The Evolution of Snapchat.

Snapchat Logo

Snapchat, a social media platform founded in April 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown and initially released in July 2012 as a way to communicate between friends within the form of a 10 second photo that would then disappear. Initially only being released to Apple’s App Store, Snapchat started off a such a simple concept of sharing snapshots between friends and hit over 1000 users within its first 5 months. It has now grown into a mass platform to not just socialise but used for promotion, marketing and is a highly successful news outlet among most Millennial’s (people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) and Gen ‘Z’ (short for Generation Z, people turning 18 after the year 2013). 

“As you describe, social media entertainment changes the power structure of media organisations and the ways in which civic conversations are forming in public life. Arendt’s notion of action is decidedly non-instrumental. It suggests new beginnings, where the actor sets something in motion without mind to objectives or conclusions. This only works if the civic infrastructure is in place to support such a thing.”- Henry Jenkins 2019

The foundation of Snapchat is based upon the idea of these 10 second photos, which you can draw and write on and creates the feeling of it all being more personal to the user. By May 2012 the operating systems were processing 25 images being sent per second which was struggling to deal with the mass of usage and then but by October of 2012 and a few upgrades to the operating systems later, they were processing 20 million images a day, that’s around 231 images a second. With its indisputable success within Apple’s App Store they released it into the android store. Though on a platform for both iPhone and Android users, in 2014 Snapchat removed any third party apps to access your Snapchat account from all app stores, so if you were a windows user you now couldn’t have the Snapchat application on your device.Although they started off as a photo sharing platform, in December 2012 they tested the idea of 10 second videos, no longer, which again disappeared after they ended. Although they started off as a photo sharing platform, in December 2012 they tested the idea of 10 second videos, no longer, which again disappeared after they ended.

Geofilters from around the world

August 2014 saw the arrival of Geo-filters to the platform which allowed the app to grant access your location settings and allowed you to add customer filters over your photos or videos to show people be it on your friends list or on your story where you were when taking that snap.There are 2 types of Geo-filters, Community Geo-filters which are available to everyone on that location, or on-demand Geo-filters, which you can create yourself for any occasion you could attend. Also, independent brands can use the on-demand Geo-filters for promotional purposes be it for a new product or just self-promotion.

Season 7 Game of Thrones Filter

Much like the Geo-filters, in 2015 Snapchat released filters which create an interactive experience for the user initially after the release the most popular filter distorting the users face and when opening your mouth rainbows appear. This added another level to the user’s experience and since evolving into more than just rainbow mouth. Initially Snapchat released a set amount of filters, and you could pay $0.99 to unlock new filters, they removed the cost of the filters and made all filters free to all users, and even made new filters weekly to keep the users interested. Companies make filters to promote themselves like the Geo-filters, also Film and TV releases create these filters to help promote their new show. For the release of both Season 7 and 8 of the HBO show Game Of Thrones and allows the user to discover and immerse themselves into another element of their favourite show. The creation of these filters works on both front and rear facing cameras, creating an augmented reality through the users phone. Be it within game of thrones being able to see dragons flying around you or be it turning you into an older version of yourself. The ability for you to do this all from one app on your phone was a massive step towards at home virtual reality.

Nationwide results day filer
Coca-Cola Christmas Filter

Other companies to utilise these features would be the worldwide food giant McDonald’s, who have Geo-filters in all their stores so people can show they are at their store, also around Christmas McDonald’s have QR codes which you can scan through the app which releases a 24 hour filter for you to use. Coca-Cola are another giant to use these features for promotional purposes, around Christmas they have a feature which brings the iconic Holidays Are Coming truck to life within your snap. Coca-Cola uses this to promote new flavours, and have filters that change seasonally. In the UK, building society Nationwide created a filter specifically for students receiving their A-Level results, to share their success and a more fun way to tell their friends about their decided option after A-Levels. They create a filter that can be used on both front and rear camera, giving you a crown and balloons on the front camera and confetti to the rear.

