figuring out SNAPCHAT 👻

I may be completely wrong about it, but I’ll put in the work anyway.

Snapchat intrigues me.

Snapchat is different. Sure, now that everyone and their grandmother is doing ‘stories’ in one form or another, less different — but that, I think, is a skin-deep understanding.

I may be completely wrong about this.

All I know for sure is that of all the social platforms, Snapchat is the most interesting. I love Twitter. I loathe Facebook, and unfortunately that started to seep into Instagram as well. (In all fairness, I have no idea whether or not Instagram’s latest changes were due to Facebook’s influence or not. At the very least, in the case of changing to an algorithm from a chronological feed I suspect was.)

And Snapchat is hard. It’s a closed ecosystem, meaning that despite my instinct to let the audience find you on their chosen platform, there’s considerable hustle to be done everywhere else to get people onto Snapchat.

And, again, there’s the copycat syndrome. Ever since Instagram flat-out copied Snapchat’s defining feature, everybody’s doing ‘stories’. The conventional wisdom goes something like this: “I can do what Snapchat does on [insert platform] and more — why would I put in the extra work that Snapchat requires?

I can’t find fault in that logic. Or, rather, I can find fault in that logic but I’m not going to. Each to their own, for one thing. And, secondly but more importantly, whatever someone else does shouldn’t affect what I’m doing.

I’m interested in Snapchat, and that’s enough.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. But at the end of the day, all I need is the fact that I enjoy it.

Here are a few things I’m interested in, when it comes to Snapchat. (In no particular order.)

  1. Engagement: where all other social platforms became soapboxes — even though you can and should use them differently — Snapchat is still based around personal relationships and engagement. 

    I’m not talking about how people consume content on Snapchat (although the level of attention is still so much higher than on any other platform that it may as well be a different category) but how the lack of discovery and algorithms keep the entire platform out of the loop Instagram and Twitter finds itself.
  2. Experimentation: I’m fascinated by the possibilities Snapchat storytelling offers. One can argue that the same is true for any other ‘stories’ clones, but where those are controlled to a varying degree, Snapchat simply feels like an environment where you can fail fast and learn.

    Add AR to the mix, something that no other platform really offers — they’re starting to, but they’re nowhere near Snapchat — and the fact that nothing’s off limits, it makes for a creative space that’s interesting to me.
  3. Community: this goes back to engagement in many respects, but it’s worth discussing separately. Again, because of the complete lack of discovery tools, users have to actively seek out and select content they want to see. This creates a community in a sense no other platform can match. (With the possible exception of Facebook groups, but like I said I loathe Facebook.)

    Creating a community on Snapchat means a lot of hard work, but when it does happen I suspect it’s of a very different quality than anywhere else.
  4. The ratio of value exchange: because Snapchat is a closed ecosystem, there’re only a few ways where your content can go “viral”. This means that we can stop worrying about that, and concentrate on the only thing that should matter: content that serves the audience.

    People consume your content because they chose to. And when you can only serve a single — and engaged — audience, you can forget about trying to “make it” outside that circle.
  5. No automation: creating good content for Snapchat requires actual creative work. You can’t automate it, can’t distribute the same shit from other platforms.

    Also, there are no bots or spam. (Largely.) It’s just not worth it for those to invest in Snapchat. Which keeps the platform clean and valuable.
  6. FUN: yes, Snapchat is fun. It’s quirky, it’s whimsical, which may or may not fit your style, but it fits mine. That’s it.

Speaking from a “branding” perspective, there’s an opportunity in Snapchat right now. As far as the mainstream thinking is concerned, everybody abandoned ship on the depth of Snapchat in favor of the width of Instagram (mostly). That means that by putting in the work now will pay off big when Snapchat comes back.

That of course requires a faith that they will. And I do believe that. Snapchat may have risen too high too fast, and made some questionable choices — but if there’s one thing that’s clear from their history is their perseverance. And the fact that everybody still follows Snapchat speaks volumes about their ability for invention — and strengthens their position as leaders, even though their stock price may say different.

I think even today — several years after Snapchat’s novelty has wore off, its core demographic grown up, and its features copied left and right — Snapchat stands alone. They represent a new way of communicating that cannot be automated, hacked, or faked. Snapchat’s vocabulary doesn’t allow soapbox-behavior. I love that.

Again, I may be betting on the wrong horse here. And if I am, I’ll have to migrate to Instagram or wherever later, when there’ll be even more competition.

Does it worth it?

Absolutely. The freedom of Snapchat, the lessons learned there, and the community I can build — through extremely hard work, especially compared to the relative ease of Instagram or Twitter — will make it worth my while even if Snapchat fails.

I hope it won’t, though. Because if it does, it’ll set back innovation a lot, as Snapchat won’t be remembered as the pioneer they are but the failure the old communication paradigm deemed them to be. Wall Street doesn’t determine value. Users do.

At least I hope that’s the case.

Are you using Snapchat? Add me, or put your snapcode/username in the comments, I’d love to connect!

Thank you for reading!

Write, document, repeat. This is my experiment, mixing different platforms and media, to tell many different stories within the singular narrative of the life of a working writer. The good, bad, and ugly; the mundane and spectacular.

It’s an experiment in documenting my life as creating the life of others: characters, worlds, science and fantasy. It comes from the practice of private journaling, that has been such a blast and useful practice. To the extent that I thought: why not make these stories public?

Over time you’ll, shall you follow along, see me grow and get better. You’ll gain a peek into telling stories, each distinctively different yet sharing the same universe. That’s just how it goes, and it’s a fascinating endeavor, if I say so myself, to work within the confines of a single literary (and, in time, perhaps otherwise) universe, where the most basic law is the butterfly effect.

I cannot emphasize how much it means to me having You here. Please, get in touch with me, and let me know what you think.

To facilitate that, I’m putting my Snapcode right next to this, because Snapchat is something that currently fascinates me more than any other platform. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Use whatever medium feels right to you.

Again, thank you! I really appreciate you being here.