According to recent statistics from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 41% of U.S. teenagers are on Snapchat (April 8, 2015). Alongside Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat rounds out the Top 3 of teen social media sites. This was also consistent with the college students in my doctoral research who reported the same “top 3.” But what about you as an educator? Do you use Snapchat? Do you understand it? I’ve found that higher education professionals are lagging behind in their knowledge of this important social network.
I’ve spoken at length about how college students educators need to stay current on trends in technology, particularly new apps and social media sites used by college students. With new networks coming online everyday, however, it is hard, if not impossible, to stay up-to-date on all of them. Some apps come and go (I’m looking at you Ello and Peach), and very few have staying power. Snapchat is one of those apps that has a accrued a dedicated, and still growing, following and yet college student educators seem to understand it the least.
So what do you need to know about Snapchat? Snapchat, as its name suggests, started as a chatting tool focused on photos. The twist Snapshat brought to the party was that snaps, or photos, were ephemeral. They are automatically set to “disappear forever” after a set number of seconds. Unlike established social networks that privilege permanent always-searchable content, Snapchat took the opposite approach… and teens loved it.
Snapchat has since evolved from just a chat app into something much more. It includes other features such as “Discover,” which provides bite-sized chunks of curated news, and “stories,” akin to the classic Facebook Wall with content that disappears 24 hours after being posted.
The following infographic accompanied Gary Vaynerchuk’s EXCELLENT post on the history of Snapchat. I encourage you to take a look at his entire post as it provides much more detail about Snapchat’s history and basic functionality. (You might also know Gary from his successful book, The Thank You Economy.)
The infographic from Gary’s post is below and clicking it links over to his site. Check it out.