compete with Facebook and Twitter. Here’s how I predict Snapchat’s product will play out over the next few years…
1. More people will start using Snapchat the way they use Twitter. To communicate to everyone. Some of my friends already do this.
2. People increasingly will be annoyed that more and more of the snaps in their inbox are not private. I’m already annoyed with this dynamic.
3. Snapchat will tweak the product so that it’s transparent when something is a private snap, versus a message sent to multiple people. People will start to ignore the ones that are not personal.
4. Switch to a follow model, and make it easy to subscribe to updates from specific people who you find interesting. People will have the option to send snaps out publicly as one-to-many snaps, as Gary Vaynerchuck predicts.
5. Discovery of people to follow, who are not known contacts in my phone already will become easy.
6. Of course, brands want to market via snapchat too, so will be given their own “brand” accounts that people can subscribe to.
7. There will be a lot of noise, and many people will ignore a large percentage of their snapchat inbox (same as many people ignore the majority of their primary feed activity). As a result, Snapchat will add sponsored snaps into the equation that stay at the top of your inbox until you look at them.
8. Hidden “deals” will be inserted into Snaps to entice people to pay attention to those sponsored snaps.
and….voila…a visual iteration of Twitter.
Will Snapchat truly knock off Twitter? Or crumble before it gets to true scale? Only time will tell.