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Snapchat: is that art or can it go away?

Snapchat is on everyone's lips. The messenger has arrived in everyday life in the USA - it has overcome the “innovation chasm”. Colleague Thomas Keup has been a journalist in radio, TV and online for 24 years, a PR specialist for software, startups and mobile apps and on the go in social media - from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. A critical look behind the scenes of a hype.

Berlin, Wednesday, February 10th, on the 15th floor of the Kollhoff building on Potsdamer Platz: The operator of a small startup PR agency has the honor of presenting its PR and media trends in front of over 200 lawyers, investors and multipliers . In addition to content marketing and virtual reality, the former “ringtone seller” presents Snapchat as the “hot shit” - including a likeness in the ghost logo of the video network.

My first thought after a good small talk with the program director of a Berlin corporate accelerator is: “What is this about? Why is the esteemed colleague presenting a youth network to a business audience? " In an interview with DS colleague Alexander Hüsing, my suspicions are confirmed. The family man and longtime journalist asks: “What do I need this for?” I am not alone in the crucial question of sense or nonsense.

The next “pink pig” is coming through the village!

There is hardly a medium that is not concerned with the social network these days. Whether Deutsche Welle TV, F.A.Z., Spiegel or Die Welt: The editorial computers glow when it comes to the “next hot shit” in the social media universe. No comparison of user numbers and activities is too daring to play Facebook against Snapchat. The next “pink pig” is driven through the village. Time to illuminate the topic professionally, objectively and critically.

In the best chronicler's duty, the numbers first: the network has 100 million users every day, 6 out of 10 young people are already there, 51% of all US users are between 18 and 24 years of age, 77% in total over 18. Worldwide, around 200 million If you have an account, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing apps after Facebook and Line. Among the online users in Germany, the 4.6 million or 6% Snapchat fans tend to be outsiders.

Schnapchat: Old wine in new bottles?

Snapchatters produce 7 billion video snippets every day, plus around 9,000 photos per second. The private “Snaps” are deleted after a maximum of 10 seconds, “Stories” as film strips in “Items” after 24 hours. In the first 12 months the messenger already gained 10 million users. CNN, MTV, & Co. can cost their app channels up to $ 100,000 - per day. This year, the 25-year-old founder Evan Spiegel wants to bring in US $ 200 million - 4x as much as last year, although only 1% of US companies are involved. The goodwill is estimated at $ 16 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Snapchat is old hat. Michael Kroker shows on his blog that the network was developed 5 years ago in a product design course at Stanford University. Like other networks, Snapchat consolidates services that were previously offered individually. Consolidation and diversification are a must. But what makes Snapchat special? Why are kids in the US, UK and Ireland crazy about the service? And for whom does it make sense to swipe and tap through the unfamiliar app?

Videos as the next level of development.

As a journalist, I ask a key question: “Why should I (as a“ digital resident ”) use Snapchat - apart from gaming, pastime or fun? Or to ask in new German: “Good? For what? " If Instagram is the slide show, WhatsApp is the text chat, Facebook is networked with Friends & Family and Twitter is the news channel - then what is Snapchat for? To find the solution, I go back to Barcelona in 2012:

In a series of meetings with the founder and telcos professional Jochen Doppelhammer, we discussed the next stage of development. Our mobile startup Yuilop - today UppTalk - combines free telephony via WiFi, SMS and chat - a model that has been successful in the USA. We already knew 4 years ago that users talk less and less, write less and less and use more and more photos and videos. Instagram as a slide show, Pinterest as a photo album, YouTube as a video channel and Periscope as a real-time channel are the logical next steps.

Mobile coffee chat - protected and networked.

When I click through the Snapchat playbook from US tech pro Todd Brison, I notice a few terms: Brison focuses on the media layer “Discover” with offers from Buzzfeed, Vice, TED & Co. as well as the “Stories” of the users. The technology editor invites you to develop a “story” from Snaps - with an introduction, a climax and a conclusion, as Discover partners do. At this point it is clear: Snapchat is the “mobile coffee chat” in the globally networked world - personal chat with selected friends in a protected room and without likes.

Social media advisor Philip Steuer (his Snapchat book is available for free at snapmeifyoucan.net) confirms the value of everyday stories. For many years, RTL has had an extremely fitting slogan, which is still the title of the annual review today: “People, Images, Emotions” gets to the point. People are interested in people and their experiences. We pass on experiences in pictures and stories. Which brings us to snaps, stories that are unadorned - as opposed to glossy photos on Instagram, as Mashable vividly explains on YouTube.

Status Quo: Like “Assi-TV” for Super-RTL

If you look at Snaps, today you will mainly discover weird grimaces, location pics, colorful doodles and snapshots "embellished" with emojis. If I leave out the real-time function with half-life, the snapped experiences and the built-in privacy “Out of sight - out of mind”, I come to the result: Today Snapchat is “coffee gossip in kindergarten”, offspring out of control and “Assi-TV” for Super RTL.

This impression is reinforced by the numerous filters and the built-in gamification. Before my friends on Snapchat piss me off, I'll add my rating: Like every successful social network, the private messaging service comes “bottom-up” - in other words, from teens as first movers, and is growing up step by step. TechCrunch rightly sees the potential of 1 billion users. Snapchat is an evolution in social networks, just like Facebook was before.

“Fear of missing out” - but on speed.

The unconventionally operating service has the chance to grow, because young users are pioneers. The parents have now moved in on Facebook. No wonder kids are fleeing in droves. The real highlight is the privacy on Snapchat. At the same time, the network drives users crazy, constantly having to look at what's new. 54% of all US users do that too, states the US content marketing service NewsGred.

Instagram is still the popular platform for posting photos and videos that should be seen by many. This also reveals a weakness of Snapchat: the network locks users in through its curation, as does advertising partners. To follow friends or companies, I need username or snapcode. There are no links to published photos, videos and messages aka “items”. This could become a problem for link-driven reach junkies.

Reached the next level of development.

Snapchat may be the next network that gives millions of people the chance to gossip and smile in confidence. With mobile only, fulltime video by default, daily video summary and self-destructive posts, the product designers enable the next level of self-presentation - faster, more emotional and more confidential than Facebook, as the social media exeminer confirms. No wonder Zuckerberg was worth $ 3 billion when it acquired Snapchat in 2013. Instagram cost “only” around $ 1 billion.

Experiments in Germany include the Bild-Zeitung (Snapchat: hellobild) and the Spiegel offshoot Bento (bento_de) with Snapchat, Sixt (SixtDE) offers its own “live stories” through its account with virtual test drives and binds football clubs from FC Bayern to Schalke 04 to their fans yourself. This indicates who the network can be of interest to. On the one hand, the media are trying to attract young users through the app. Martin Giesler from bento.de expects all media companies to jump on the bandwagon this year.

Mayfly or successful star product?

In addition, a wave of advertising is rolling towards us in order to be as close as possible to the customer. In return, the network in the USA is opening up to the 35+ target group, because they have well-filled wallets. We will probably soon be annoyed with push notifications instead of adding companies ourselves. This means that grimaces and doodles have reached their half-life. Otherwise, Snapchat is just a flash in the pan and can actually go away with it.

My conclusion: Today, Snapchat is especially exciting for kids, extroverts and marketing consultants - those who like to be in the limelight. The network has not yet climbed the Gartner hype cycle. In B2C marketing, video messaging with insides, tutorials, use cases and user-generated content via “3V Advertising” in “Life Stories” and “Discover Channel” is an interesting near-time addition - especially internationally. In B2B, Snapchat doesn't really matter, which brings us back to the beginning of the “story”.

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Photo: 360b / Shutterstock.com