Snapchat is having a moment. Many moments actually. Our spidey-senses, honed by years of watching technology shift, are most definitely tingling. All the people who made Twitter happen are hopping onto Snapchat. And like it or not, they’re bringing brands with them.
Twitter, on the other hand, is having the opposite of a moment. Call it a nightmare from which they may never wake up. Their user numbers are static. Their stock price is tanking. And alleged “innovations” like 10,000 character tweets aren’t moving the needle on either one of those problems.
Snapchat is hot with the “guru-ocracy” for a lot of the reasons Twitter first became hot. It’s confusing to new users so actually knowing how to navigate the platform gives the army of social media gurus instant cachet, not to mention something to blog (or more likely Periscope) about. It’s constantly evolving too, so there’s a strong need to stay on top of it, and it’s been getting a lot of mainstream press as everyone from staid brands to even more staid presidential candidates seems to be jumping on the bandwagon.
But Snapchat goes beyond Twitter. It doesn’t take itself too seriously (said no one ever about Twitter.) It lets brands and news outlets tell stories with video and graphics that can extend beyond 30 seconds or 140 characters, and right now it’s got some of the best minds in the business figuring out creative new ways to use it to tell those stories. Snapchat also gets points for actively trying to work with advertisers and others who might help them make money. The early social networks resisted this for a long time.
This is not to say Snapchat doesn’t come with problems, the inscrutable user interface prime among them, along with the fact that Gen Z, those elusive post-Millennial smartphone natives, who are the key reason for everyone jumping on Snapchat, may decide to abandon the platform now that Mom and Dad have found it.
That’s unlikely however. Snapchat is en fuego and the kids will likely stay put (for the short term anyway) as brands and social media gurus converge. It’s not like they’re going to go to Peach. The issue for Snapchat right is going to be how to get more adults who aren’t self-serving media types to join the platform and stay there.
Twitter got lots of initial buzz and plenty of people joining because the conventional wisdom said it was good for business, that it was an excellent place to meet other like-minded professionals, bond with them, share links, maybe even meet up in person. And while the celebrity influx changed Twitter somewhat, the notion that it’s a valid networking tool and a way to establish thought leadership is still (more or less) valid.
Snapchat, right now, has no such claim.
It’s purely social, and while some businesses (BRaVE among them) are using Snapchat to spur business-centric conversations, that’s not yet seen as Snapchat’s main purpose and it may take some time to change that perception.
Snapchat also has no feedback loop, save a response to a story, and that creates a very different experience than Twitter, where pursuit of followers, retweets and favorites has become something of an art form.
That may not be a bad thing though—people may just be tired of constantly performing on social media, like dogs hoping to get just one more biscuit. Snapchat’s laid back, nothing-is-that-serious platform may be exactly what’s needed in 2016, an antidote to the constant flow of posts all calling out to be liked and shared and commented upon.
It remains to be seen whether Twitter is having a MySpace circa 2008 moment, whether it really is all downhill from here, or if this is just a momentary lapse.
What is clear however, is that Snapchat is having a Twitter circa 2009 moment. There’s something about Snapchat that makes it more intriguing that Instagram, more of the moment than wannabes like Peach and Ello.
2016 is going to be the year that Snapchat surpasses Twitter as “the other social network.”
You heard it here first.