In November of last year, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion dollar buyout offer from Facebook. Astonished social media wonks cried foul. How could a company that has no revenue be worth $3 billion dollars?
There is a general theory in digital media that money follows eyeballs. So, who are the people that are driving this enormous valuation?
Snapchat is one of the worlds leading social networking services. 46% of 12 − 24 year olds use the app to communicate. 77% of college students use Snapchat to send pictures, text and video.
Wait, you haven’t heard about Snapchat? No one can blame you. The company is only three years old. From simple beginnings as a Stanford class project, the mobile app has grown from handling 25 images per second in May 2012 to 700 million per day in May of this year.
Snapchat has grown into a mainstream communication tool. Since most of these images are coming from Millenials, agencies, businesses and higher education institutions have flocked to it.
Why should you care about Snapchat?
The rapid adoption of Snapchat by teens represents a fundamental shift in the way people use the Internet. Millenials are the first generation of mobile users. They don’t surf the open web on desktop computers. They don’t use email. They don’t talk on the phone. They use private apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp to communicate with their own controllable, private network of friends.
According to Business Insider, Snapchat is attempting to corner the handset market for the millenial generation. If Snapchat becomes the “start app” for millions of teens, higher ed professionals need to learn how to market accordingly.
Believe it or not, the ephemeral nature of Snapchat is also a boon to marketers and institutions alike. Unlike Facebook or even Twitter, users must stay actively engaged with their phone to communicate. If a student receives a snap from their school of choice, it disappears in 10 seconds, leaving the student waiting for the next post.
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a photo messaging mobile application that allows users to send photo, video, and text messages to a private network of friends. Photos, dubbed “snaps”, have a limited lifespan. Users can set a timer from 1 to 10 seconds. When the timer runs down, the image is destroyed. Snapchat users are in control of who sees their snaps. Likewise, they can control which snaps and friends they want to see.
In a way, Snapchat is a perfect storm of generational disconnect. Teens crave privacy. Parents don’t “get” technology. Placing a private network in the hands of sixteen year-olds across the world was bound to create a tsunami of data that only Millenials would understand.
Getting to Know Snapchat
The best way to learn about the app is to download it for yourself. It runs on Android and iOS.
Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll get a practical lesson in Metcalfe’s Law. Snapchat isn’t very useful if you aren’t connected to any friends. Find a student in your office, ask them to friend you. Play with the app. Send and receive snaps. Snapchat is intuitive, and you will get the hang of it quickly.
Now that you have an introduction to the top communication tool for 12-24 year-olds, it’s time to plan a Snapchat campaign.
This wraps up the first post in a series about teens, higher education, and Snapchat. Snapchat has risen from a college project to a major social networking phenomenon. Teens, in particular, are the primary users of the tool because they can communicate within their own open, secret garden, protected by a wall of mobile technology. In the next installment, we’ll look at some examples and lay out a plan for building your own higher education Snapchat campaign.