Why Snapchat Right Now Reminds Me Of Twitter Back in 2010


For those who have stuck around my blog over the last couple of years (First, thank you!), you may have seen me rant about Snapchat before. I joined the app very early on, spent a little time on the app and then publicly shared that I was deleting the app in a blog post. Here’s the proof.

I have come full circle in the last couple of months. While I wouldn’t say it’s completely mainstream yet (Others may disagree with me on this point like this post), Snapchat has matured a lot. It’s user base is also getting older. There’s a lot more people in their late 20s (like me) and 30s jumping on and using this app on a regular basis.

I’ve spent a lot more time on the app in the last couple of months. (Snapchat id- jessicamalnik) Snapchat feels different today than even two months ago. The energy and atmosphere on Snapchat is very reminiscent of Twitter circa 2009-2010. Old School Twitter as I lovingly will call it in this post was all about the conversations back then. If you mentioned someone on Twitter, there was a good chance you would get a response within an hour if not within mere minutes. There was much less of the set it and forget it, “look at me” broadcast mentality that has crept in since then.

In addition, this is when Twitter chats first started. What convinced me personally that Twitter wasn’t the stupidest, time-wasting site ever was when I participated in my first Twitter chat back in 2009. That was #journchat. That’s when Twitter clicked for me. I saw the potential on that site. Thank you, Sarah Evans! From there, I became the biggest advocate of Twitter chats. I’m not sure if I should be proud of this or even admit it, but at one point in early 2010 I can remember participating in five Twitter chats in one day including three back to back hour long chats. I had no real idea what I was doing back then. I’m sure many people probably thought I was nuts when I would tweet 100+ times per day. In hindsight, that year on Twitter has played the biggest impact on my career. Many of my professional relationships (and even a bunch of personal ones) stemmed from people who I met on Twitter chats in 2009 and 2010. (Shout-out to any fellow #journchat, #pr20chat, #u30pro and #cmgrchat peeps in particular.)

Why am I going on and on about Twitter chats? It was because it was all about collaboration, knowledge-sharing and conversations. The same three things can be seen in abundance on Snapchat right now.

Snapchat has no real built-in discovery tools. It doesn’t automatically search and let you follow all your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. That makes it really hard to find new people to add as well as to build a following.

In fact, the only way to build a following on Snapchat is to collaborate with others on Snapchat or to leverage your existing network on other social media sites. The second option works amazingly well if you are Gary Vaynerchuk and have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, Twitter, your email list, etc. However, if you only have hundreds or maybe a few thousand followers on other sites, the strategy doesn’t work nearly as well.

So, what do the savviest people do? They collaborate with their Snapchat friends. They share a screenshot or even just a photo with simple text of people you should follow on Snapchat. Sometimes just one a day and other times a dozen or so recs at once within their Snapchat stories. It’s incredibly effective.

An even more creative thing that many are doing are Snapchat takeovers. This is when two people take over each others’ Snapchat accounts for one day. So, you create ongoing snaps for your story on your friends’ account for the day. Think of it like guest blogging but on Snapchat.

For example, a couple of days ago, Brian Fanzo (Snapchat id- isocialfanz)  and Ben Phillips (snapchat id- figoamericano) announced they were going to do a Snapchat takeover in the very near future. Both of these guys have produced some creative epic Snapchat stories in the past, so I can’t wait to see what happens when they swap accounts for a day. Go ahead and give both of them a follow.

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Another thing that I’ve noticed on Snapchat is that people want to pay it forward and share their tips and advice. Whether that’s sharing how to find a cool, new hidden feature in the app or sharing tips about something they are crazy passionate about. I can’t think of a day where I haven’t watched at least a handful of stories with people sharing tips and tricks.

One particular Snapchatter who does this really well is Chris McManamy. He’s an IT guy. I am no IT expert, but he has found a way to share IT tips and tricks in an informative and compelling way through a series of 10 second snaps. It’s a brilliant strategy.

All the conversations 
Video is an inherently more personal medium than text. It takes more effort and courage to hit record and share a 10 second video than it does to post a status update on Facebook or send a tweet. The fact that everything on Snapchat (be it photos and videos) happens in 10 second increments lends itself well to showcasing all the in-between moments. Whereas Facebook and Instagram in particular serve as a “highlight reel,” Snapchat is really effective for sharing quick ideas, thoughts and “hallway talk.” People actually watch and respond. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have noticed I get faster responses on Snapchat than I do from even Twitter.

I think Snapchat has crossed a threshold. The energy on that site is refreshing and electric. The combination of it being collaborative, conversational and full of people willing to give and share more than they receive makes it a fun, vibrant community. If you are not on there yet, you should check it out. Whether you have been on there a couple of years or brand new, feel free to add me. (Snapchat: jessicamalnik.)

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Jessica Malnik

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