Imagine if you were one of those students in attendance back in April 2011 when Evan Spiegel presented his idea for his final project: a mobile app where photos could be shared, but only for a matter of seconds before permanently disappearing. At the time, his classmates at Stanford thought this wasn’t exactly a great idea. Who could have guessed that they had ridiculed what would become Snapchat?
Over the last several years, Snapchat has become one of the most buzzed and controversial social media apps available. Teenagers can’t get enough of it. Investors love it. Parents fear it. Hackers are having fun with it. In short, it hasn’t exactly been the smoothest of journeys for Snapchat.
For example, Snapchat began 2014 with 4.6 million of its users having their usernames and partial phone numbers made available for download by hackers. More recently, another hacker sent images of fruit smoothies, along with the address of a spam website, to users. Not exactly the kind of PR Snapchat wants to go along with lawsuits and concerns about teenagers sharing explicit images.
Of course, it hasn’t been all controversy for Snapchat. It captured the ‘Best Mobile App’ at the 2013 Crunchies. The NCAA announced that it will permit coaches to use Snapchat as a recruiting tool. The Association of Surfing Professionals has used the app to provide followers with real-time updates on waves and upcoming competitions. And, marketers have found it incredibly appealing as well. Since it’s estimated that teenagers spend between $200 billion – $300 billion in the U.S. alone, and are the largest demographic on Snapchat, brands are embracing the photo and video-sharing service as a part of their social media strategy.
Even with its unsavory reputation and the growing amount of competitors (Wickr, Facebook Poke, Clipchat, Instagram Direct, Squawk), the popularity of Snapchat shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon. With the increasing popularity of photo-sharing, privacy concerns and the willingness to evolve to accommodate the demands of users, Snapchat definitely has a bright future.
If you’re not up to date on your Snapchat trivia, now is the time:
- Snapchat’s co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy first worked together while attending Stanford University on a website for students called Future Freshman in 2010. Spiegel told the Palisadian Post in August 2013: “We would experiment and fail. We must have attempted nearly 34 projects”.
- Originally Snapchat was called Picaboo, and it was first launched in July 2011 in Spiegel’s father’s living room on the Apple App Store.
- Picaboo was renamed Snapchat when the app was rebranded and added to the Google Play in 2012 for Android users.
- Inspiration for the disappearing messages came to Spiegel and Murphy after a friend regretted sending a photo to someone else.
- That friend is supposedly Frank Reginald Brown. Brown approached his friends Spiegel and Murphy with a “million dollar idea”. The three launched Picaboo, but Brown claims that Spiegel and Murphy ousted him. Since then, Brown has sued his two former friends, who in turn, have filed a restraining order.
- It’s been reported that Snapchat’s more than 100 million users share over 400 million snaps daily. That surpasses the photo-sharing activity on both Facebook and Instagram.
- According to the Institutional Venture Partners, Snapchat is valued at $800 million thanks to impressive funding drives.
- Venture capitalist firm Lightspeed Venture Partners provided $485k of seed funding in May 2012 after one of the partner’s found that the three most popular apps in his daughter’s high-school class were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. Since then, Snapchat has raised $123 million in funding.
- After their secret first meeting with Mark Zuckerberg in 2013, where Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s Poke, Spiegel and Murphy gave their six employees copies of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War .
- Zuckerberg tried to acquire Snapchat for $1 billion in October 2013. Spiegel and Murphy rejected that offer. Zuckerberg returned a month later with a $3 billion offer, which was again rebuffed.
- Snapchat’s mascot is called “Ghostface Chillah”, a name Brown derived from Ghostface Killah of the group Wu-Tang Clan.
- Around 26 percent of 18-29-year-old smartphone users report using Snapchat. Only 5 percent are among 30-49-year-olds, 3 percent of 50-64 year-olds and 2 percent of 65 and older.
- The number of photos shared has skyrocketed from 20 million in October 2012 to 60 million in February 2013, 150 million in April 2013, 200 million in June 2013 to 350 million in September 2013.
- Percent of US iPhone users with Snapchat: 20.8%
- In the United States, the Snapchat app is 10th on the Apple App Store.
- It’s estimated that Snapchat has between 26 to 30 million users in the U.S.
- In the United Kingdom, 25 percent of smartphone owners have reported using Snapchat.
- It’s been found that 50 percent of all smartphone users in Norway use Snapchat.
- Research has found that 70 percent of Snapchat users are women.
- In October 2013, Snapchat Stories was unveiled. This ‘timeline’ feature allows users to link shared content, which can be viewed an unlimited amount of times, throughout a 24-hour period.
- While brands like Taco Bell, Karmaloop and 16 Handles have been using Snapchat since 2013, the launch of Stories has seen an increase in brands ranging from HBO’s Girls, the New Orleans Saints, and Acura. Most recently, Hollyoaks became the first soap opera to use Stories as a way of posting teasers and exclusive content every weekday at 4 P.M.
- One major concern with Snapchat is ‘sexting’ and how Snapchat’s users, mainly those who are below the age of eighteen, use the app. According to a study conducted from market research firm Survata in February 2013, it was found that mobile phone users are more likely to use MMS for ”sexting’, rather than Snapchat.
- Studies have shown that ‘sexting’ is more than twice as common among men than women on Snapchat. Furthermore, it was found that 23 to 29 year olds actually sext more than 18 to 22 year olds.
- If teenagers aren’t being naughty on Snapchat, why are there so many users on Snapchat? Popular responses are: “Send funny pictures to my friends,” “Make silly faces for my friends,” and “Send jokes to my friends.” Another popular reason was because their parents aren’t on Snapchat.
- In June 2013, Snapchat Kidz was released. This included an “interface for taking snaps, captioning, drawing, and saving them locally on the device, but does not support sending or receiving snaps or adding friends,” and was designed for children under the age of 13.
Do you use Snapchat? If so, why did you join and have there been any benefits? Or, is it just a tool for teenagers to waste of time?