Snapchat for Work? Are You Kidding?
News surfaced recently that Snapchat, the disappearing message service, had raised $1.8 billion in a Series F round funding round that put its value at about $20 billion, indeed a staggering figure given that the company had merely $59 million in revenue last year. The latest valuation makes Snapchat worth more than twice that of Twitter.
Clearly investors believe that they are betting on the next big thing online. Snapchat has proved wildly popular, growing at a phenomenal rate of 69% among the coveted Millennials (age 25 to 34), a generation that according to a recent PwC report will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020.
This massive amount of attention from a potentially trend-setting population has even led a few to make a case for Snapchat at work, prophesying how it will redefine workplace communication as its massive fan base of Millennials enter the workplace.
But to use Snapchat at workplace will turn out to be an ideal more cool than substantiated. It’s a proposition of misplaced confidence that neglects three workplace conflicts inherent in the social platform.
1. Snapchat creates an urgency unfit for complexe tasks.
Snapchat message’s time limitation — a lifespan of 24 hours — requires timely replies on the platform. It’s this advantage of immediacy that attracts millennials.
However, not everything could be solved by instant response at a workplace. Most likely, time is needed to process the tasks at hand before responding to them, especially those that require human creativity and additional attention.
For instance, the selection of a supplier entails a prolonged process of analysis and comparison among the bidders. Jumping to a conclusion off the top of head is simply not an option.
Besides, Snapchat’s urgency culture of “respond now” could even become an office distraction and dent workplace productivity.
2. Snapchat’s disregard for traceable record means office chaos.
As both the beauty and pitfall of Snapchat, all content on the temporary social media is deleted within 24 hours, if not instantly. That works fine when the deleted messages have no significance beyond their fleeting transience.
But office communication belongs to another category. Efficient teamwork needs a traceable record to avoid confusion and hold accountability. Snapchat offers no such assurance, and in the resulted information limbo, colleagues will have nothing to anchor their collaboration. Teamwork of such a mode could only end up in chaos if not outright disaster.
And what if there involves a third-party contractor? A deal settled upon Snapchat, without any notarized certificates to back it up, has little validity. At stake here are not just business interests but also legal liabilities. Snapchat simply can’t live up to such a formalism.
3. Millennials’ preference gets fluid as they advance in age and rank
Surely the Millennials are going to redefine the future. What’s less sure, however, is Snapchat’s ability to maintain its popularity among such a demographic group as they advance in age and rank.
Snapchat is not the only choice that satisfies millennials’ need for speedy and efficient connections on private levels. There are many instant messaging competitors.
And over time as the millennials advance into more sophisticated demographics, it could would result in a natural yearning for more professional communication tool. Snapchat’s performance in this regard can be quite underwhelming.
The ultimate conflict rises from the millennials’ dual needs for private connections and workplace communication, to have them both integrated within one easily accessible platform, while at the same time mutually independent enough to maintain the integrity of career professionalism.
For those excited harbingers championing for Snapchat at workplace, perhaps it will be more interesting to contemplate what the millennials would be like in another twenty years and what they need to get there. Snapchat alone can’t be the answer. A more inclusive tool with integrated mail and IM might be a better solution.