The Psychology of Snapchat

Fact

22924

MAU – 70 million

Frequency – 400 million snaps a day

Gender – 70% female

Geographic – Mostly US

Revenue – $0

Business Model – None

*Disclaimer* I love Snapchat, despite having only 5 or 10 friends using it. I get to stalk em whenever they update their profiles, and they get to share their most [intimate – icwhatudidthere] thoughts and e-motions. Kinda like Facebook – but cooler – as people would think.

 

Motivation for new users

Observational Findings – As someone in his mid-twenties, not Snapchat’s core demo,  I started using it cuz I’m a marketer. A damn good one, to say the least. And as all good marketers, I instantly rubbished it. I.e. until I heard about the $3B valuation. That’s when I started using it religiously, and chatted back n forth with a French buddy of mine who’s also a marketer. I instantly found more and more of my other mid-twenty friends joining- in and using Snapchat to tell stories of their most perfect-est starbux-acinnos, and OMGing over IMGs of their P.ETs.

The initial curiosity or draw was that it was a novelty that everyone was talking about. They wondered what they would do with $3B dollars and post their trip to fantasy-land, they thought about installing the app once – just to see what it was all about.

For tween-agers, its a whole ‘nother story. Their eco-system has snapchat ingrained in it. Their friends from high-school are bulk sending secrets to one another, and their parents are using it to ask em what they’d like for dinner. It’s new, it’s fresh, – then there’s always the element of the surprise dick pic. The issue that got a lot of bad press (good press?) last year.

Instant draw – Curiosity fuelled by mass – media, with a hint of F.O.M.O. and connection.

Research – I love the fact that mass-marketing influences downloads, purchases, and buy-ins to a large extent. The juicier the story, the more WoM, the greater the impact on your conversions. Case in point, two major media stories –

1. Snap chat Dic* Picks – This was brilliant. Tweens everywhere – attracted by the mere premise of their friends sharing inappropriate images with one another.  “If there’s an outlet to defy authority, kids will gravitate towards it.” I theorize, that Omegle and Chatroullete as well – had a similar underlying usage behaviour behind it.

2. Manic valuation – Not a lot of buzz was going around companies that were valued at that price point, and the buzz spread worldwide. Media outlets across the globe were sharing the news about the application that made no money and only targeted kids. Buzz translated into downloads.

 

Motivation for initial usage

Research – There are a few components to this madness, and they are as follows –

1. Scarcity – You could listen to Cialdini, Ariely, or even Chris Nodder (his lynda .com course here) and they’d tell you the importance of scarcity in driving behaviour. The scarcity factor associated with the the short life-span of these snap images sparks a host of neural pathways in the brain. You tend to value these images a lot more on Snapchat (10seconds) than Facebook (forever). These images are now as valuable as a gourmet meal, made more valuable by applying filters, tags, and cute n cudely doodles.

I love this snippet about Cialidini’s remarks on Scarcity –

“Basically what the researchers said was, ‘If you insulate your home fully, you’ll save 50 cents every day.’ That was for half of the homeowners.” Cialdini says. “With the other half, homeowners were told, ‘If you fail to insulate your home fully, you’ll lose 50 cents every day. In the end, 150 percent more people insulated under loss language than gain language. It was the same 50 cents, but people are more mobilized into action by the idea of losing something.”

Resources –

1. http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/05/how-the-power-of-free-and-scarcity-influence-decision-making.php

2.http://knowwpcarey.com/article.cfm?aid=684  (they should have changed their permalinks)

3. This is kinda cool. A list of persuasion techniques/principles – http://changingminds.org/principles/principles.htm

It kinda makes me think about Gold, and how much we value this scarce commodity. Meanwhile, we can’t cook it or drink it or even make a house out of it. It’s *intrinsic value* is supposed to make it valuable. Sounds like another DeBeer’s diamond wedding rings marketing ploy to me. [Moving on]

2. Connectivity/Intimate Bonding – I get a glimpse into the lives of my friends in a more appealing format than text. An IMG with you playing with your kitty cat, is a better response to “What’s Up” than “Not Much”. Of course, the rules of the game don’t change here. The more your friend offers to you in terms of entertainment, humour, excitement, beauty, etc. – the more you would reciprocate and the longer you spend time on social media apps.

You can quote me on this.. “Users don’t spend time on Facebook because Facebook is boring, its because their friends are boring. ” Facebook knows this and is desperately trying to get more info about you, to deliver content that is relevant to you, makes you smile, or is important to your demographic in general.

3. Defying Social Norms – I can appreciate your activity for a longer duration of time than is socially permissible in a face-to-face interaction. Our brains can process images within microseconds of seeing it, but the joy in taking your time to truly get a dopamine dump for 10 seconds is exciting enough for anyone to get addicted to.

4. Interaction Design – Snapchat has some of the best interaction design elements involved in it. Swipe right to chat, slide to switch cameras, push down to refresh, and press-n-hold to view. These elements have made it simpler to use the app v/s having buttons or complex menus to browse through. Its quick and its young.

Resources –

i. Some awesome interaction design designs – https://www.behance.net/search?field=51

ii. Basic 101 on interaction design – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlzuJqZ797U

 

What does all this mean for brands?

1. Sharing pictures of your stuff, instead of text – Fans will inevitably be sharing images of a multitude of products, events, memories, and experiences.

2. Invite Snap Celebs – Get em to your new store opening, give em free tickets, free promos, you know the drill. These guys are the new broadcasters of 2014. You gotta tap em, when they’re young.

3. Youth – You’re gonna gettem young. You don’t want a Vice to take over the publishing game and dethrone incumbents by tapping the youth

4. Low Risk – If you fail, you fail. No expectations, no impact on KRA – you’re free to experiment around without too much of a disaster in your hands

 

 Examples of Brands using Snapchat –

i. Brands doing an OK job at snapchat – http://mashable.com/2013/12/05/snapchat-brands/#gallery/brands-rocking-snapchat/52a0500b97b2f829ce0009d1

ii. More brands doing an OK job – http://socialmediatoday.com/elizabethkent/2251046/using-snapchat-guide-brands

iii. Slightly better than OK – http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/36542.asp#singleview

iv. This guys is a beast on snapchat – http://digiday.com/brands/art-good-snapchat/

Brands on Snapchat –

  • TacoBell
  • Love16Handles
  • karmaloop.com
  • Grubhub
  • Wetseal
  • Acura_Insider
  • Businessweek
  • SenatorRandPaul
  • Sports Teams:
    • Saints (New Orleans Saints)
    • Eagles (Philadelphia Eagles)
    • New York Jets
    • Washington Wizards
    • Dallas Mavericks
    • Los Angeles Galaxy
    • Washington Capitals

 

You did it! You read through the entire article. No you didn’t. You skimmed. Trust me, you’re gonna wanna really read this article. Or not.

 

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