👻 The Rise of Snapchat

👻 The Rise of Snapchat

Picture this: 13 year old Ricky nervously approaches Lola during recess. He’s been imagining this moment for weeks but has always chickened out.

With a sheepish grin, he finally musters the courage to ask, “Can I have your Snapchat?”

What happened to phone numbers? Is texting outdated now?

The answer might surprise you. 

Today, teenagers text on Snapchat more than they do on iMessage. In fact, many parents have downloaded Snapchat just to communicate with their kids. 

So, when did Snapchat become so popular? Why do teenagers prefer Snapchat over iMessage and other social media platforms?

Here’s what we got for ya:

  • 📈 From 0 to 400M Users

  • 🥷 Snapchat vs Zuckerburg

  • 🤳 How to Make an Addict 

Read time: 4 min 45 sec

📈 From 0 to 400M Users

The idea for Snapchat started as an attempt by two Stanford frat boys, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel, to get more nude pictures. 

They felt like they were being deprived. Girls didn’t want their photos to be shared with everyone, so they were hesitant to send them at all.

So what did the two frat boys do? What anyone in a desperate situation would… they worked hard to find a solution.

It was Reggie who had the stroke of genius: what if they created an app where the photos would disappear after a few seconds?

They recruited their friend Bobby Murphy to program the app.

In September 2011, they launched Snapchat. But at first, nobody wanted to use the app.

Evan would go to shopping malls to hand out flyers and send emails to bloggers. Nothing worked.

The truth is, there wasn’t that big of a market to send nudes.

Then Evan’s little cousin started using Snapchat in his High School to talk with his friends, and the app blew up. Daily active users skyrocketed from 2,000 in December to 20,000 in January. Then, it kept growing…

Why did it become so popular?

Snapchat has a more intimate feel. You can be goofy and authentic without fear of embarrassing yourself. You don’t have to worry about how many likes you get. And your parents aren’t going to join…

Teenagers started to use Snapchat instead of iMessages. It was a snowball effect. If all of your friends have snapchat, you have to download it to communicate with them. And then your friends have to download it to communicate with you. 

But not everyone was happy with Snapchat’s sudden success… 

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🥷 Snapchat vs Zuckerburg

When Snapchat was just a year old, Mark Zuckerberg requested a meeting with co-founder Evan Spiegel. 

Zuckerberg made an offer to buy Snapchat, but the undertone was threatening: join us or we will crush you.

Spiegel bravely declined. 

Soon, Zuckerberg launched his first attack: an app called Poke. 

Poke, an exact replica of Snapchat backed up by the tech giant Facebook, quickly rose up the app store rankings within days. However, the hype was short-lived.

Zuckerberg’s attempt to squash Snapchat actually helped it grow. Now investors thought Snapchat was worth their time. 

Within just a year, Snapchat went from a small unknown app to over 100M daily active users.

In 2013, Mark Zuckerberg made one last attempt to acquire Snapchat, this time offering $3B. He was refused a second time.

Snapchat spent their new investors money on improving their app. One new feature that came out of this is the Snapchat Story. 

With stories, users can share photos or videos to vlog their day and share more personal moments with all of their friends. 

Zuckerberg saw the success of stories, and once again copied Snapchat. This time, he added stories to Instagram. 

Two years later, Kylie Jenner, once dubbed the Queen of Snapchat, called for its execution. 

Snapchat’s stock lost $1.3B in value. 

But to Zuckerberg’s dismay, Snapchat is still not dead. 

In fact, 60% of teenagers in the USA use Snapchat. This is slightly more than Instagram.

Why? Because Snapchat still offers value to its users. And, it’s addicting…

More on this:

🤳 How to Make an Addict

Snapchat users open the app 30 times a day on average. That’s obsessive…

How did Snapchat make its app addicting? It all lies in these three things:

#1- Social Validation: Snapchat’s default settings have push notifications turned on, so you instantly know when someone snapped you. Getting lots of notifications makes users feel popular and validated. 

#2- Competition: Snapchat encourages competition a few different ways, but the most popular is with streaks. A streak is the number of days two people consistently snap each other. This competition is more of a team sport. The longer a streak gets, the more valuable it becomes. As of February 2024, the longest streak is 3046 days. To those two streak holders, maintaining that streak is invaluable. 

The streak is the number next to 🔥

Another way Snapchat fosters competition is with the Snapchat Score. Under everyone’s profile, there is a number that shows how many total snaps they have sent and received. Having a higher number indicates more popularity.

#3- FOMO: Using the fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the most effective strategies. Snapchat users have to check the stories feature every day or they will never know what happened. Why? Because stories disappear after 24 hours, maintaining Snapchat’s non-permanent social media idea. 

Snapchat is programmed so that, if someone stops using Snapchat for even a day, they would lose their streaks and miss out on their friends’ stories. To stay relevant, you have to stay on the app.

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