So I tried Snapchat.
It was a bit like that time I tried snails in a fancy French restaurant – a fiddly, awkward and wholly unpleasant experience that left me wondering how on earth so many people could be raving about it.
Now, I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a social media addict. I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. I have my grumbles with each platform (Twitter has become an echo chamber of abuse and Facebook Messenger’s app is becoming incredibly messy) but I’ve never experienced a social platform so hostile to actually being operated by the user.
It’s impossible to navigate. Nothing is intuitive. Your discoverability opportunities on the platform are next to nil. The things it actually does are often completely naff. And — this is the big one — most of the features I might actually want to use I can now on other platforms (like Instagram and Facebook) which are easier to use and where I have established audiences.
For me, as a consumer, I can’t see the point in Snapchat. For businesses I can see even less point.
Why? Firstly, it’s going to be hard for most brands to get noticed there. Secondly, Snapchat’s users really aren’t there to engage with brands. As a recent article called “Why I’m Leaving Snapchat and So Are All Your Friends” put it, “when you added a friend on Snap, it felt like you were performing an intimate ritual— it’s almost like letting someone into your underwear drawer — and feels like a big deal”. People don’t want that relationship with brands. Well, maybe underwear brands.
The thrust of that article, by the way, was that many users are leaving Snapchat because platforms like Instagram Stories essentially do the same thing and are easier to use. And I guess that’s where I, as a user, have landed. And so have many others.
I’m also a grown man: I’m not interested in putting a cute (read: creepy) puppy filter on my face. I’m not interested in sending anyone videos or images that need to self-destruct after 15 seconds. I definitely don’t have the time or inclination to view two dozen dissolving images of my mate’s dinner or my cousin’s baby. And I certainly can’t be bothered learning how to navigate a messy platform that does what it does less well than its competitors.
There’s a lot of heat at the moment about the IPO of Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, and how much the app is worth, but I frankly can’t see it. That said, I freely admit I could be wrong — and every business should look into all social media platforms and see which ones work with their strategy.
If Snapchat does fit with your strategy, then my gut instinct is that Instagram Stories would probably work even better, especially if you have an established audience. If Snapchat doesn’t fit with your strategy, if you don’t need it to survive and grow, then now is certainly not the time to bother.
(Same goes for snails, by the way.)
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