‘186 million people use Snapchat every day, creating 3 billion snaps per day.  If you are trying to advertise to this younger demographic, start with Snapchat.’- Mary Lister, 2019Possibly one of  Snapchat’s biggest platform leaps, in 2015 was the creation of their Discover section, where New Platforms such as; People, Daily Mail, The Sun, BuzzFeed and many more created stories (just like it’s users) and updated them daily with current trends and news. The Discover section started off as a separate screen by swiping all the way to right and seeing each company’s logo that you could click on and their story would appear. You could also choose to subscribe to specific stories

Discover on Snapchat

and get notified when they were updated. In an update soon after the release of the Discovery section they changed it from the company logo in a circle to a brief insight into what their day’s story entailed and whatever news outlet you have subscribed to would appear as the biggest on the user’s discovery section, which is the current style they have stuck with.

Chat 2.0 announcement

In March of 2016 Snapchat launched ‘Chat 2.0’ where you could now watch and listen with your contacts, in the style of a voicemail. They also later introduced the ability to video chat if both users where actively in the chat, if a user was in another part of the app, they could still use the voice call feature just with no video present.‘According to Snapchat, the original idea behind Chat was for it to be “the best way to communicate — second only to hanging out face-to-face.” The 2.0 update goes a long way towards achieving that goal, giving users a whole slew of ways to interact with each other.’- Lucia Peters, 2016. Chat 2.0 also introduced the use of stickers not just in a chat but you could also add them on top of your photos too, adding another element of personalisation to the platform. Snap streaks released within the Chat 2.0 update, where users could see how many consecutive days they had been snapping each other. Team Snapchat send out a video to all it’s users for most occasions and holidays, and also to inform them of any updates that has happened and how the update has changed the app.

Bitmoji Stories.
Bitmoji with friends.

2017 saw the implication of a users Bitmoji, an avatar the user can personalise to replicate themselves that their contacts can see. Bitmoji originates from the company Bitstrip which became a subsidiary of Snap Inc. in 2016. Bitmoji’s where originally a way for other people to identify who you were, but now Bitmoji’s have are part of every element of the Snapchat app, they’re in our chats and snaps as stickers, they’re virtual filters that we can use within augmented reality, bringing our cartoon version of ourselves into the real world. They are even within our stories now with Bitmoji Stories, which incorporates you and a friends Bitmoji to create a short comic-strip like story which changes daily. ‘Bitmoji Stories will tell lighthearted stories in the form of short comic strips. Bitmoji Stories are created by Snap (from the Bitmojicontent team), and will star the Snapchatter solo or with a friend.” They’ll be constantly updated with new adventures, and they’re quite reminiscent of lifelike avatar startup Genies’ scenes.’- Josh Costine, 2018. Bitmoji is also a form of escapism for the user as they can customise it t any extent they like be it just changing their hair colour of expressing themselves in other ways.

SnapMaps was introduced towards the end of 2017, and uses your location settings to show your contacts where you are. This caused much controversy as it could be seen as a safety risk. There is the option to turn this feature off, or to choose who can see your location, but when initially added not many people knew how to access the maps and it was automatically turned on. ‘it is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time.’- Olivia Solon, 2017 Though location settings prove useful when creating Geo-filters the introduction of SnapMaps raised many questions with parents whose children use the app. Evan after the discussion of safety within the app, SnapMaps was here to stay and is still a prominent feature.

Snapchat has evolved drastically since its launch in 2011, and is one of the fast growing Social Media outlets to date. What started out as a simple way to communicate between friends, has changed into a multi-media new platform with the capability to engage in a world of augmented reality for the viewer and obtain he latest news all from their pocket. Snapchat has revolutionised the way we use Social Media and has really paved the way for how other platforms have evolved since its release. It’s ability to engage with its users through all aspects of the application by it’s news engagement, augmenter reality, Bitmoji and chats all aspects are covered.


References

Tubular Insights. 2015. Greg Jarboe. [ONLINE] Available at: https://tubularinsights.com/snapchat-video-marketing/.

Word Stream. 2019. The Ridiculously Useful Guide to Snapchat Ads. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/01/09/snapchat-ads.

Tech Crunch. 2018. Snapchat launches Bitmoji merch and comic strips starring your avatar. [ONLINE] Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/13/bitmoji-store/.

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